CFOs most crave these 2 nonaccounting skills

BY KEN TYSIAC
May 6, 2013

General business knowledge and IT expertise are the nonaccounting skills CFOs in the United States are seeking most from finance and accounting job candidates, according to a new survey.

One-third of 2,100 CFOs surveyed by specialized staffing service Accountemps said general business knowledge is the attribute or area of expertise they value most—in addition to traditional accounting knowledge—when hiring finance and accounting professionals.

One-quarter of the CFOs identified IT expertise as the most-sought nonaccounting skill. Communication skills (14%), leadership abilities (13%), and customer service orientation (13%) also were valued most by some CFOs but were not as highly sought as general business knowledge or IT expertise.

“Accounting and finance professionals are playing a broader role at work—they help develop strategy, inform key decisions, and serve as business partners for multiple departments,” Accountemps Chairman Max Messmer said in a news release. “Employers seek individuals who have the business acumen necessary to see the big picture and understand how a strong accounting function influences the success of the entire organization.”

Research conducted for a recent CGMA report, New Skills, Existing Talent, indicated that three-fourths of global finance executives reported that an organization meets its objectives better when finance professionals work in a management support role.

Finance professionals recognize that they need to shift the emphasis in their roles toward supporting the wider business, according to the CGMA report.

“While accountants may believe they are providing insight with their financial reporting, I believe internal customers are looking for more from the finance staff in order for them to be viewed as true business partners,” Bob Laux, Microsoft’s senior director for financial accounting and reporting, said in the CGMA report.

Job seekers can use the following five strategies to demonstrate their full range of knowledge in job interviews, according to Accountemps:

  1. Be prepared. Research the organization and position to discover how your skills can help the company achieve its goals. Practice your responses to common questions so you will feel more confident in the interview.
  2. Review your résumé. Find two or three achievements that relate to the job and be sure to highlight them during the interview.
  3. Demonstrate intellectual curiosity. Show your commitment to keeping your skills sharp by highlighting any recent professional development courses you have taken.
  4. Listen carefully. While the interviewer is talking, try to avoid thinking about the next point you want to make.
  5. Follow up. Send a note thanking the interviewer, and use it as another opportunity to highlight the reasons you believe you are the right person for the job.

Ken Tysiac ( ktysiac@aicpa.org ) is a JofA senior editor.

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