Fact – Communication is more of a package than individual skill. Your ability with numbers in accountancy should be as good as your communication skills if you want to stay ahead of the game. You must be able to communicate clearly and effectively about complex financial matters with people who may not be familiar with finance.
But. what exactly do ‘communication skills’ encompass, and how do you demonstrate them?
It’s more than just talking
Different employers demand different aspects of communication skills. For example:
KPMG stresses that candidates need to be able to ‘make an impact’, which means being able to communicate a point with purpose and clarity to colleagues and clients alike, thereby winning their respect.
EY or Ernst & Young, on the other hand, focuses on communication-related strengths such as understanding what others are feeling (empathetic connection), making the complex seem simpler (explainer) and being able to engage in conversation with others and build relationships (rapport-builder).
PWC also focuses on the relationship-building aspect of communication, looking out for candidates to communicate ‘with empathy’ because you’ll need to be able to network with colleagues, clients and other contacts in order to conduct our jobs effectively.
So, how can you develop your communication skills?
Woulda, coulda, shoulda: the buck stops here. The next time you are advised to work on your communication skills whilst at college, just do it. You will come to realise how much of a role writing – reports, emails, internal and external communications – would play in your future.
So, if your actual degree work doesn’t require you to do a lot of writing, find some extra-curricular activities that do, to get some practice. It has also surprised many of the students we speak to how much knowing the right people, and having good relationships with them, in addition to getting on with their work colleagues, is important in accountancy.
They wished they had undertaken more social activities with new people at college so they could have broadened their understanding of working with different types of personalities.
Your ability to communicate well will be one of the most noticeable things about you in everything you pursue, which is why getting it right is so important.
You need to ensure your application and/or articles to be well written, easy to understand and tailored appropriately. Make sure you proofread it. Ideally, get someone else to read through it for a sense check.
Remember that a lot of communication is non-verbal – don’t forget to shake hands, smile and make eye contact with everyone you meet. This is one of the reasons why most application processes involve face-to-face interviews at some point or other.
Bottom line, Practice Makes Perfect!
Practice your communication skills. Can you show in your own words – in conversation or on paper – that you really know what accountancy is? Whilst we don’t expect in-depth knowledge, but a good grasp of the basics will help you and impress anyone who is in communication with you.
Recruiters don’t expect in-depth knowledge, but a good grasp of the basics will help you and impress them. Avoid quoting from the organisation’s website at all costs! Always remember to connect your skills and experiences to what you understand about the area you want to enter.