Transferable Skills

Transferable Skills

If you’re looking at making a move you need to think of the transferable skills you’ve developed and how to prove they’re relevant to your new endeavor.

Managing careers aren’t easy. Sometimes you find yourself wanting to take a new direction but fear completely starting over. If you stop back and take stock of not what you do day to day but the talents that make you able to do them, then you can better make the argument tying what’s behind you to what you want in front of you. I sat down below to hash out the skills that defined my old career path, which was in accounting/financial analyst type roles, and see how they could be leveraged going forward.

I believe there’s a lot of misunderstanding about what a staff accountant’s soft skills are and how they transfer to outside roles. Staff accountants tend to be hard working people dedicated to their job, and in reality, probably break a lot of the molds people try to place them into when evaluating what they bring to the table in a job outside the field. Here are six transferable skills you develop as a staff accountant that any hiring manager may find beneficial:

1. Top notch investigator. One of the skills a staff accountant develops is the ability to dig into the details and find a way to tie everything together so it makes sense. You have to be able to identify patterns, develop a method to reach your desired end state, and see it through until the end in these types of roles. Staff accountants can work well anytime there are convoluted circumstances that need to be sorted out. It doesn’t necessarily have to be financial information either. A staff accountant’s skill lies in being able to develop a process to get the job done regardless of the task at hand. This skill transfers to any role that requires deep analytical functions, particularly those in the information system/data management field that requires someone with patience and diligence to wade through an issue.

2. Effective problem solver. A good staff accountant can fix problems once they’re identified. They are keen at finding solutions that make sure certain issues don’t arise in the future. Problems surface all the time for the staff accountant. Instances like vendors not getting paid or customers not receiving invoices jam up the business process and choke cash. On the back end, the staff accountant might have to fix processes to satisfy auditing or reporting requirements, safeguard assets, and ensure reporting is accurate. These skills easily transfer to the front of the house to assist customers who need special attention or IT issues that need to be rectified to support business requirements.

3. Knows how to provide value. A good staff accountant tries to organize their work so they have time to provide value to the organization. Being able to analyze financial statements and deliver insights to management are key for this role. Pointing out labor inefficiencies via absorption analysis, unfavorable mix and volume changes to the top line, pricing shortfalls, or liquidity restraints help management provide front line solutions to right the business. The goal of any role in any organization should be to provide value in some kind of way, so having someone used to proving their work’s value can benefit an organization greatly in any type of role at any type of level.

4. Handles stress well. Any staff accountant on a three day close window with a mountain of work to be completed knows how to handle stress. Combine a lot of work with tight deadlines and you have the recipe for wringing hands, sleepless nights, and unregulated outbursts, so if you need someone who can stay calm and collected, look no further. Staff accountants know how to make sure they get their jobs done through careful organization, prioritization, and preparation. Having someone who can still perform well under deadline is important for any type of work involving contracts or business proposals. In fact, dedicating a staff accountant to a sales support role often has a measurable impact in terms of conversion because they can deliver quickly when customers want proposals tweaked to fit their situation.

5. Highly conscientious. Probably the staff accountant’s most favorable trait is that they tend to be conscientious about their work. The advice of “be passionate about what you do” becomes “be passionate about how you do it” for a staffer. Doing what is right, discharging one’s duty thoroughly, and fixing issues as they arise instead of ignoring them is a compelling trait for any employee in any organization.

6. Works well with people. I’ve never understood the “Bob from Accounting” trope you see on television that depicts accounting folks as oddball outsiders. In reality, most of the kindest and most interesting people I’ve met come from the accounting department. I also don’t understand the belief that staff accountants don’t deal with people in their day to day functioning. In my career, working in operational accounting roles especially, I’d have a line five deep asking for help. Everyone from buyers with purchase order problems, sales people trying to get customers off credit hold, managers asking for clarification on reports, front line employees with payroll issues, warehouse personnel with receiving issues, and whatever urgent oddball request came from the home office would be trying to get my attention at any moment. At all times I was trying diligently to be courteous and helpful, as I’ve witnessed just about every other staff accountant act as well.

So, next time someone with an accounting background comes to for a position that isn’t accounting, don’t think about writing them off. They may have a lot of the “it factor” that you’re looking for in filling your open role.

Ceiling Window at Reptile House, Cincinnati OH
Ceiling Window at Reptile House, Cincinnati OH