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What hard and soft skills are needed in accounting and which of the two is more favorable?

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Doloris’s Answer

Hard and soft skills are absolutely essential for a career in accounting. It would be difficult to pinpoint which is more favorable in terms of being hired, as that depends on the position and company. In terms of hard skills you will need applied knowledge of accounting including GAAP, experience working with accounting software, proficient use of Microsoft Office, ability to write business documents and depending on the position, certain levels of education and/or certifications. Soft skills required include ability to present work in front of a group, teamwork, ability to work in cross-functional teams, ability to manage multiple deadlines/multitask, detail-orientation and the ability to meet deadlines.

Hope this helps and good luck!
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Leo’s Answer

This is a great question - one that I had wondered as I went through the recruiting and interview process with various accounting firms. As noted by the other responses above, hard skills are always going to be important in almost any accounting role. You must have a great understanding of how transactions flow through a company's books and eventually to the financial statements. However, especially with accounting roles that require you to work with your team and clients on a regular basis, having soft skills can be equally important. In my experience in my current role as an auditor at a Big 4 firm, the skills I find to be the most important are:
Hard skills:
- Technical accounting knowledge (GAAP, PCAOB, financial reporting)
- Excel and Microsoft suite proficiency
- Professional writing (emails, memos, accounting documentation, etc.)
Soft skills:
- Time management
- Oral communication (with team and clients)
- Problem solving / Critical thinking
- Adaptability to change (team, client, deadlines, etc.)

While the hard skills are what people most often get from their accounting major and training on-the-job, I believe that developing some of these soft skills now will allow you to separate yourself from other entry-level candidates when it comes time to have your first performance review/promotion opportunity. Best of luck!
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Kristina’s Answer

There are many hard and soft skills that are important in the accounting career. I have listed some examples below. Both hard and soft skills are important, and it is difficult to label one better than the other. Hard skills may be needed in order to get the job in the first place as they can be easier to identify or measure, but I believe soft skills are equally as important when it comes to finding success in the field.

Hard Skills:
- Accounting knowledge (tax code, GAAP, etc).
- Technology skills (knowledge of programs like Microsoft Excel & ability to learn new programs)
- Writing skills

Soft Skills:
- Analytical/critical thinking
- Time management/organization
- Interpersonal skills (such as communication and collaboration)
- Adapting to changes/willingness to learn

I feel that hard skills are sometimes a bit easier to learn, while soft skills can take time and practice to build. There is typically extensive on-the-job training for hard skills as well. Therefore, if there are some soft skills that you struggle with, I recommend trying to focus and build those as much as possible.
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Ziru’s Answer

There are a lot of hard and soft skills required by accounting professionals, and each job would require different hard and soft skills. Here are some hard and soft skills public accounting usually cherishes.

Hard skills:
- Solid accounting knowledge/skills
- Proficient in Excel and other Microsoft softwares
- Math skills
- Professional writing

Soft Skills:
- Communication skills
- Time management
- Team working
- Ability to handle stress
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Lindsey’s Answer

Hard skills include:
-Attention to detail
-Computer skills
-Analytical skills
-Technical skills

Soft skills include:
-Presentation skills
-Communication
-Team work
-Time management

I usually put more emphasis on soft skills as I believe hard skills are easier to teach and learn.
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David’s Answer

In most jobs, hard skills get you in the door, and soft skills will help you advance--those who can't do, manage!

Hard skills:
Attention to detail
Basic math abilities
Computer skills--working with data, various software

Soft skills:
Getting along with others, sensitivity to others
Presentation
Speaking convincingly
Prioritizing work
Written communication
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Ramzi’s Answer

Hard skills include:
- Expertise in the accounting standards (e.g IFRS) and other applicable standards
- Good analytical skills
- Good understanding of the accounting conceptual framework
- Some basic arithmetic skills
- Computer skills (accounting software knowledge is a plus)

Soft skills include:
- Good presentation skills
- Teamwork and delegation
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