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

#accounting #financial-accounting #accountant #career

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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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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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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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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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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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John’s Answer

I think the answer is BOTH! Certainly you need the technical skills in order to bring insights to clients....but value comes from soft skills as well. There is a lot of coaching and mentoring, and communicating with impact is key. Issues management is super important too.
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Omoyemi Florence’s Answer

Soft Skills: organization, working well with a team, empathy, & communication (written & verbal)
Hard Skills: technical accounting skills & technology (excel, alteryx, tableau)
- PwC Indy
Thank you comment icon Totally agreed, Yemi!! Lauren Taylor, CPA
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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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Laurie’s Answer

That's a great question because most of my friends think you need to be good at math. You need some basic knowledge in math, but the software does all that work for us :)
Both hard and soft skills are very important. The particular skills you need depend on whether you are in private industry, government or public accounting. In my experience, I sometimes feel that I need to be an investigator.
Some of the most important soft skills are 1. communication (both oral and written), 2. analytical and conceptual skills, 3. organizational skills, 4. teamwork, 5. ability to keep track of and meet deadlines, 6. multitasking
Hard skills 1. accounting and tax technical knowledge, 2. Microsoft Excel and various computer programs depending on your job , 3. ability to learn new programs easily.
Hard skills are easier to acquire through training, whereas it's hard to teach soft skills. So the soft skills that you bring with you are more important to me than the hard skills that you already have.
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Madisyn’s Answer

This is a great question! As an accountant, there are many hard and soft skills that can help you exceed.

Some examples of hard skills that an accountant would need: knowledge of GAAP and IFRS, technical accounting knowledge, bookkeeping skills, tax return knowledge and etc. As there are different types of accountants, different hard skills may be more useful in certain areas. For example, having knowledge of tax returns would be really helpful for someone who is a tax accountant.

Some examples of soft skills that an accountant would need: communication skills, being team oriented, being organized and keeping up with deadlines. These soft skills are useful at any job you may have, not just accounting.

Lastly, I personally think both sets of skills are important to have. Hard skills help you do your work effectively while soft skills help you when you have to work with teams and clients.
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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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Tammy’s Answer

Hi Noah, both hard and soft skills are extremely valuable in accounting. I would say soft skills are more important out of the two since it cannot be learned straight away. Mastering soft skills takes years of practice and most people are not perfect at this. For hard skills, knowing how to utilize Microsoft tools such as Excel and Word are essential. Without technology, it would be difficult to complete most of the work that accountants go through on a daily basis. Basic knowledge of financial reporting is also required such as financial statements and debits and credits. Depending on the type of accounting, it is also worth knowing the types of laws that you will be dealing with for your company's or client's purposes. As for soft skills, communication is key. Without communication, you would not have proper teamwork and members would not function in an organized and efficient manner. The best result is a productive team that knows which action to take and can easily resolve issues together.
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Nicole’s Answer

Hard skills needed are Microsoft Office and having a lot of experience with excel is very helpful. Also need to understand GAAP principles and accounting principals. For soft skills working with a team being able to work with any type of person is essential, presentation skills and communication skills are important also.
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Jordan’s Answer

What a great question! Some more technical skills that are important for accounting include experience with Microsoft Office, especially excel. Attention to detail and familiarity with accounting concepts are also key. Soft skills include presentation skills, good communication, and ability to work in a team. While they are both equally as important, traditional accounting programs tend to focus more heavily on technical skills, so working on soft skills might be something you need to work on outside of class!
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