Of course, a tax accountant needs to have a deep, up-to-date understanding of the tax code. But you need more than this basic knowledge to become a great tax accountant. Tax chops are key, but not enough.
Building a long-term career involves combining a number of disparate skill sets. These additional attributes require cultivation. You need to commit to continuing education and to chasing new challenges. An over-reliance on tax expertise will leave you in the middle of the pack. To distinguish yourself, you need to develop in additional areas.
But what areas should you focus on? What additional skills will help the most in your tax accounting career?
Here are four key areas (besides basic tax knowledge) that will help you advance in the field.
An Open Mind
A popular stereotype of accountants centers on an assumed rigidity of thought. Accountants are stuck in their world of numbers, the theory goes. Everything is black and white. Rules are rules.
But in truth, making financial decisions (or helping others make tax-efficient financial decisions) requires a broader perspective.
As a tax accountant, your work relates closely to your clients’ goals and aspirations. You need to keep them in mind. A good accountant facilitates what their clients want to accomplish. Listening to people and being open to possibilities makes you better at the job.
Another stereotype of an accountant: A number-obsessed nerd, locked alone in a back room somewhere quietly cranking an adding machine. In reality, though, people skills represent a key attribute for a successful accountant.
You are dealing with an esoteric topic that can have a dramatic impact on people’s lives. Your clients deserve to know what’s going on. The ability to explain complicated topics and instill confidence plays a big part in a successful career.
Along with the ability to talk with clients, accountants benefit from a strong working relationship with their colleagues. In a corporate setting, you might work within a large department, which means different communication challenges than dealing with laymen. Meanwhile, your career will receive a further boost from an ability to navigate office politics.
Even outside a corporate atmosphere, accountants benefit from a team-first attitude. Tax professionals work within a web of other financial advisors, each with a different prospective on priorities. Dealing with investment advisors and other financial planners is key for long-term success.
Progressing in your career involves taking on more and more responsibility as you go. To increase your standing and earnings potential, you need to attain leadership positions.
Excelling at management requires a tangle of skills, many far removed from mastery of the tax code. Along with communication, you need to handle a myriad of administrative duties. You also need to be able to identify and motivate talent.
Building an array of skills to complement your core competency gives you additional options in navigating your career. Another big help in opening your horizons: Partnering with a strong recruiting firm.
A top-flight staffing company, like PrideStaff, puts you in the perfect situation to expand your skills and energize your advancement. Contact our leading recruiters today to find out more.