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The importance of developing soft skills

While certain professions are associated with communication skills and the ability to influence stakeholders, professionals across all sectors should not underestimate the importance of soft skills.

Increasingly, employers are looking to secure professionals who can demonstrate not only exceptional technical abilities but who also have the capacity to collaborate with other areas of the business.

Professionals who are able to do so are increasingly in demand from employers across a wide range of industries.

Key skills in demand

“In professions such as accountancy and finance, employers have traditionally focused on sourcing professionals who can demonstrate a high level of technical proficiency,” explained Martin Fox, Managing Director of Robert Walters Canada.

“However, as the role of finance departments expands, the skills required for professionals to excel in the role are also broadening. Employers are looking for accountants who can play a key strategic role, providing financial insights to senior managers to help determine company policy.”

As a result, finance professionals who can communicate effectively and translate complex financial information into commercially relevant insights are in high demand.

Similarly, in fields such as procurement, which have traditionally worked directly with finance departments to drive cost savings, employers are now looking for professionals with strong soft skills.

Building relationships

Managing relationships with suppliers and engaging stakeholders from across the business are increasingly becoming vital functions of procurement departments.

“While strong technical skills are still vital in finance and other fields, the need to form a diverse range of skills has never been more pertinent than it is now,” Fox continued.

Employers are looking for accountants who can play a key strategic role, providing financial insights to senior managers to help determine company policy.

“In addition to giving candidates the best chance of achieving career progression, these skills are also essential for effective networking, and therefore finding the best opportunities.”

In a recent survey from Robert Walters, just 39% of senior finance managers felt that their team were able to work effectively as strategic business partners to the rest of the organization. Commercial aptitude, persuasion and influencing skills and stakeholder management skills were all difficult to find in candidates according to finance managers.

“Professionals looking to make their next career move should consider how they can demonstrate these highly sought after skills when applying for a new role,” Fox went on.

“While examples from your professional life of how you can manage stakeholders are effective, do not rule out using examples from other projects or activities you have experience in.”

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