So you've got a graduate or even postgraduate tax qualification and you're looking to land a prestige tax or accounting position? If you want to separate yourself out from the pack, demonstrating these four attributes will keep you top of mind with hiring managers.
An inquiring mind
American writer John Maxwell famously observed that a person who knows how will always have a job, but that the person who knows why will always be the boss. Your recent tax qualification will hopefully have encouraged you to constantly ask that crucial ‘why?’ question. James Collacott, dux of the Tax Institute's CTA2 Advanced course, notes: "After having completed CTA1, I knew that I needed to move my knowledge to the next level if I was going to be able to progress my career in taxation. The Australian tax system is complicated and the CTA2 Advanced course allowed me to apply my new knowledge immediately and apply the principles I’d learnt to the tax affairs of the firm’s clients.”
Most jobs are never advertised, meaning if you aren’t in the know, you’re not in the running. What’s more, hiring managers are more comfortable taking a punt on a candidate who comes recommended by someone they trust. Granted, having a large network isn’t in itself proof of competence but at the least it demonstrates a candidate is likely to have the ability to work well with others. It’s never too early (or too late) to start growing your network and a tax course is a great place to form relationships with those working in the industry.
The ability to communicate
If tax matters were simple you wouldn’t have had to spend years studying at undergraduate and postgraduate level to master them. Nonetheless, you’ll be in hot demand if you possess the communication skills to explain what you’re planning on doing, or have done, to clients with little interest in the intricacies of the Australian tax system. Nicole Chromy says of her CTA2 Advanced course, “[It] has built my confidence to break down and tackle complex scenarios. Furthermore, it has assisted me in working out how to take these conclusions and explain the outcome in an understandable manner to my clients.”
The capacity to not be a team player
It may sound counterintuitive, but the ability to cope with and, when appropriate provoke, discord is something every graduate should have, at least according to Sir Martin Sorrell, founder and CEO public relations firm WPP. He argues: “If a leader is surrounded by ‘yes’ people they learn nothing. Good people know how to stand their ground and make their case – even when others don’t want to hear what they’re saying.”
As necessary as they are, qualifications aren’t likely to be sufficient to land you that dream job. To have your pick of potential employers, you’ll need to demonstrate you’ve got the kind of attributes (such as those listed above) that others don’t.
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