Wednesday 6 December 2017

How to shine at a networking event

Whether you’re a seasoned tax professional or junior practitioner, few activities have as much potential for business development and career advancement as networking with peers, influencers and prospective clients.

A networking function can help you forge real-world connections with people you might otherwise only know via email or social media. It enables you to represent your organisation to potentially valuable, influential contacts. However, making and nurturing contacts at such occasions can be challenging if you don’t take the time to prepare.

Here are some ideas on how to best represent your firm at a networking event.

Thursday 30 November 2017

Résumé red flags to avoid

A recruiter or hiring manager may look at your résumé for only a few seconds before they make a decision about your application.

Human resources staff are trained to look quickly for disqualifying factors. With just seconds to impress, you need to ensure your résumé doesn’t contain mistakes that may harm your chances of selection.

Here are four glaring red flags that tend to vex recruiters and may prompt them to weed out candidates at a glance.

Friday 17 November 2017

5 essential business skills

Recruiters in the tax profession look for a range of skills in candidates that apply for entry-level positions.

Academic achievement in your taxation course at university is just a starting point. Companies are on the hunt for well-rounded, business-savvy practitioners who can see beyond just the technical information.

Here are five key qualities that tax employers value in their people.

Thursday 2 November 2017

Surviving first-day-itis at work

When you land your first job or work-experience position at a tax, accounting or legal firm, you’re likely to be nervous about settling in.

Don’t worry – the feeling is totally normal.

Here’s a brief survival guide on how to make a great impression in your first week.

Tuesday 24 October 2017

The value of career mentors

Many successful people have sought out mentors to show them how to reach the top.

A mentor can be viewed as a kind of workplace parent-figure – someone who can warn you against making short-sighted moves that could damage your career. They will, instead, encourage you to do those things that may be uncomfortable at first but will reap great rewards in the long term.

Experience is a valuable thing. And while there’s no substitute for learning the hard way, there’s also no rule against leveraging the wisdom of others.

A true mentor will provide honest feedback on how you’re performing and offer suggestions on how to improve your performance. They may also introduce you to people in their own network who can help you further your career.

Friday 20 October 2017

Score maximum marks for class participation

University isn't just about acing your exams and carving out a career path. Don’t forget the ‘here and now’, which includes participation in weekly classes – an important element in most university curriculums.

Believe it or not, there once was a time when students at tertiary institutions would meet regularly with their lecturers on a one-to-one basis or, at most, alongside just one or two classmates. After tutorial groups expanded to accommodate anywhere up to 20 people, universities looked for ways to encourage everyone in these groups to prepare for and participate in discussions. They did this by setting aside a certain allocation of marks for ‘classroom participation’.

Here are five tips that will help you earn maximum marks for this part of your course assessment.

Tuesday 10 October 2017

2016 duces share their experience of learning with The Tax Institute

Here at The Tax Institute, we’ve always been confident about the quality and value of our education programs.

For additional feedback, we spoke with two of our highest-performing students from study period 3, 2016 - Kelly Venhuizen and Terry Gan.

Wednesday 27 September 2017

Four qualities of effective leaders

Do you see yourself as a future leader in your profession?

Becoming a great leader calls for a complex suite of skills. Although we recognise that talented bosses need to be equipped to rise to challenges and make tough decisions, we sometimes forget that the ability to communicate, delegate, remain positive and be creative are equally intrinsic to leadership success.

Whether you dream of heading up an accounting or law firm or serving as a tax adviser to large corporations, there are ways to hone your leadership credentials now.

Here are four attributes of great leaders, along with fail-safe tips for acquiring them.

Thursday 7 September 2017

When an interviewer asks about your weaknesses ...

For some graduates, it's the toughest question in a job interview:

Tell me, what is your biggest weakness?

How should you answer? And what do potential employers really want to hear?

There was a time when saying you were a perfectionist or a workaholic were the only acceptable answers to the question about professional weaknesses. However, unless you really are a perfectionist or a workaholic (and have supporting evidence), those answers are now considered insincere.

We asked employers in the tax profession to explain what they really want to learn when they ask this question.

Wednesday 30 August 2017

Negotiating your first (or next) promotion

Whether you’re an experienced tax professional ready to take the next step in your career or a junior accountant or lawyer who wants to make your first move up the corporate ladder, knowing how to negotiate a promotion is an essential workplace skill.

Asking your boss for more responsibility – and money – can be daunting, no matter how many times you’ve done it before.

Here are four tips for negotiating with your employer and landing the role you aspire to.

Tuesday 22 August 2017

Lifelong learning – the key to optimal earning

After you have completed a decade and a half of primary, secondary and tertiary education, it can be tempting to call it quits when it comes to further tax training.

However, if you’re smart enough to make it to the end of a university degree, you’re probably also smart enough to realise that taking it easy is, eventually, a recipe for career and income stagnation.

Wednesday 16 August 2017

Career alternatives for tax graduates

An assumption often made about students pursuing a degree in tax is that they’re on the fast track to a certain career in accountancy. However, not every tax graduate follows suit. So what are some of the other career options available?

Tax-based education gives you a unique combination of skills, including the ability to be a team player, the ability to not be a team player, communication skills, research skills, maths skills, analytical skills and commercial awareness. The combination of these means you’re equally well prepared for a numerical, analytical or communication-based role. After completing postgraduate tax training, you are spoilt with a unique spread of career options.

Here are five paths you might consider.

Wednesday 9 August 2017

You have just 7 seconds to make your CV shine

by Simon Cauchois *

Your potential new boss spends an average of seven seconds looking over each CV before deciding who to interview, according to studies. That means you need to make an incredible first impression to stand any chance of making it through to the next stage.

There are several simple but effective ways for your CV to catch the recruiter's eye.

Put your best assets at the top. Start your CV with a summary of your top skills and accomplishments. This will grab the boss's attention and make the right impression. Many CVs start with data such as qualifications and work experience, so give yours the personal touch. Tell them about your strong skills, such as being great with people, your enthusiasm for your work and your unique selling points such as being a first-class website designer or imaginative sales assistant with an eye for window dressing.

Tuesday 25 July 2017

What is active listening and how can you master it?

Active listening is a cornerstone of effective interpersonal communication. It’s therefore an essential skill for tax professionals.

Active listening involves both hearing what your client or colleague is saying and letting them know that you hear what they’re saying.

It helps you to build rapport with your clients and colleagues. It demonstrates your respect for them. It also helps you to earn their trust.

They’ll know that any opinions or recommendations you subsequently suggest will be based on a deep understanding of their specific needs.

Here are a few active listening techniques that you can apply in any professional conversation.

Monday 17 July 2017

The keys to resilience

Some people experience problems or trauma and immediately descend into despair and immobility. Others, on the other hand, may undergo similar trials and are able to dust themselves off and continue, often with greater emotional fortitude than before.

Why are certain people more emotionally resilient than others? How can people build resilience? These are questions that psychologists have explored for decades.

Resilience is the ability to cope with challenges. It doesn’t mean avoiding or preventing stressful situations. Rather, it involves an acceptance that adversity is sometimes inevitable, an ability to handle personal trials with equanimity, and a determination to grow through the experience.

What techniques can you employ to build resilience? The following ideas may help.

Tuesday 11 July 2017

How to write a cover letter for your job application

When you apply for a job in tax, and especially for your first job in tax, you need to ensure your application stands out.

Your resume, of course, should clearly highlight your skills, qualifications and achievements to date. However, a hiring manager may not even see your resume if your cover letter doesn’t first spark his or her interest.

Wednesday 28 June 2017

Instant motivation at work

Some days at work, you just don’t feel like being there. You’re lethargic, bored and unproductive. You’re also distracted easily by the most trivial, mundane occurrences.

Still, the work has to be done and the slower you go, the more it will build up.

What you need is an instant mental pick-me-up – a shot of inspiration – to help you get back on track.

Here are some ideas.

Thursday 22 June 2017

What is a Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA)?

If you’re serious about building a career in tax, one of your long-term objectives should be to attain the Chartered Tax Adviser designation.

This is an internationally recognised, respected mark of technical excellence and professional integrity. It represents the pinnacle of the tax profession. 

The CTA designation can take your career to the heights of the tax profession. Conceived by the UK’s Chartered Institute of Taxation, it’s the ultimate accreditation for tax professionals around the world.

Here are three compelling ways a CTA designation can help you achieve more.

Wednesday 7 June 2017

Exam day tips to achieve the best results

Exam day has arrived.

You may feel ready, or you may not. Whatever the case, there’s no more time left to study. However, there are still a number of things you can do to ensure you achieve the best marks possible.

Wednesday 24 May 2017

Taking control of interview nerves

When you’re in your final year of study, you’re likely to begin lining up job interviews.

At this stage, you may be nervous. But don’t let those annoying butterflies stop you from showing interviewers that you’re the right candidate for the job. Be prepared, stay focused and tackle those interviews with confidence.

Here are some tips that may help.

Tuesday 23 May 2017

How to make better decisions

The ability to make decisions – often, quickly and well – is an attribute that can boost your career in the tax profession.

When the going gets tough, people look to the best decision-makers for solutions to problems. It’s no coincidence that the people who make the best decisions are those most likely to end up in senior leadership positions.

It’s useful to remember, however, that effective decision-makers are made, not born. Decision-making is a skill that can be developed like any other.

Here are a few techniques.

Friday 12 May 2017

A resume to help you secure your first job in tax

A sparkling resume can be a one-way ticket to your dream job. In a competitive profession like tax, hiring managers use resumes to separate promising candidates from the rest.

That’s why you need a resume that shines the best light on your skills, qualifications and achievements.

Here are five useful tips for writing a winning resume.

Thursday 27 April 2017

Making it in professional services - beyond the technical

When you embark on a career in an area of professional services, such as tax, you’ll naturally look for ways to gain value from every opportunity at work.

For example, performing technical tasks presents an opportunity to display your skills and enthusiasm, thereby impressing those who may help you achieve your future career aspirations.

Raising your profile

Enhancing your career prospects involves raising your profile internally and externally, among clients, within your industry, and within your organisation.

To achieve this, you should know how to use both social media and modern mainstream media to your advantage. And you should know how to build relationships as a trusted client advisor.

It’s also advantageous to know the role passion plays in performance, developing a real interest, better understanding and awareness.

Anticipating problems and displaying judgement

Another career-enhancing activity is to show good judgement and initiative with clients.

This involves knowing when to seek guidance and when not to, knowing what has and hasn’t already worked, and identifying the end goal in a matter (as well as your role in achieving it).

Over time, you will become increasingly skilled at anticipating problems before they arise.

Following through and showing resilience

How do you continually plan, think forward and meet deadlines without fail? How transferable are your skills, and are you able to use tax skills in different environments?

In terms of career moves, what’s acceptable and what is unacceptable? How and when should you advance by moving from one firm to another?

These are all decisions that require knowledge, nerve and the ability to take action at the right time.

Applying a professional approach

A professional approach involves knowing the best way to present research and advice within your organisation, and knowing how Partners like to be treated at any time.

You should also understand the relevant conventions in your firm, in terms of operational issues, file management and document development and distribution.

Office relationships and conflicts

It’s useful to observe and analyse your workplace culture to know which behaviours are appropriate and which are not.

To do this, you might ask what has and hasn’t changed in the last 30 years? Are there significant value differences between Partners and Millennial employees? How do you deal with difficult people and pressure generally?

In terms of support networks, you can consider what makes a good mentor and how you might find one. It’s also worth anticipating, in the event that an office conflict breaks out, the strategies you might employ and who you can turn to.

Friday 21 April 2017

Using LinkedIn to boost your career in tax

LinkedIn is the premier professional networking platform, with over 450 million registered members around the world.

Employers are using LinkedIn more than ever to identify and recruit talent. This means all tax students should have an optimised, up-to-date LinkedIn profile to enhance their career prospects.

Here are some tips for building a LinkedIn profile that can attract the attention of hiring managers in tax firms.

Wednesday 12 April 2017

Tips for networking - at the office

Professional networking advice often follows the same script: hit the pavement, connect with industry peers on social media, attend events, get yourself known, and cast your net as far and wide as possible.

But what can you do to advance your career without leaving your current workplace.

Here are five tips for getting the benefits of networking at your office.

Wednesday 29 March 2017

What does work-life balance mean to you?

When you’re a newcomer to the workplace, there’s sometimes an expectation that you should clock in early, endure late nights and have lunch at your desk.


To demonstrate your worth with an unspoken promise that the ‘reward’ of downtime will duly come as you move up the ranks.

While many young guns (and even seasoned veterans) are happy to jump at the opportunity to prove themselves by undertaking additional work, it begs the question: Do you need to sacrifice your personal life for the sake of your career? Or is that an antiquated notion?

Tuesday 28 March 2017

'Why do you want a career in tax?'

You've finished your postgraduate tax degree and have landed an interview with a leading tax firm for a dream position that could launch your career.

Then comes the inevitable question: ‘Why do you want a career in tax?’

Here are three responses you can use to impress your future employer more than just: ‘Because I want to make heaps of money.’

Friday 17 February 2017

Survival tips for uni students

Prying yourself away from the beach, off the couch or out of bed to make it to university after a holiday or study break can be a challenge.

If 2017 is your first year at uni, here’s a quick guide to help you get the most from your time on campus.

Monday 6 February 2017

Save time on your job search

When you’re looking for a job, it’s easy to get sucked into spending hours on job sites and networks.

Here are seven ways to cut back the time it takes to achieve the results you want.

Monday 30 January 2017

How to handle difficult people in the workplace

One benefit of transitioning from university to full-time employment is the opportunity to work closely with friendly, supportive, inspiring people.

Unfortunately, you may also encounter individuals who aren’t so easy to get along with – and in the workplace, unlike at university, it’s difficult to ignore or get away from such people. You may even sit next to an unfriendly co-worker for hours each day.

Friday 20 January 2017

Time management skills for long-term success

You may have survived university on the basis of your talent and hard work. However, you’ll need to refine your organisational skills to survive, thrive and prosper over the long term in your chosen career.

If you haven’t already embraced the fundamental principles of time management, it’s worth starting now.

Here are a few tactics for getting more done in your day-to-day work.

Friday 13 January 2017

Active listening - a key skill for tax professionals

Active listening is a cornerstone of effective interpersonal communication. It’s therefore an essential skill for tax professionals.

Active listening involves both hearing what your client or colleague is saying and ensuring they know you hear what they’re saying.

It helps you to build rapport with your clients and colleagues. It demonstrates your respect for them. It also helps you to earn their trust.

They’ll know that any recommendations you subsequently present will be based on a deep understanding of their specific needs.

Friday 6 January 2017

How to customise your resume

Photo credit: flazingo_photos via / CC BY-SA

Accounting and legal graduates often make the mistake of using the same version of their resume in all their job applications.

Better to customise the content in response to the selection criteria and responsibilities of the position you’re interested in. That way you demonstrate, from the beginning, that you have what it takes to succeed in that position.