Do you have a graduate (or even postgraduate) tax qualification? Are you looking to land a prestige tax, accounting or legal position?
To separate yourself from the pack of other candidates in the eyes of prospective employers, it pays to demonstrate the following four attributes.
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 tax qualification will, hopefully, have encouraged you to constantly ask that crucial ‘why?’ question.
James Collacott, a former dux of the Tax Institute's CTA2A 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 CTA2A 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. This means that, 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 that 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. A postgraduate tax course is a great place to begin forming relationships with others in the profession.
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 can do, or have done, for clients who have little interest in the intricacies of the Australian tax system.
Nicole Chromy says of her CTA2A Advanced course, “[It] 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 counter-intuitive, but the ability to cope with and, where appropriate, provoke discord is something every graduate should have, at least according to Sir Martin Sorrell, founder and CEO of 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 have the attributes (such as those listed above) that others don’t.
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