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4 Essential Skills for Entry-Level Finance Professionals

WEBINAR: LaSalle Network Senior Director of Corporate and Campus Recruiting, Megan Trzcinski, outlined top tips on how the Class of 2021 can successfully land a position post-graduation in our webinar, Standing Out in a Recovering Workforce. If you missed the live webinar, we’ve got you covered. Download the recording here. 
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Although this year’s graduating class is entering one of the strongest jobs markets we’ve seen in decades, and one that looks drastically different than what their predecessors graduated into last year, it doesn’t mean they should expect to walk across the stage and straight into their dream job. Especially as 79% of respondents in a recent survey of 2021 college graduates reported they believe it will be more difficult to get a job due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Below we are sharing 4 ways accounting and finance candidates can stand out during the interview process.  

 

Software Certifications 

The increased focus on digitization and automation over the last year has encouraged more hiring managers to look for financial professionals with the IT skills and certifications to leverage their preferred financial systems. Candidates who can demonstrate competency in predictive analytics, accounting automation, data visualization and/or accounting software are likely to stand out as top candidates. If there are relevant courses or certifications attained in these areas, be sure to include them oresume and in the skills and certification portion of a LinkedIn profile.  

Highlight specific software learned in school or independently by name, such as QuickBooks, Tableau or Python to help stand outWhile looking to gain new skills or certifications, consider utilizing LinkedIn Learning for courses on any of the aforementioned software, or visit the websites of each to find relevant how-to guides or videos introducing the basics of each product. 

Those considering pursuing certifications such as Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) or Certified Public Accountant (CPA) should highlight their intention to do so on a resume or in an interview, in addition to how they are tracking or progressing in those certifications. These rigorous certifications display dedication to a career path within finance. 

 

Presenting Business Value 

Financial professionals must not only be able to create accurate and informative financial models, but also be able to clearly present them to business leadership, as well. This takes an eye for design and excellent communication skills to translate financial data into concrete takeaways for the business. 

One way to showcase this during the interview process is by highlighting relevant school projects. Include examples of relevant school presentations as work samples accompanying an application. Be clear that the examples were a part of a school project, versus professional experience, and prepare to speak to the skills and outcomes learned from each. There are also many online courses for mastering financial modeling in excel, if seeking to develop these skills furtherView one such online resource here. 
 

Analytical Skills 

Finance teams need employees who can manage financial data, as well as analyze scenarios and draw suitable conclusions. Many employers are attracted to candidates who display skills involving strategic thinking, big data, and technology with real-world examplesresults and analysis.  

Whether through internships or school projects, prepare examples of analytical skills. Consider instances of catching potential issues within major projects and how they were remedied. Include work samples of data analysis from various school projectshighlighting takeaways and trends from the data. 

 

Communication 

Strong finance professionals must be able to communicate clearly and effectively with leaders and other non-finance professionals within the business, describing complex issues and jargon in simple terms with concrete takeawaysThis includes both written and verbal communication skills. 

A strong candidate must be able to display interpersonal skills and an understanding of industry terminology in order to translate complex issues simply. Consider practicing translating key financial terminology into simple language and explaining these concepts to a friend or family member without a financial background. 

Also consider attending networking events specific to financial professionals, either virtually or in person, to practice communicating with others in the space and learn more about industry trends. 

 

At LaSalle, we have helped over 4,000 recent college graduates find jobs in the past year. We are partnered with top companies to hire entry-level professionals in the Chicagoland area.  

We work with smart, motivated individuals like yourself to help you find careers you love. If you recently graduated or plan to graduate in May 2021, we can help you! We’re hosting a recent grad virtual interview day on May 4th. Click here to sign up. 

 

For additional resume help, attend our virtual resume workshop geared toward entry-level professionals looking to stand out in a recovering workforce on June 19, from 12:30-1:30 CT. Click here for more information.  

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