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Ambitious accounting students want to embark on successful careers, not merely pass the classes needed to graduate. The difference between getting a job and reaching for their career goals has to do with a lot more than what their final grades are.

Smart students will prepare themselves for a job market that is awash in competent accounting grads by setting themselves apart. Employers are looking for intangibles, but you can do a few things to signal you have the qualities they are looking for. The Journal of Accountancy offers six tips on how to land the best jobs and position yourself to excel.

  1. LICENSURE. Most states require a certain amount of work experience before getting a CPA license, but that doesn't mean accounting firms won't be concerned with the license. Many of the largest firms require new hires to have earned the academic hours required for taking the CPA exam and want to see evidence of progression toward taking it. Some even offer bonuses to encourage professional licensure.
  2. TECH SKILLS. New grads aren't going anywhere without at least a basic knowledge of Excel, but prestige firms want to see a higher level of comfort with different types of technology systems. Lots of firms use proprietary software that new hires won't be familiar with, but by demonstrating a wide range of technology exposure and mastery, you can assure them that learning the software won't be a hurdle.
  3. COMMUNICATION. Skill with numbers is pretty much a given for accounting students, but those with communications skills will really set themselves apart. Being able to talk with clients and write clear proposals are assets every accounting firm is looking for. If you want to do more, you have to demonstrate that your abilities go beyond the accounting columns.
  4. BEING WELL-ROUNDED. Accounting firms are looking for well-rounded candidates, those who display a flexibility of intelligence and can contribute to the workplace in a variety of ways. A résumé that includes varied experiences and a willingness to take challenging and unusual classes signals a mind that is ready for growth and expansion. A firm wants to hire accountants, but it would like to think it is getting future superstars, leaders, and game-changers at the same time.
  5. BEING A TEAM PLAYER. Prospective employers look at résumés for a lot of things, but one of the most important is an indication that you can be a team player. Increasingly, accountants are integrated in management and leadership teams, and they have to be able to function smoothly in those arenas. Employers want to see evidence that you can succeed in a group, especially with different types of people in varied environments.
  6. EAGERNESS. A professional and realistic outlook in interviews and correspondence signals to an employer that you are ready for the corporate world. An employer wants people who understand the standards expected of them and will not have a problem living up to them. Confidence is an appealing attribute, but don't let it stray into unrealistic expectations of quick success. Employers want people who are ready to work hard every step of the way.

Walden University offers the environment and support you need to excel. Our accounting programs and concentrations and specializations are designed to broaden your mind and your horizons. With rigorous coursework and academic guidance, we can help you position yourself for a great accounting career.

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