In Demand Soft Skills of 2020

When hiring managers assess candidates for fit, they focus on soft skills, behaviours and aptitudes that show them how well you’ll mesh with others at the company. Qualities such as being a good communicator or having a strong work ethic are obvious requirements and often what candidates aim to prove when interviewing for a job. But what other qualities are important to employers in 2020?

We did some digging (and asking) and here are the top 3 in-demand soft skills of the year:

Creativity

Both LinkedIn and the World Economic Forum cited creativity in their findings of top qualities that employers seek in ideal candidates. This is something we hear a lot from our clients too: they want professionals who can contribute innovative ideas and are not afraid to think outside of the box. Creative employees often seek new ways of performing tasks, they are curious, open to learning, and help companies push the boundaries in a very competitive business landscape.

Recruiter Tip!
A good way to showcase your creativity in the finance and accounting industry is to describe a problem or challenge that you’ve solved creatively, using critical thinking and analysis to determine a new, more effective way of achieving the end result.

Collaboration

Well here you have it: teamwork was essential to workplaces 20 years ago and it continues to be important today. Teams can accomplish way more than any individual and so employers want to hire professionals who can effectively and respectfully collaborate with diverse types of people. Roles have become more specialized and according to a researcher at Kellog School of Management companies, to remain successful, are creating bigger working groups with more specializations and encouraging sharing of information within workplaces.

Recruiter Tip!
Show that you are a collaborator by describing a project that you worked on as part of a team. Highlight ways in which you learned from others, how you navigated differences of opinion, and what you find most enjoyable about collaborating with others.

Adaptability

A common challenge our clients experience with hiring finance and accounting professionals is rigidity in habits and expectations. 2020 has taught us that the business world is unpredictable and changes in methods, technology, and processes can happen on a dime. Which is why we chose adaptability as the third important soft skill of 2020. Employees who embrace change and are willing to get out of their comfort zone are more valuable to companies especially now that many organizations are pivoting in new directions to stay in business.

Recruiter Tip!
During an interview, describe how you have adapted to working differently under COVID19 restrictions and what new skills you have gained as a result. Outline any learning and professional development that you’ve engaged it to keep up with new trends.

With the rise of AI and automation of tasks, soft skills are more important than ever. In fact 92% of recruitment professionals and hiring managers polled by LinkedIn agree that strong soft skills are essential to the workplace and bad hires generally have poor soft skills.

For more information and tips on how to highlight your soft skills during an interview, contact one of our recruiters at info@ptcrecruiting.com

Do’s and Don’ts of F&A Resume Writing

Hiring managers skim through a ton of resumes daily and need to identify quickly which ones make the cut and which ones don’t. It is tough to summarize your career on a single document –skillfully articulating positions you’ve held, certifications you’ve earned and companies you’ve worked for.

Whether you’re creating a new resume from scratch or updating a current one, here are some of our do’s and don’ts to help you to put together a purposeful career document that brings you closer to your next job.

Do’s

1. Choose a Functional Resume Format

Most finance resumes use a chronological approach to display work experience. Experiment with a functional format that follows the chronological listing of work experience along with a detailed list of skills and certifications. Include a headline that clearly communicates your goals and qualifications. Customize your summary for each position, research what the company is looking for in a candidate and make note of those attributes in your summary statement. Make your summary unique, let it tell the interviewer something about yourself that the rest of your resume won’t.

2. Quantify Your Experience

The work experience section of your resume is the most daunting one to highlight. Numbers make a huge difference to any resume, try to quantify as much of your experience as possible. If you’re hesitant to use exact figures, consider using range, percentage increases/decreases, frequency, and scale to emphasize your impact. For example; responsible for preparing multiple financial reports on a weekly basis has a better impact than responsible for the preparation of financial reports. Similarly, managed a portfolio of over 500 clients, 50+ calls per day, recovered 2+ million in 2018 sounds much better than dealt with high-volume collections and recovered millions for the company.

3. Include Specific Keywords

Be specific with your skills, certifications and use strategic keywords relevant to the job description. Only those candidates whose resume matches to what recruiters are looking for will make it to the top of the pile. Some finance keywords to consider include finance analysis, corporate accounting, financial planning, budgeting, tax accounting etc. Don’t overdo it with F&A acronyms and technical jargon. Technical expertise is crucial for a career in finance, but employers want to see proof of soft skills such as critical thinking, communication, and time management.


Don’t

1. Use Too Many Empty Words

Avoid excessive use of terms like “detail-oriented”, “results-driven” or “change agent”. Include terms that are specific to your skills and abilities. Discard any flattery, unnecessary descriptions or words that don’t add value to your professional career. Ideal F&A resume length should be 2 pages – every word is precious!

2. Focus on Job Titles

Employers may be more interested in your job accomplishments than job title. Reduce your focus on job titles and add more weight to your accomplishments within a specific role, positive changes you’ve helped to implement, and accounting software that you’ve mastered

3. Overdue Work Experience

There is no need to mention every job you’ve had, especially if it is not related to the role you’re currently pursuing. Limit your work experience to positions that align with your qualifications and career goals.

Key Questions To Ask Remote Employers

As we recover from the pandemic and some companies make the move towards establishing remote work on a permanent basis, candidates will likely see a lot more opportunities for teleworking roles. While it may not be an ideal fit for everyone, remote jobs provide greater flexibility, less constraints around location, and a more technology dependent working environment.

In order to assess whether the remote role you’re applying for is well supported by the organization that’s offering it, consider asking these 3 questions at the interview:

1. Can you describe your company’s remote culture?
Some companies might have an established remote workforce while others might be new to this. Because remote employees can feel disconnected, it’s important for organizations to bring everyone together, encourage frequent collaboration, and have a check-in system in place. Get a sense of how frequently the teams communicate and by what method, whether there are any virtual team events in place, or what their policies are for creating an inclusive culture that address the challenges of distance work.

2. What technologies do you have in place to support remote work?
There are many different technologies on the market that allow for collaboration and communication between team members, such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Google Hangouts, and Slack. You want to ensure that the company will provide such resources so you can get to know everyone at the company and have an established method of communication with your team. It is also key to determine how easily you’ll be able to share and access files. Is the company working from a cloud environment? What type of IT support will be provided? Make sure that you are comfortable or open to learning their tech stack.

3. How do you track productivity of remote employees?
Productivity tracking is done differently across organizations and even teams within one company. Some roles require closer monitoring than others. Companies can track work by using technologies such as ActivTrak or opt for an honour system. It’s important to find out what the process and expectations are around the role you’re applying for. Are you expected to work during certain hours or is there room for flexibility? Does this job have frequent deadlines and a defined reporting structure? Get as much clarity on expectations as you can.

When you interview for a remote role, ask the right questions to gauge your fit. Companies that have a well-thought-out remote work support system in place will add to your and their success.

Return to Work Anxiety: How to Help Your Employees

As governments loosen restrictions, many employers have begun developing plans to ensure that employees are brought back to an office setting safely. This includes operational and logistical considerations, setting up employee schedules, elevator usage policies and much more. But it’s important to also address and plan for how to deal with feelings of stress and anxiety around the return to work.

These uncertain times have taken a toll on the mental health of many employees, affecting future productivity and engagement levels. According to a survey conducted by KRC Research and Weber Shandwick, 45 per cent of employees are afraid that their employer will bring them back to the office before it is safe. Additionally, only 34 per cent of employees feel safe returning to work when there is a vaccine or treatment and 52 per cent of employees have growing concerns about the future of their company and their role.

Here are few tips that can help employers strategize for the new normal and address return-to work anxiety:

1. Communicate transparently and regularly
Consistent two-way communication is key to managing employee anxiety. Ensure that your teams receive regular updates about company performance, ongoing initiatives and any business-related information. Keep employees abreast of information that is critical to their role and to the success of your organization. Endorse transparency and engage teams to be a part of the growing conversation.

2. Implement Recommended Public Health Measures
Employees need to be aware of how the company is implementing, monitoring and enforcing government recommended public health measures. CDC provides a comprehensive guideline to help businesses and employers respond to COVID19 within the workplace. Provide your employees with assurance that preventive steps are being taken, closely monitor developments and update protocols as the situation evolves.

3. Provide training to leadership teams
Employees will depend on their managers and leaders to ensure a smooth back to work transition. Organize virtual training sessions that focus on managing a hybrid workforce, developing emotional intelligence and building a collaborative work culture. Arm your leaders with the necessary resources and tools to effectively address employee anxiety over return to work and provide healthy ways to cope with it.

4. Be Flexible
If your company has implemented remote work, consider surveying your employees to see how they feel about continuing that arrangement for a definitive period of time. Gauge the success of your remote work experiment by monitoring the productivity and engagement levels. Employees will expect flexibility, particularly if they are looking after children and parents. For employees that thrive better in an office setting, evaluate and plan for hybrid working arrangements.

How to Avoid Job Search Burnout

Looking for work is like a job itself. It involves a lot of strategic planning, hard work and patience. Whether it is the pandemic that has forced you to look for new employment opportunities, or you have been on the hunt for a while now, don’t let job searching burn you out.

Here are some best practices to help you:

1. Develop a Strategy: Build a daily routine with specific goals and work your way through them. Start your job search process by determining your career aspirations and evaluating any skills gaps. Update your resume with latest work experience, certifications and expertise. Use your time effectively by brainstorming ideal companies you would like to work for and make yourself familiar with their job application process.

2. Track Your Job Search: When you do not have a plan in place, it is easy to lose track of the jobs you have applied for. It is very common these days to apply for multiple opportunities, confuse companies and positions and forget to follow up. One of the best ways to keep track of your job applications is to maintain an active spreadsheet that details out company name, job role, job title, job source, point of contact etc. This will help you stay organized during your job search, keeping priorities in check and saving you from squandering precious time and energy.

3. Leverage Your Network & Social Channels: This is the right time to tap into your network, connect with former colleagues, friends and get your name out there. Let people know that you are actively looking for opportunities and share your personal brand. Utilize this time to get creative and make the most out of your social profiles. According to a CareerBuilder survey, 70% of hiring managers use social media to screen candidates. Channelize your passion and engage in meaningful conversations on social media. From updating your LinkedIn profile to creating content, getting yourself out there can put you in the right place at the right time.

4. Be Patient: During your job search process, try to maintain a positive outlook and believe in yourself. Remember that job searching is a process and will not deliver results overnight. Ideally, you want to find a role that motivates you to work better everyday and be a part of a work family that supports professional and personal development goals.

4 Ways to Boost Employee Morale While Working Remotely

Retaining employee morale is a struggle point for many employers right now. The Society for Human Resource Management states that 65% of employers find maintaining employee morale during COVID-19 to be a problem.

It’s not surprising that decreased productivity and disengagement are the result of our current working conditions: working from home, often feeling isolated and anxious about COVID19, having to parent children while focusing on work tasks, unable to make meaningful connections with your coworkers virtually, and feeling burned out with limited outlets to relieve stress.

We have all heard the statistics before and know that happy employees make for a successful business. Disengaged workers can cost anywhere between $483-605 billion per year according to Gallup’s, State of the American Workplace Report, and that’s under normal circumstances.

But how to keep employees happy right now? It’s not so easy. Company owners and managers have to get a bit more creative, and go the extra mile, to keep their teams engaged, productive, and satisfied. We offer some simple ways to boost morale and retain your top talent throughout the pandemic and thereafter:

1. Provide Opportunities for Professional Development: Learning new things has never been easier. Offer your team time and resources to develop new skills, explore their creativity, and catch up on industry trends. This will build confidence and focus while helping to cultivate a growth-mindset for the company. Encourage participation at informative virtual events such as industry specific webinars. Show your employees that there is room to grow, even right now, by moving forward with rather than halting any career advancement opportunities. Lastly, allow your employees to apply their new knowledge as their evolution will ultimately translate into company growth.

2. Recognize & Reward: This is not the time to skimp on praise and recognitions. Mental health issues are on the rise. The challenges of working in isolation have led to lower confidence and general feelings of being left out. Provide recognition to your team for their efforts to keep them feeling motivated and valued. Cultivate a work environment that supports constant feedback and acknowledgement. Consider rewarding employees for achieving targets and delivering quality work.

3. Celebrate “Togetherness”: Making work fun is a bit tricky right now when you can’t treat your team to after work drinks or organize a company scavenger hunt where colleagues can bond over an entertaining activity. But it doesn’t mean that it can’t happen in other ways. Virtual company events can be as effective in bonding coworkers and providing opportunities for some fun. There are several new companies on the market right now that offer moderated virtual events such as murder mystery or bingo games.

4. Increase flexibility: Being a flexible employer right now is key. Working from home can easily blur the line between professional and personal life. This is part of the challenge and the reason why many employees are feeling overwhelmed, overworked, and therefore disengaged. And with kids at home it is often difficult to maintain a 9-5 schedule. Acknowledge these struggle points and work with your team to develop a plan that will ensure optimal productivity even if that means they have to take the afternoon off but work into the night.

Make employee wellness the center of your business strategy. Invest in strengthening your employees’ emotional commitment towards work and focus on engagement practices that will help them to flourish and feel united with the company.

The Pros and Cons of Virtual Accounting Teams

Remote work is reshaping the future of employment, inclusive of finance roles. According to LinkedIn’s Workplace Confidence Index, 83 percent of Finance professionals claim that they can be individually effective when working remotely while 82 percent felt the entire industry could be remotely effective. Which is not surprising considering that many finance tasks do not require frequent interaction between people. Are virtual accounting teams then the way of the future? Maybe so. Companies shouldn’t dismiss the idea.

We put together a list of pros and cons for employing a virtual finance and accounting team, to help get the conversation started:

PROS

Real-Time Access To Accounts: Cloud-based accounting software such as Quickbooks, Freshbooks, Wave and Xero and file hosting platforms such as Google Drive and Dropbox have enabled accounting teams to work remotely and share financial data easily. Leadership teams can access up-to date financial reports in a timely manner and can be sure to achieve higher data accuracy because of the multiple eyes on the books. Real-time access to accounts also allows for data-driven decision making.

Flexible Hiring: Virtual accounting professionals can be more easily hired on an as needed basis and are unrestricted by geography thus expanding your talent pool. Since accounting and bookkeeping needs can vary from one financial period to another, companies can hire contract/temporary accounting professionals to work on specific projects for a certain number of hours without the hassle of setting them up in a physical setting.

Cost Savings: With virtual accounting teams, companies can benefit from reduced overhead costs, like paying for extra office space and supplies to accommodate additional hires, especially ones that come on board for a temporary period to help with project needs.  There is also potential to save costs on computers if you allow your remote team to use personal devices.  

CONS

Limited Control: Managers could feel that a certain degree of control has been lost with virtual teams. Therefore, it is important to maintain consistent communication and conduct regular check-ins to keep a tab on the company’s finances.

Poor Coordination: If your accounting team requires on-site collaboration with other departments or needs access to in-house systems to carry out specific functions, going virtual might result in poor coordination and hinder productivity.

Data Security Threats: As company’s leverage cloud-based technologies for remote data access, it becomes easier for hackers to misuse sensitive financial information. Safeguarding financial information beyond the bounds of a company’s internal network is crucial. Virtual accounting teams should consider implementing multi-factor authentication to ensure that confidential information is not being compromised at any cost.

Benefits of Hiring Remote Workers

Remote work life has become the ‘new normal’ for most of us. Staff Accounting, Bookkeeper, Accounting Clerk and Coordinator are some of the fastest growing Finance & Accounting job categories in the work from home landscape. Cloud-based technologies and collaborative platforms have enabled smooth remote work transition for companies and have allowed employees to experience the power of utilizing data in the cloud.

Here are some benefits of hiring remote workers:

1. Reduces Business Costs
Hiring remote workers can result in significant business savings -office expenses, including infrastructure, utilities and supplies. Additionally, not all employees that work around the 9-5 clock are productive, resulting in more time wasted. With remote workers, hours billed = hours worked.

2. Increases Productivity
When companies offer the flexibility of remote work, employee satisfaction and productivity increases. 77% of remote employees say they are more productive when working from home (HubSpot, 2020). Employee monitoring software such as Teramind, VeriClock, ActivTrak, TimeDoctor are valuable productivity tracking tools that can help employers validate hours billed to hours worked.

3. Access To Deeper Talent Pool
Unrestricted by geography, hiring remote workers expands your talent pool and increases your chances of acquiring top talent. Your company now has the flexibility to staff based on business priorities and can hire specialized workforce for specific remote projects. Since 2015, the number of employees working remotely has grown by 44 percent (Wong, 2020).

4. Reduced Employee Turnover
Companies that hire remote workers also benefit from reduced employee turnover. 90% of employees claim that flexible work arrangements and schedules have increased their morale (Flexjobs, 2020). Employees enjoy the boost to their work-life balance that comes from a remote position and tend to stay at their jobs for a longer period of time.

The world might never be the same again as this remote working mandate takes over our traditional 9-5 regime. Remote work benefits employees and does wonders for businesses as well. At PTC we connect you with F&A, Administrative and Human Resources professionals who can work remotely.

5 Tips for Successful Business Continuity During COVID19

By our sister company, ProVision Staffing

Even under these unprecedented circumstances, some businesses are continuing to operate smoothly. What’s their secret? They acknowledge the challenges and also focus on the opportunities to make their company more resilient.

We offer 5 important strategies for businesses on a mission to stay alive, stay relevant, and come out of this pandemic less harmed:

1. Invest in remote work setups – Since 2010, the amount of people that work remotely once a week has grown by 400%. (Hubspot Research) Prior to the global pandemic, only 41% of global businesses offered remote work flexibility (flexjobs.com). Now is the time to increase your company’s investments in videoconferencing tools and collaboration software, many of which do not require a huge budget.

2. Consider contract employment – Contract employment gives businesses the freedom to “hire talent on-demand”. The flexibility and scalability of contract staffing allows businesses to achieve their long-term and short-term growth targets, which makes this staffing solution ideal for challenging economic times.

3. Keep communicating with & supporting your employees – It becomes extremely crucial to calm and reassure your workforce during such uncertain times. Employers must encourage upskilling, boost morale with special incentives and schedule regular video calls etc to maintain your teams momentum.

4. Plan for the future – Use this decrease in pace to re-evaluate and identify new business opportunities. Start building new connections, growing your social media presence and developing a strong comprehensive plan for COVID19 recovery.

5. Support your client base – Show your clients that you are here for them, and that you care about them. Avoid pushing for sales and take the time to listen to their concerns. Strengthen existing relationships by providing solutions that will appeal to them and that are relevant under existing circumstances. It is important to be recognize and plan that your customers’ requirements might change post COVID19.

It’s important for businesses to be adaptable and open to change. Post COVID-19 the world will likely be a different place, at least for the next little while, and businesses that are set up to adapt to the “new normal” will have the competitive advantage.