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Survey Shows Interpersonal Skills Can Trump Industry Knowledge in Job Search

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Survey Shows Interpersonal Skills Can Trump Industry Knowledge in Job SearchTORONTO, Oct. 21 /CNW/ – Having a winning personality has always helped in making friends or getting a date, but a recent survey confirms it also opens doors in the job search. When presented with accounting or finance candidates who possess similar qualifications, 34 per cent of chief financial officers (CFOs) interviewed said applicants’ people skills would tip the balance over such attributes as industry experience and software proficiency. This is up significantly from five years ago when interpersonal skills were cited by only 1 per cent of respondents.

The survey was developed by Accountemps, the world’s first and largest specialized staffing service for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals, and conducted by an independent research firm. It was based on telephone interviews with more than 270 CFOs across Canada.

CFOs were asked, “If two candidates interviewing for an accounting or finance position had similar skills, which one of the following additional qualifications would you find most valuable?” Their responses:

2009                                           2004

Personality or people skills………………………….              34%                                             1%

Industry-specific experience………………………….             28%                                          55%

Software and/or technology knowledge…………………..  19%                                         24%

Certification or advanced degree………………………            8%                                         13%

Multilingual skills………………………………….                           5%                                           2%

International experience……………………………..                    2%                                           4%

None……………………………………………….                                 3%                                            0%

Don’t know/no answer…………………………………                   1%                                            1%

——                                           ——

100%                                        100%

“Interpersonal skills are essential in today’s work culture where employees share ideas and collaborate to overcome challenges,” said Kathryn Bolt, president of Accountemps’ Canadian operations. “Accountants in particular must be able to work with various departments, offer strategic recommendations and present financial information to non-financial audiences.”
Bolt pointed out that job seekers should use the employment interview as an opportunity to showcase their people skills. “Practicing responses to interview questions will help candidates relax and make a good impression on the employer. Describing past experiences requiring strong teamwork, leadership and communication skills will give them a leg up on the competition as well.”

About the Survey

 
The national study was developed by Accountemps, a division of Robert Half International and the world’s first and largest specialized staffing service for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on more than 270 telephone interviews with CFOs from a random sample of Canadian companies.
About Accountemps

Accountemps has more than 360 offices worldwide and offers online job search services at www.accountemps.com.

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