After graduating college, financial students may have a hard time landing their first role. While that isn’t uncommon, that reality doesn’t put food on the table. Fortunately, there’s a lot you can do to make yourself look more attractive to employers, including adopting a few new skills.
7 Overlooked financial skills graduates should have
Financial graduates already know they need knowledge of accounting practices, software, and organizational skills to succeed in their industry, but what do students frequently overlook?
1. Competent study skills and a growth mindset
After graduating college, you’re probably comfortable with studying, test taking, and writing essays. However, no financial career has to begin and end with a financial degree. If you intend to go up the career ladder, you need to obtain additional certification in your field of choice.
For example, you can become a Certified Financial Analyst (CFA) shortly after getting your degree. Take a look at a few CFA mock questions to see if you want to tackle the actual test.
But there are many more options available if you don’t want to become a financial analyst. CPA, or a Certified Public Accountant, is the most popular option for students. Either way, a growth mindset will serve you well in this career, especially if you want to keep earning more.
2. Great people skills and public speaking skills
A lot of introverts are attracted to the finance field because most tasks don’t require interaction with the public, especially if they’re a private accountant. However, even in those roles, great people skills are essential. When people like you, you’ll open more doors to opportunities.
When you have strong people skills, you can pitch yourself, overcome social anxiety, influence others positively, and communicate your ideas. All of these skills are needed in your career.
Keep in mind that some roles need this skill more than others. For example, a business analyst should have superior public speaking skills because they have to speak to stakeholders on a daily basis. These talks usually take place in a big boardroom accompanied by a PowerPoint.
3. Knowing basic accounting and financial statements
It sounds strange that basic accounting knowledge is an overlooked skill, but according to many accountants that work in the field, this skill isn’t as common as you think. Finance courses often move past the basics because they assume you know it, but most of us are financially illiterate.
When you don’t know the basics, it’s hard to move up from there. Before looking for a job, make sure you’re comfortable with creating a payroll system, tax regulations, and business budgeting.
Above all else, learn how to prepare financial statements. You’ll have to read or create income statements, balance sheets, profit and loss statements, and cash flow statements in every single job you have. Being familiar with these documents will do a lot to jumpstart your career.
4. Tracking search engine optimization (SEO) metrics
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving your site to increase its visibility on search engines. While the tactics surrounding SEO should be left up to marketers, you should learn how to calculate SEO ROI because it’s something businesses struggle with.
SEO ROI doesn’t correlate to a single metric or key performance indicator, meaning business owners will have a hard time understanding how much they made from this marketing tactic.
To improve this skill, finance graduates should be familiar with website analytics software, such as Google Analytics. This Semrush article can show you how to track eCommerce conversion values and lead generation conversion values, so you can calculate the return on investment.
5. The ability to communicate their ideas effectively
As a member of the financial industry, you’re in charge of two things: using someone else’s money effectively and saving businesses money. While you’d assume these go hand-in-hand, they often don’t. A lot of money is wasted because we don’t consider a process inefficient.
If something has been done for a while, it’s assumed it’s the best way. However, it’s your job to prove there’s a better way. You’ll do this by communicating your ideas quickly and efficiently.
All your boss cares about is how their investment sets them apart from the competition and whether they’ll see a return on investment. It’s great that you understand the narrative and numbers, but you shouldn’t use them to overload your clients with unnecessary financial jargon.
6. Interpersonal communication and empathy
Communicating your ideas effectively isn’t just about eliminating jargon; it’s about framing your argument in a way the other person understands. Financial laymen are coming to you because they don’t understand finances. The last thing they want is to be mocked or condescended to.
That’s why interpersonal communication in finance is so important. It’s the ability to change the way you say something depending on an individual’s personality or breadth of knowledge.
Empathy also goes a long way. The person sitting across from you may be there because a loved one died or they’re in financial distress. It’s a good idea to come to your clients where they’re at. You can do this by asking questions about their needs and financial end goals.
7. Learning how to manage up (unmanage your boss)
Have you ever had a disorganized or disengaged boss who doesn’t communicate what they expect from you? These types of managers are really common, and learning how to handle them can save your career. This is called “managing up,” which helps you and your boss.
It starts with communicating your priority and seeking feedback. Asking your boss what they need and when they need it can take a lot off their plate and establish a clear schedule.
Keep in mind that it’ll take some time for your boss to get organized. You may need to adjust your communication style or wait for the optimal time to discuss problems. Either way, there’s little downside to helping your boss out from time to time, as it forms a stronger bond with them.