Could SAP experience matter more than a CPA? While there’s no denying the importance of obtaining your CPA, in today’s hot job market, accountants are finding that specialized systems expertise is just as vital. Having both, along with business analytics skills, will put you in a prime position to command top dollar at your next accounting role.

As an executive recruiter specializing in accounting and finance, I work with companies every day who are eager to hire top talent with the sought-after trifecta of systems expertise, business analytics experience, and a CPA or advanced accounting degree. Here’s how to make each of these accounting skills shine on your resume:

Specialized systems expertise

The days when an accountant would simply list “Microsoft Excel” as a skill on their resume are long gone. Companies use sophisticated enterprise software to manage business operations and they need talent that is fully up to speed on their systems. Unfortunately, this does not mean simply “system knowledge”; it means true expertise in their reporting system. Depending on the company, and the challenges they may be facing, the ability to create efficiencies, train staff, and learn the system entirely could be a determining factor in your candidacy. Recently, I ran a search for a Director of Accounting role in which someone who had fully implemented a particular software system was the most important qualification, mattering more than the candidate’s education, certifications, or industry experience.

Give your candidacy an edge: Position yourself as a unique solution provider for the company’s systems challenges. For example, if a company is still in the process of integrating new software, the organization may need an accounting professional who can also be a change agent, streamlining implementation and identifying new efficiencies. Be sure your resume demonstrates your ability to facilitate this process.

Business analytics

Organizations are struggling to make sense of overwhelming data volume even as business intelligence software becomes more commonplace. Consequently, there’s a high demand in the market for accounting and finance professionals who are adept at not just creating financial reports, but turning the data in these reports into actionable insights. It is important to incorporate a “why” mindset when doing your most mundane tasks. Start positioning yourself as a business partner when reporting the numbers, it will set you apart to your team and give you leverage when searching for a new role.

Give your candidacy an edge: Are you adept at analyzing historical data, identifying key trends, and then using these trends to shape business decisions? If so, quantify the impact you’ve had at previous companies. Candidates tend to list their job duties exactly as the job description read when they interviewed for the role. Take the time to highlight key accomplishments and ways in which you have impacted the business; this is your opportunity to tout your success and make a strong first impression. It is important to remember that companies are looking for the value you can add to their organization and your resume is your first chance to show them your value.

CPA vs MBA/MAcc

Innovative technologies may be rapidly changing the accounting landscape but being a Certified Public Accountant and obtaining a Master’s degree will still give candidates a strong competitive edge.

Give your candidacy an edge: If you haven’t done so already, consider whether now is the time to obtain your CPA or to obtain your Master’s degree. Obtaining your CPA certification and Masters shows an employer that you’re analytical, focused,  and driven enough to take your skill set to the next level.

What’s Next for Accounting Hires in 2018

With unemployment at the lowest level since 1953, companies are already struggling to hire top accounting and finance talent. By tailoring your resume to highlight these sought-after skills, you’ll be in a powerful position during your next job negotiation.

Finally, don’t overlook the benefits of working with a recruiter. Recruiters have a wealth of market intelligence at their fingertips. We know which companies are looking to hire, which skill sets and experience are most in demand, and how much companies are willing to pay for top talent. I’ve helped hundreds of professionals navigate strategic job changes, serving as a behind-the-scenes partner in making the right professional move.

Are you an accounting and finance professional looking for new opportunities or a company struggling to find that perfect hire? Please feel free to reach out to us and we will connect you with someone who can assist.