Professional communication refers to the oral, written, visual, and digital forms of delivering information in the context of a workplace. Effective professional communication is critical in today’s world. Accountants are taking an increasingly visible role within their organizations, working on cross-departmental projects ranging from strategic planning to information technology initiatives. In addition, they are presenting data to a number of diverse audiences. As a result, employers look for accounting professionals who not only possess financial expertise but also strong communication skills.
Accountants often are asked to work on cross-departmental projects ranging from strategic planning to information technology initiatives to presenting data to a number of diverse audiences. As a result, employers look for accounting professionals who not only possess financial expertise but also strong communication skills.
The AICPA recommends the following skills to all accounting professionals in order to support their own career growth:
- Interpersonal—As you work with individuals from different areas of your company, you’ll be required to address diverse business issues. You’ll also need to work well within a team, sharing the workload while completing assignments successfully and on deadline.
- Writing—Accounting professionals prepare myriad types of communications, including financial reports, inter-departmental memos, strategic plans and proposals. When drafting a document, organize your thoughts and use language that the recipients will understand. Be sure to proofread everything you write, and don’t simply rely on spell check. If written poorly, your messages may lose credibility or be dismissed altogether.
- Verbal—As an accounting professional, you must be able to convey complex information in terms that everyone can understand. The first step is to familiarize yourself with the topic. Next, research your audience, including their purpose for participating in the discussion, their concerns, time constraints and attitudes. Then, tailor your speech as appropriate. The more prepared and knowledgeable you are about the participants, the more confident you’ll be and the greater the impact your message will carry.
When hunting for a new job, the importance of email etiquette, and how it factors into your networking efforts, cannot be understated. Many students contact Kenan-Flagler alumni or recruiters via email, but few use this opportunity to its full potential. The following are some basic guidelines and tips to help you succeed in this process:
- Introduction: Put yourself in the shoes of the recipient. Their first question will likely be “who is emailing me?” Very briefly address this concern by introducing yourself as a MAC student from Kenan-Flagler Business School. If you are emailing a Kenan-Flagler alum, this short introduction will grab their attention and entice them to read further. You may also want to include a one or two-sentence description of your interests, background, and experience.
- Describe how you found them: Explain how you found someone’s contact information, whether that be Linked In, alumni database, or through another acquaintance. Doing so shows you put some time and effort into finding that individual and that you’re serious about learning more about the company and experiences.
- Explain why you are contacting them: Hopefully, by this point you’ve grabbed the reader’s attention. Now provide the reason for contacting them. In your first contact, focus on developing a relationship as opposed to outright asking for a job. Try something such as “I would like to learn more about your industry” or “I’d love to hear more about your personal experiences and career progression.” Or “I saw a position at your company that is very interesting and would like to learn more.”
- Call to Action/Next Steps: Sometimes people do not respond to emails because they don’t realize a response is necessary or requested. Conclude your email by making a call to action. Ask the recipient to respond with something specific, such as times that would work for a short phone call. You could also suggest 2-3 specific dates for 10-15 minutes, saying you understand they are very busy. (There is more of a chance of them responding if you give them specific dates to choose from AND more reason for them to take action).
- General Tips: Keep your networking email short and sweet. Only send during traditional work hours (8am – 6pm in their time zone) to respect their time. Do not attach your resume.
- Follow-up: Ideally, the individual you contact will reply immediately and schedule a time to speak over the phone or in person. However, recruiters and alumni receive dozens of emails every day and cannot respond to each one immediately. Do give the recipient ample time to responds, typically about a week, before following up.
Branding is a very important aspect of your career journey, particularly as you become part of the UNC Kenan-Flagler family, and join our vast network. As a current student, we suggest you use the following as your signature stamp, in all email communication.
You may use any font you desire, but suggested fonts include: Times New Roman, Arial, and Calibri