The old-fashioned idea that the finance industry is just about number-crunching in a cubicle doesn’t cut it any more. In today’s economy, it’s all about the efficient creation, communication and dissemination of knowledge.
To succeed in the financial world, you will need the ability to build successful relationships, using interpersonal skills, as well as ensuring you have recognised industry qualifications.
What is the Knowledge Economy?
The World Bank has set four pillars of the knowledge economy: education, innovation systems, information infrastructure, and economic and institutional regimes. Where you have an educated population, you have the scope to use knowledge effectively, thus creating a workforce where individuals can increase and share knowledge, contributing to economic growth overall.
Education in this context includes school education, further education, vocational training and lifelong learning. Innovation allows businesses to tap into global knowledge, research and development. Information Infrastructure facilitates communication, and ICT provides the interface for all knowledge-driven economies across the globe. Finally, economic and institutional regimes offer incentives for the creation and distribution of existing knowledge.
The Knowledge Economy (KE) relies on production, distribution and the sharing of ideas and information. Australia is doing well as a knowledge economy, rated above the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average for most indicators of readiness to move towards a knowledge-based economy, with continued robust growth predicted shortly. You can find more on related data here.
In the finance industry, ensuring employees can apply knowledge and keep up to speed with ever-changing technologies and skills is paramount, and the right mix of soft and IT skills will set you apart from the crowd when job-hunting. Top capabilities vary by a specific job. However, soft skills are essential across the board and can enhance your competitiveness in the employment marketplace.
To progress in today’s fast-paced business world, you need to develop and upgrade your skills continually. Do you know what the crucial skills required for your industry are? Do you have them? Can you offer demonstrative evidence that you are up to date in your skills and thinking?
Engaging in professional learning, or Continued Professional Development, will give you an advantage when employers are looking at prospective candidates. As well as showing your actual skill set and confirming your ability to do the job, it also demonstrates your willingness to learn and take on new ideas and challenges.
In the finance world, you’ll also need to ensure you can demonstrate various specialist skills, such as a high competence for analytics and financial reporting, as well as being able to employ lateral thinking. With increased development and progression in ICT, you’ll also need to ensure you are proficient in current software and practice, backed up with concrete examples.
Are you fully conversant with industry trends and market demand? There are many ways to ensure you are up to speed – follow critical influencers on social media, listen to relevant podcasts, subscribe to business blogs, use analytical tools – showing an interest in the industry trends ensures you come across as forward-thinking, willing to take on new practices and ideas to ensure your business remains competitive.
It’s essential to have distinct examples of these abilities to enable you to demonstrate your skills on your CV and at interview. Take time to think about how you can do this to best show your aptitude for the role.
Don’t Forget Soft Skills
As well as the pieces of paper that confirm your qualifications, you will also need to consider your transferable, or ‘soft’ skills. These are attributes that are important whatever the job for which you’re applying. Soft skills include the ability to listen to others, show empathy, work ethic, how you manage conflict, attitude, teamwork, creative thinking and communication style. They characterise how you interact with others, and as they are developed over your lifetime, are harder to measure. However, employers value soft skills highly. Not only do they provide an indicator of a prospective employee’s ability to adapt, but they offer a great indication of how you will give a good ‘fit’ in the culture of the workplace, and increasingly employers are using a behavioural-based interview structure to gauge candidates’ skills such as teamwork, problem–solving and attention to detail.
Making a list of the soft skills you possess, and comparing them to the requirements of the job you’re applying for, will show you what the employer is looking for in a candidate. If you have additional skills not mentioned in the job advert that you think is relevant, include them as keywords on your CV and covering letter.
Why Employers Care About Soft Skills
After all, unless you’re working in a vacuum, you will need to interact with others in some way. So being able to engage is vital in any job. If you’re likely to be in direct contact with customers, you will need the skills to be able to listen and provide a polite and helpful service. At the very least, you’ll be interacting, discussing and collaborating with colleagues, which requires several soft skills. It also makes for a happier workplace!
Also, as soft skills are acquired and developed over time, candidates with excellent soft skills are often seen as having broad experience which can help diversify, enabling the company to grow and progress over time. Another reason employers like transferable skills are that, by their very nature, they can be deployed into any position, making you an adaptable employee.
Make sure you draw attention to the soft skills you have that are relevant to the job you want. Include them in your CV and covering letter, and at interview use opportunities to show them by listening to what the employer is saying (even if you’ve heard it before), being polite and friendly to everyone you meet (even when the interviewer is not around – you never know who will report back!) and show a positive attitude.
So, brush up on your skills, get that additional training if you need it, and ensure you gain the competitive advantage you need to become the sought-after professional employers need. You can find more information and key tips on our website here.
JobFitts Consultants are a specialist provider of professional Recruitment Services for the Financial Services sector and related suppliers in Australia. Since 2003 we have recruited and placed a breadth of operational roles at all levels from HR, Accounting, Marketing and Customer Service/Frontline.
To find out more visit our website at JobFitts here or call us on (02) 9220 3595 or email here.