What Makes You Different From Every Other Accountant?

You apply for an accounting job that you know you could do really well.

You get invited to the job interview.

It’s all going really well.

Then you get asked what makes you different from every other accountant?

For the well prepared candidate this shouldn’t be a difficult question to answer.

On the other hand it's easy to

  1. 1
    Panic
  2. 2
    Blurt something out
  3. 3
    Say something that’s really generic.

To avoid this the key is to spend some time really thinking about what sets you apart from every other accountant.

A structure that might be helpful is to look at this from a number of different angles.

So let me explain.

Knowledge

  • Think about all the knowledge you have acquired in relation to accounting.
  • Within all of your areas of knowledge, is there one or two areas that you really great at.
  • Alternatively it might be specific knowledge of a sector or industry.

Experience

  • Knowledge is what you know about.
  • Experience is something you have built up real expertise as a result of doing it.
  • When I work with clients I often uncover areas of experience with them that they just don’t give a second thought to.
  • For example I’ve had clients who have got experience of working internationally who think that’s nothing special.They don’t recognise the wider value of it and what it tells an employer about them as a person.
  • Another example is those employees who have been part of large scale, complex projects.

Achievements

  • This is probably one of those areas where so many accountants struggle.
  • And it’s not just those at more junior levels either.
  • I’ve had FDs who have struggled to come up with 5 achievements.
  • I think the reason is that people believe that to talk about something as an achievement it has to be really massive.
  • Truth is in the course of an accounting career you might have a handful of those massive achievements.
  • On the other hand you will have had many significant achievements.

Skills

  • You have strengths and you have weaker areas.
  •  So does everyone else.
  • Your strengths are what you make you different.
  • So ask yourself what are your real areas of strength when it comes to skills.

Personal Attributes

  • These are unique to you.  
  • Even if someone else has that same quality or attribute, you have a different blend or variety of that attribute because of who you are as a person.
  • Take something like building relationships across the business.  You will have your unique approach.
  • Similarly when it comes to constructively challenging, your style will be different to others.
  • Or your style of leading or managing a team will be unique to you

Top Tip

Take some time to stop, reflect and answer the question what makes you different from every other accountant.

About the Author Duncan Brodie

Since 2006 I’ve worked with in excess of 6,000 accountants and professionals in workshops, seminars and one to one helping them land their next jobs and become better leaders, presenters and business partners. Before that I spent 25 years in accountancy climbing the career ladder from Payments Clerk to FD. I’m a CIMA Fellow, Certified Professional Coach and Team Coach Facilitator.

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