5 skills top tax pros excel in



The tax profession can be a stimulating, challenging, rewarding career choice for anyone with the right mindset and interests.

If you want to become a successful tax adviser, you’ll need to demonstrate an aptitude for study, a willingness to learn and to take initiative, and the capacity to solve technical problems.

No less important, however, are finely-tuned communication skills.

The ability to communicate involves digesting information and explaining solutions – in writing and in person. It also requires the capacity to write clearly, listen actively and speak persuasively.

Mastering communication is as important as mastering your technical education to begin and maintain a successful career in tax.

Here are five skills top tax professionals excel in:

1. Writing

Tax professionals deal with complex legislation and technical information daily. Successful ones communicate to clients and colleagues in a clear, concise manner.  They write concise, yet comprehensive letters of advice and know how to articulate the details and implications of complex legislation in a way their clients will understand.

Even the process of securing employment in tax will require you to demonstrate your expertise in communication through your professional resume, a compelling cover letter and the capacity to engage freely and authentically in the context of an interview.

2. Listening

Great tax professionals listen to those around them and:
  • Suspend judgment 
  • Become comfortable with silence
  • Give verbal feedback
  • Ask questions 
  • Take notes
  • Are aware of non-verbal communication such as body language. 

3. Speaking

Even the soft-spoken can still make an impact in every meeting by paying attention to these key areas:
  • Confidence: the best presenters project confidence, and confidence initially develops from being comfortable with your content. If you believe you’re an expert in terms of your subject matter, you’ll find it easier to feel confident and to project confidence.
  • Body language: your hands are shaky. Your stomach is doing somersaults. Instead of attributing your jitters as a sign that you’re not up to the task at hand, befriend your stress response, reframing it as a sign you’re ready for action and prepared to bring your best. Stand or sit up straight. Breathe deeply and slowly. Smile.
  • Voice: clarity is crucial. Many people rush their words when nervous, so be mindful of the flow and pace of your presentation. Include pauses, giving time for your words to sink in.
  • Rapport: try to build a warm rapport with your audience. After all, when you have rapport with someone, he or she will usually want to help you to succeed. Be genuine and show interest before getting down to business.



4. Networking

It’s easy to feel like networking is a waste of time, energy, or money—but that just means you’re doing it wrong.  A diverse network of connections – with a range of job titles, industries and locations – can offer opportunities for your career that you may never have envisioned.
  • Socialise: your main aim at a networking event may be to speak with the person in the room with the highest status. However, that doesn’t mean you should go in all guns blazing. Developing new working relationships should be a natural, fun process – not forced. Relax and be as friendly as you can to as many people as possible. 
  • Be genuine and approachable: the best approach, at any networking event, is to connect with people on an authentic, personal level. People respond to passion, so be prepared to share your personal interests with other attendees. The more compelling and believable the information you share, the more likely they’ll be to respond with the same enthusiasm. 
  • Be specific: have a clear, interesting, short and compelling pitch. Once you establish mutual benefit, don't drag the conversation on, but rather just ask to meet for coffee. Follow up at the time agreed during the conversation via email or LinkedIn, customising the message about what you discussed so they remember who you are. 
  • Make an impression: create a memorable impression by providing something tangible to consider. Are you looking for an internship over the summer break or a graduate position? What can you offer them, and how might they benefit from accepting your proposal? Ask good questions – what challenges does your industry currently face? Which professions are most useful to your organisations growth? Whatever it may be, arrive prepared and capitalise on your moment. 
  • Circulate: get into and out of the conversations quickly, reading the group body language to know if you can enter the conversation. If the shoulders are square to each other, that's a sign of a closed group however, if they are at an angle then it’s an invention to join them. The direction that feet are facing is a common tell where the person wants to go. When you find a gap, ask if you can join the conversation.
5. Workplace communication

While some personalities occasionally clash, developing the skills to handle such situations is key for building a successful career. Great tax professionals:
  • Prioritise interpersonal communication 
  • Are positive 
  • Are good listeners 
  • Are reliable
Create a positive work attitude, built on effective skills and reliability, and you’ll be the ‘go-to’ professional in your office.

Want to know what else top tax professionals share? Add the finishing touches to your career in tax with the prestigious Chartered Tax Adviser accreditation.

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