How to Write a Self-Assessment for Your Finance Job

Right up there with root canals and small dogs that won’t stop barking is the unparalleled joy that comes with writing a self-assessment for your finance job.  At first glance the task of writing a self-assessment seems daunting. What do you downplay? If you feel like you’ve hit several home runs, how much can you say without appearing self-congratulatory? It’s like an evaluation minefield. Interestingly, however, research has shown that we tend to be harder on ourselves than our bosses would ever be.

So with that in mind, we offer the following tips that should get you through your self-assessment with flying colours.

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Top Leadership Skills for New Finance Mangers

The CPA Competency Map is fascinating (ok fascinating might be bit of a stretch, but it is revealing). While technical skills such as finance and taxation are listed, so too are skills such as ethical behaviour and leadership. For new finance managers, who are just getting their leadership legs underneath them, guiding a team to greatness can be slightly overwhelming. Here’s a brief look at some of the top leadership skills that new finance managers can use to build trust, score quick wins and establish themselves as ready to lead.

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How to Make the Leap from Accountant to Financial Analyst

In football, players are often asked to take on a new role for the good of the team. Defensive backs become, gasp, full backs and in the odd case, a college quarterback becomes a receiver. Those who can adapt, succeed, while those who can’t flounder at the wayside. For those of you looking to transition from accountant to financial analyst there are a number of qualities senior leadership is looking for. So put on your helmet (we love a good sports analogy) and make sure you keep your hands in the car at all times (we also love to mix our metaphors). Here’s how to make the leap from accountant to all-star financial analyst.

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Accountants: You Need to be Able to Write it Right

Think back fondly to your grade 12 English class. Remember when you had to read Shakespeare? Poetry by Robert Frost? Or that riveting classic “The Stone Angel?” No?  Fair enough. Maybe you haven’t discovered your inner writer yet. But as an accountant, you need to. Yes, we said it.  Accountants need to be able to write well. And while you don’t have to be a Pulitzer Prize winning author, having some gift with the pen, (or the keyboard or, well, your phone– it is 2015 after all), can pay some dividends.

Here’s why writing skills matter if you’re an accountant.

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The Yeti and Other Myths (Including Some About Accountants)

The Yeti, or Sasquatch is actually a story originating from ancient Himalayan mythology (fun fact that you can use to impress your friends). Whether or not the Abominable Snowman actually exists is up for discussion in forums, coffee houses and random YouTube clips of guys in the woods running around in brown bear suits.  And like the Yeti, there are many myths about accountants – most of which we’re going to debunk today.

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Why You Still Need to Excel at Excel

No doubt about it, as a finance and accounting professional, you still need to excel at Excel. Even with end-to-end financial suites like SAP and Oracle, people still do financial analysis by extracting data from those back-end systems and entering it in to Excel spreadsheets. Excel is used in marketing, business development and of course, in finance.  So the big question is, what skills are relevant and why is Excel still a mainstay in the business world?

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What Do Home Renovations and Accounting Contractors Have in Common?

Do you remember the time that you decided to do your own home renovations? No, well good decision. If the answer is yes, then you might also recall that they took longer than you anticipated. Between delays on getting the right shower head in, to finding a dangling wire you didn't anticipate (surprise!), a two week project can suddenly turn into a three month affair.

The same can be said when assessing how long you’ll need your accounting contractor for. The answer – often longer than you think. Here’s why.

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Peaking in Your Accounting Interview

Great athletes plan their peak to coincide with a major competition. It takes discipline, focus and a whole lot of advance preparation.  And while you’re not going to increase your protein intake, or run three sets of stairs to get ready for your accounting interview, there are strategies you can employ to ensure that you cross the finish line first. A lot of it starts with understanding the Peak/End Rule.

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What Not to Say in a Finance Interview

You’re all dressed up in your best clothes.  You enter the interview room, offer a firm handshake and your best professional smile. You are, in other words, off to a fantastic start in your finance interview.

There’s only one problem.  You haven’t done a lot of company research.  After answering the first question, the feeling in the room becomes, well, awkward.

To avoid future missteps, here are some other phrases you might want to avoid saying.

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You Know You’re a Founder

Hiring Tips for Founders and Entrepreneurs
Jeff Foxworthy, an American comedian, offers some light-hearted observations on what makes a Canadian a Canadian.  Gems such as, “If you’ve worn shorts and a parka at the same time” or “If you can drive 90kms/hr through 2 feet of snow during a raging blizzard without flinching” strike a chord and make us all nod our heads in agreement. After all, who doesn’t look great in shorts and a parka?  In that same vein, we offer a few notes on how you might know you’re a founder of a company. We acknowledge, (with our tongues firmly in our cheeks), that as founders we wear more hats than Imelda Marcos has shoes.

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