Masterson Staffing Solutions

10 Traits & Skills Recruiters Are Looking for in Finance Professionals

July 24th, 2017 Written by: Molly Masterson

In today’s financial services job market, there is an increasingly large skill gap between what recruiters are looking for and what many candidates in the field offer. In fact, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), nearly three-quarters of financial services CEO’s report limited availability of skilled talent as a threat to business growth.

Whether you’re in accounting, mortgage lending, investments, or any other financial sector, recruiters will flock to you if you bridge the gap and exhibit coveted finance and technical skills. But what are they looking for?

With nearly 50 years of experience in recruitment for financial services firms, we know the skills that top employers look for in ideal finance candidates. To separate yourself from your competition and stand out to recruiters, you need a mix of both hard and soft skills.

Below we dive into 10 of the most attractive skills recruiters want in their top financial services professionals.

Hard Skills for Finance Professionals

1. Credible financial qualifications and certifications.

To have a successful career in finance, you need a relevant educational background as it signals to employers that you have taken appropriate courses and training. Degrees in Finance or Accounting, and certifications as a Certified Public Accountant or Certified Financial Planner, are good examples of the educational pieces employers are looking for.

Tip: Highlight your earned degrees and certifications early in your resume as this is often the first thing recruiters look for. For example, add your credentials to your name at the top of your resume. Some examples include:

  • Jane Smith, CPA
  • John Johnson, MBA
  • Kate Anderson, CFP

2. Financial reporting.

Financial reports need to be as detailed and accurate as possible to create budgets, conduct audits and issue stock. Employers want candidates they can trust to compile reports with careful precision. Having experience in composing financial reports and drawing valuable insights from the data shows employers that you can do just that. 

Tip: In the work experience section of your resume, use an example of when you used financial reporting to drive a positive business outcome in a past role. Keep your resume readable and action-oriented by starting with an active verb. For example, you might write:

  • Compile and analyze financial reports, identifying actionable data trends resulting in 20% growth for a client

3. IT software knowledge.

Seventy-three percent of financial services CEO’s report that the speed of technological change affected their ability to find skilled talent. Having a strong working knowledge of finance software and being able to adapt to technological changes will help you rise above the competition. The most attractive technical skills for finance professionals include expertise in software like Microsoft Excel, FIS Global, SAP, and other database management systems. The more you understand these systems and how they work, the more valuable you’ll be to employers. 

Tip: List the relevant software you have significant experience with in the skills section of your resume. Make your technical skills list a stand-out by avoiding common terms like proficient, skilled, and talented. Here’s an example of how to list your skills in an interesting way:

  • Bright financial software prodigy adept in: Microsoft Excel and Access, FIS Global, and QuickBooks

4. Management experience.

Even though it might not be a necessity, having management experience is very attractive to financial services firms. Employers want team members they can move into a leadership role down the road. 

Tip: Illustrate to employers how you have managed people in a past role. This doesn’t have to be from working in financial services, either. It can be from volunteering, an organization you’re a part of, or even a position you’ve held in another industry. To highlight this on your resume, include it in your past work experience. Two examples are:

  • Oversee and direct budgeting team in executing methods to increase our profit margins
  • Managed a large portfolio of investments for Fortune 500 companies


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Soft Skills for Finance Professionals

1. Problem-solving.

Having the knowledge necessary for a job doesn’t equip you for the unpredictable nature of the finance sector. Being able to adapt to change and confront complex problems head-on is what will define you as a knock-out candidate. 

Tip: Describe an example of when you encountered a problem in your past work experience and the steps you took to overcome it in your interview. Here’s an example:

  • At First Capital, we had a reporting discrepancy that was influencing several teams. I dug into our database and pinpointed the item causing the disruption. I corrected the issue right away, potentially saving a significant investment.

2. Leadership.

As previously mentioned, employers want candidates who can fill senior roles down the line. But they also want employees who can take charge of their workload and special projects with little oversight, mentor other employees and set an example in any role they possess.

Demonstrating leadership in past work or volunteer experiences proves to employers that you have what it takes to lead a team someday. Beyond leading others, examples of how you’ve led yourself through continuous learning or personal development is also desired. 

Tip: In addition to pointing out any past management experience, highlight specific examples of how you’ve taken the lead inside and outside of the workplace. For example, if you’ve taken continuing education classes to further your leadership skills, include that in the Education section of your resume.

In addition, consider adding a “Leadership Experience” section where you can share examples of special assignments you’ve taken on, teams you’ve led and leadership positions you’ve held. Some examples include:

  • Volunteered to spearhead a business development project, which helped grow our firm’s portfolio by 10% in the first 60 days
  • President of the Smith University Alumni Association
  • Treasurer for the local United Way Chapter

3. Flexible communication.

The most desired, yet uncommon finance professional skill is communication, according the Bloomberg Job Skills Report 2016. Candidates who can communicate the stories behind the numbers will separate themselves from the crowd. The ability to explain complex figures without jargon demonstrates to employers that you’ll communicate clearly with clients and other team members.

Tip: Include your verbal, written, and even visual communication skills in your resume by adding them to your work experience section. Here’s a sample line that you might include in your past work experience:

  • Sharpened my verbal, written, and visual communication skills by leading client meetings and conducting presentations

4. Professionalism.

Adhering to professional behavior helps emulate to clients and employers that you are a trustworthy and reliable person. This is especially important for the financial services sector, as you will be potentially trusted with a significant amount of money to manage. As representatives of the company, financial services firms need professional candidates to show clients they are credible and respectable.

That being said, it’s equally important to highlight your personality. Your personality is a major component for developing relationships with your colleagues and clients, and signaling that you’ll be a good cultural fit.

Tip: Strike a balance between showcasing your personality and exhibiting professionalism in your interview. Maintain a friendly yet formal tone and wear professional dress during your interview. In addition, look for opportunities to highlight your unique traits and characteristics in your interview answers and remember to smile.

5. Self-management.

In an industry that faces constant change and regulation, financial services firms want employees who hold their own ground. Being able to perform your duties reliably and with minimal supervision shows employers that you are capable of managing your time and objectives.

Tip: In your interview, share a story from your own work experience where you successfully managed your time to reach objectives. You might say something like:

  • I had a client request come up in the middle of an important project. By prioritizing my tasks and time, I was able to exceed the client’s expectations as well as the company’s.

6. Tech-savviness.

According to the PwC study, 80% of all financial services roles are affected by technology. Exhibiting the ability to adapt to technological changes and advances is a major bonus to financial services firms. More specifically, firms are looking for finance professionals with technical skills like a strong understanding of Structured Query Language (SQL), the language used to communicate to their databases.

Tip: Indicate your experience or knowledge level in SQL and other technologies by adding them into the skills section of your resume. Remember to use lively, colorful language to keep the recruiter’s attention. As an example:

  • Dynamite at SQL queries and reporting

In the Market for a Financial Services Position?

The above skills are important to possess for attracting financial services recruiters. Even if you don’t have all of the hard and soft finance professional skills listed above, there might be a recruiter out there whose priorities align perfectly with your unique skillset. Let Masterson Staffing help you find them. Get in touch with us today.

If you already nabbed a job interview, prepare for the hard-hitting questions with our post on commonly asked interview questions.

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