What do recruiters in accounting look for in a job candidate?



Accounting is a highly technical field that requires candidates to possess a combination of technical expertise, industry knowledge, and soft skills. In addition, accounting firms are increasingly seeking candidates with a diverse set of qualities, including leadership potential, multilingual abilities, entrepreneurial mindset, and networking skills.

"At our firm, we look for candidates who have a passion for the field of accounting and a desire to continuously learn and grow,” notes Jeff Wright, managing partner at Draffin Tucker, an accounting firm offering a full range of professional accounting services with offices in both Atlanta and Albany, Georgia. “We seek individuals who are not only technically proficient, but also possess strong critical thinking and problem-solving skills, as well as excellent communication abilities. In addition, we value candidates who demonstrate professionalism, attention to detail, and a commitment to delivering high-quality work. Ultimately, we believe that the most successful candidates are those who are able to balance their technical expertise with a range of other qualities that can help them stand out in a competitive job market."

In this article, we will explore in more detail what recruiters in accounting look for in job candidates, including education and certification, relevant work experience, technical skills, soft skills, industry knowledge, professionalism, and other desirable qualities.


A strong educational background is often the first thing that recruiters in accounting look for in a job candidate. This typically includes a bachelor's degree in accounting or a related field such as finance or business administration. A master's degree in accounting, finance, or a related field may also be desirable, particularly for candidates seeking higher-level positions.

CPA License

In addition to a strong academic background, many recruiters in accounting also look for candidates who have obtained a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license. To reach that goal in Georgia you must earn a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited school or university, completing at least 150 semester hours of college education which includes a concentration in accounting.

Candidates must then pass the Uniform CPA Examination, which is a comprehensive four-part exam administered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). It requires a comprehensive understanding of accounting principles, auditing procedures, business concepts, and tax regulations and is designed to assess a candidate's knowledge and application of these topics at a professional level. Preparation courses and review materials are available from various providers, including Becker, Wiley CPAexcel, Roger CPA Review, Surgent CPA Review, and Gleim CPA Review.

The next step in becoming a CPA is to gain relevant work experience under the supervision of a licensed CPA. In Georgia, you need to complete at least one year (2,000 hours) of experience in public accounting, government, industry, or academia.

Licensure as a CPA is highly valued in the industry and demonstrates a candidate's knowledge and expertise in accounting principles and practice by signifying that you have met the necessary qualifications to provide professional accounting services to the public. Once you have successfully obtained your CPA license, you will need to comply with ongoing continuing education requirements to maintain your license and remain competent on accounting and professional standards.

Relevant Work Experience

Recruiters in accounting typically seek candidates who have relevant work experience in the field. This may include internships, co-op positions, or previous employment in accounting roles. Candidates with experience in areas such as financial analysis, tax preparation, auditing, and financial reporting are particularly sought after.

For entry-level positions, candidates with little or no work experience may be considered if they have completed relevant coursework or have demonstrated a strong interest in accounting through extracurricular activities or volunteer work.

Technical Skills

Technical skills are an essential requirement for any job in accounting. Recruiters expect candidates to have a strong understanding of accounting principles and practices, including financial reporting, auditing, tax preparation, and financial analysis.

In addition to basic accounting skills, recruiters also seek candidates who are proficient in using accounting software such as QuickBooks, Xero, or Sage, as well as proficiency in using spreadsheet software such as Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. Knowledge of other relevant technologies such as data analysis software, enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, or business intelligence (BI) tools may also be desirable, depending on the specific job requirements. Technology proficiency is becoming increasingly important in the accounting industry, as more firms seek to automate routine accounting tasks and streamline their operations.

Soft Skills

While technical skills are essential, recruiters in accounting also look for candidates who possess strong soft skills. These are non-technical skills that help individuals to work effectively in a team, communicate well with others, and solve problems in a collaborative manner.

Examples of soft skills that recruiters look for in accounting candidates include communication skills, teamwork, attention to detail, time management, and problem-solving abilities. Strong analytical and critical thinking skills are also highly valued, as well as the ability to adapt to changing business needs.

Industry Knowledge

Depending on the specific role and industry, recruiters in accounting may seek candidates who have knowledge and experience in a particular industry or sector. For example, candidates with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, or financial services may be sought after for accounting positions in those industries.

Industry-specific knowledge can be gained through work experience, internships, or coursework in relevant areas. Candidates who demonstrate a strong interest and understanding of the industry they wish to work in are more likely to be successful in their job search.


Professionalism is a critical attribute that recruiters in accounting look for in job candidates. This includes attributes such as punctuality, integrity, strong work ethic, and a commitment to high-quality work.

Candidates who demonstrate a strong sense of professionalism are more likely to be successful in the accounting industry, which places a high value on ethical behavior, confidentiality, and attention to detail. Professionalism is particularly important for candidates seeking higher-level positions, where they may be required to interact with clients, senior management, or other stakeholders.

In addition to these core attributes, recruiters in accounting also look for candidates who possess other qualities that can contribute to their success in the field. These may include:

Leadership potential

Candidates who demonstrate leadership potential are often highly sought after, particularly for higher-level positions. This may include the ability to manage teams, communicate effectively, and make strategic decisions.

Multilingual abilities

In today's global business environment, candidates who speak multiple languages may have an advantage over those who only speak one language. This is particularly true for candidates seeking positions with international firms or those that work with clients from diverse cultural backgrounds.

Entrepreneurial mindset

Recruiters in accounting may also seek candidates who have an entrepreneurial mindset. This may include the ability to think creatively, take calculated risks, and identify new opportunities for growth and innovation.

Networking skills

Finally, recruiters in accounting look for candidates who have strong networking skills. This includes the ability to build relationships with clients, colleagues, and other industry professionals, as well as the ability to stay up to date on industry trends and best practices.

In conclusion, recruiters in accounting look for a combination of technical expertise, soft skills, industry knowledge, and professionalism when evaluating job candidates. While a strong academic background and relevant work experience are important, candidates who possess other qualities such as leadership potential, multilingual abilities, entrepreneurial mindset, and networking skills are also highly valued in the industry. By demonstrating these qualities, candidates can improve their chances of landing a job in the accounting field and building a successful career.