Hard Skills or Soft – What are Employers Looking For?


When it comes to pursuing an auditing position across any level, competition is steep and the calibre of talent is high. Knowing what employers are looking for, whether it is those hard skills or soft, will give you the edge to stand out against the growingly competitive talent pool.

In today’s environment the technical skills have become expected from auditors. Having them alone fails to leave a standing impression or distinguish one candidate against the opposition.  Employers demand well-rounded employees that tick all of their boxes.

At a basic level, hard skills are those technical skills that are learned. For auditors these are rigid and require ongoing attention. From the formal qualifications to the on the job training, these are the non-negotiable skills that auditors need to be employed.  Soft skills are those intrinsic, personal skills that defines how one interacts with others. Critical thinking, adaptability and communication skills make the top of the priority list for auditors.

Considered indispensable, critical thinking ranks in the top five desirable attributes by 64 percent of Chief Audit Executives (CAEs). With the quality of an auditor’s thought process impacting the quality of their work produced, it is understandable why this soft skill is ranked so highly. Complacent or thoughtless thinking can have detrimental and costly impacts to overall organisational performance. Despite technological advancements, complex thinking has yet to be impacted by AI or automation making it a highly sought-after skill.

Whilst automation has yet to impact the need for critical thinking, it has revolutionized an auditor’s manual processes. With this ongoing evolution brings the need for auditors to be adaptable in the face of change. AI will remove manual, data driven auditing processes. EY predicts many of an auditor’s traditional manual tasks will be overtaken by automation allowing auditors to work better and smarter on broader, deeper work. Adapting to these changes, both within the organisation and externally, will become an even larger aspect of an auditor’s role.

Communication skills have long been the top desired soft skills, however two-thirds of candidates admitted to lacking this skill during the interview process. “Auditors utilize communication skills in almost every situation they encounter” - whether verbal or nonverbal communication, auditors are constantly working with colleagues, senior management and clients.

These three skills need to be infused in a CV and showcased throughout the interview process. Simply stating them on paper without putting them on show for the interviewer will not be enough. When highlighted in conjunction with the hard skills, a candidate will undoubtedly leave a standing impression with employers and stand strongly against other candidates.

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