Understanding new technology will help accountants get ahead in the digital age (Getty Images/Westend61)
Social media apps emerge faster than seasons change. Beyond connecting with friends and family, they have proven to be a powerful professional networking tool during the past year with mass isolation brought on by the pandemic.
“Networking has drastically changed in recent times,” says Michael French, regional vice-president at Robert Half Canada. “Twenty years ago, we thought, ‘OK, let’s go to a CPA [networking event] and shake hands.’ We say networking now, we head for a keyboard.”
Currently, the latest trend lighting up the social media world is audio-based apps. It’s been deemed by Forbes as the “Goldilocks medium” in this saturated space where text can be too impersonal and video too demanding.
“With audio chat social networking, it is more personal and to an extent, more emotional, as well. People can really express their views, their passion, their interests,” says Rafi Majeed, chief digital officer at BDO Canada. “Live conversation is much more powerful than just microblogging.”
Clubhouse, Sonar, Discord, Facebook’s CatchUp and Twitter’s Spaces are a few of the popular platforms that provide a different way for people to connect virtually through voice-based chat rooms and one-on-one discussions. The aim is for participants to gravitate towards conversations and connections based on interest, not job titles. Unlike traditional social media that allows a user time to carefully craft a message, audio chats offer opinions in soundbites and work similarly to a conference call.
French says this is part of the larger push to be more authentic when presenting yourself in a professional space, which is encouraged in job interviews, too. In addition, displaying digital and social media skills is also highly valued by employers. “Knowing how these apps work is only going to make you more in demand,” says French, pointing out that the additional skills attained using these new social apps also better positions users to land that next job.
For example, for an accounting position, he explains, hiring teams expect applicants to already possess the required skillset for the role. “So, what the employer is looking for now is: How do I see you driving my business? How do I see you collaborating across all the multiple stakeholders? And that’s not accounting, that comes down to how comfortable you are and being strong with technology, being strong presenting,” he says.
Majeed agrees, adding that today’s CPAs need to offer a multitude of skills that go beyond producing an effective excel spreadsheet. “If you really want to thrive in the digital era, you need to get on board with these kinds of technologies and apps,” he says. As a Clubhouse user, he’s seen finance and audit rooms starting to pop up on the invite-only app. But, for accountants to see the value in the new audio platforms, the influence, he points out, will have to come from the top.
“We need leaders or industry experts to set the example,” he says. “So, for example, if a senior tax partner or an audit partner from the Big Four or another large global firm were to host a room in Clubhouse, that could draw a large audience.” Clubhouse is also unique in that conversations are not recorded or transcribed. You must attend live or risk missing out as nothing is saved on the app.
To prepare CPAs for this new networking approach and to better position themselves on these audio-only apps, French suggests perfecting the elevator pitch. “You have to be very articulate. And, the more you practise that, the better you’re going to be,” he says. “It’s just one more skill in that job-search toolbox.”
FORGE YOUR PATH
Looking for more insights on career direction? CPA Canada has a wealth of resources for both industry professionals and practitioners, including those looking to open or sell their own practice. And, if you’re considering a move, make sure to read this first.
Also, make sure to keep up-to-date with CPA Canada’s strategic initiative to reshape the accounting profession by checking out Foresight: Reimagining the Profession.