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You say you're different, but why are you so special? How to differentiate yourself in the tax search market

Posted by Eytan Ishai on 13 December 2017
You say you're different, but why are you so special? How to differentiate yourself in the tax search market

You're an up-and-coming tax professional looking for a new position that meets your lofty standards.

After all, you're an international tax law wiz, are a master of compliance, who drastically reduced your last company's effective tax rate, and possess a wealth of IT knowledge, just because you're so well-rounded.

Tax departments from across the continent should be queueing for your services once they learn you're in the tax job market, right?

Think again. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of qualified, experienced, and hungry tax professionals boast the same credentials you do - never mind the others that surpass you.

To get into the top tax departments, you need to differentiate yourself from the tax directors, senior tax analysts, compliance specialists, and the hundreds of others gunning for the same position. Here's how you can catch the eye of prospective employers.

Strong Soft Skills.

Like we alluded to earlier, no matter how impressive your hard skills in taxation may be, there's another hundred or so tax professionals with similar resumes. That's not to say varied hard skills aren't important - they're fundamental to the job, so you must possess them. Diversity in portfolio, or experience in a niche marketplace - say international taxation, transfer pricing knowledge, or M&A activity, to name a few - can be powerful differentiators, too.

But when a tax department is looking for that ideal fit and are juggling between similar candidates, hard skills usually cancel each other out.

So consider differentiating yourself with strong soft skills. Communication skills, teamwork and collaboration, adaptability, problem solving, critical thinking, conflict resolution - these are all crucial proficiencies needed in any successful tax department. And despite being difficult to quantify, these valuable soft skills will play a part in meeting the department's goals.

It's in the nitty-gritty - like minimizing the company's cash tax or maximizing tax savings - that these differences will be seen, ultimately separating you from your tax peers.

Show & Tell.

Great leaders don't see themselves as leaders - they're difference makers. To a true 'glue guy', the role never comes before the goal.

If there's one trait any tax department covets, it's the ability to lead and manage. A person that knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way. Managing people goes hand-in-hand with soft skills; the ability to inspire confidence reflects in the department's work.

Managing skills extend to project management, too. The ability to oversee a project from conception to completion is telling to tax departments; it displays organization, attention to detail, risk management, teamwork, and other qualities that can be gleaned from your leadership.

How It Comes Together.

Now that you've reinforced your valuable soft skills and quality management & leadership talents, the final step is bringing it all together. Or, how you consciously couple your refined hard skills with your flexible soft ones will determine if you're really a tax superstar, or your average, job-board-spamming, steady Eddy.

For example, how has the harmony between your soft & hard skills solved a problem, and how did you go about solving it? How have you created value at your last tax job? What did you create that wasn't there before?

Knowing how your skills complement one another to create value for the tax department is essential in showcasing yourself as a competent, well-rounded, asset to the company. And if you do it right, that'll lift you above all the other prospective tax professionals who are narrow-mindedly fixated on who they are, rather than who they can be.


Foxwood Tax Search is unique from your average search firm - we recognize the value of highly-specialized searches, using our Unique Process and consultative approach to find a perfect match for both client & candidate.

We target the top tax minds in the continent for our select clientele, comprising the largest tax departments in Canada and the United States. For high-end tax talent of every level - Chief Tax Officers, VPs of Tax, Senior Tax Analysts, Tax Directors, and more - contact us today!

Author: Eytan Ishai
Tags: Tax Professionals

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