Rick Telberg
Rick Telberg

25 Magic Words for Career Success

Surprise: Hard work and knowledge aren’t Number 1. Neither is skills or knowledge. What are the top issues impacting CPAs this busy season? Join the survey; see the results.

February 18, 2010
by Rick Telberg/On Careers

Above all else, the essential ingredient for career success as a CPA is not what you might think.

It’s not knowledge or ability; although you can’t be a CPA without either. It’s not hard work or integrity. But you won’t go far without them. In one word: It’s about “clients.”

No single word comes up more often when you ask for career advice from today’s working professionals than the word “clients.”

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Even in private practice, the notion of delivering excellent service dominates. The CFO of a large Midwest manufacturer, for instance, calls it “people skills.”

Overall, a CPA Trendlines sampling of more than 500 accountants for the AICPA found that the word “client” or “clients” was mentioned more than any other, followed distantly by “skills,” “work,” “ability” and “knowledge.”

“Change,” “flexibility,” “willingness” and “adaptability” rank high as well. So too “focus,” “learn” and “education.”

If there’s any magic needed in surviving and advancing in today’s job market, these then are the magic words, in order of frequency mentioned:

“Essential” for Career Success: 
The Top 25 Words CPAs Use

  1. Clients
  2. Skills
  3. Work
  4. Ability
  5. Knowledge
  6. Service
  7. People
  8. Technology
  9. Business
  10. Communication
  11. Technical
  12. Tax
  13. Management
  14. Learn
  15. Willingness
  16. Adapt
  17. Change
  18. Marketing
  19. Flexibility
  20. Focus
  21. Current
  22. Integrity
  23. Quality
  24. Education
  25. Relationships

Source: CPA Trendlines for AICPA

Art Barrett in Lake Zurich, Ill., calls the essential ingredient “responsiveness to the client.”

Hard work is important, according to John Dehner in Harleysville, Pa. But the deciding factor may well be “good client relations.”

John Levy at Walnut Creek, Calif.-based Levy & Chambers sees the secret recipe as “understanding” your clients.

From Las Vegas, Nev., Jacquelyn Stephens reports in with: “Knowledge of current issues, communication skills and responsibility to clients” — the latter she defines as “making sure you do on a timely basis what you have told them you will do.”

I could go on. But you get the point. Now go find a client and do something good for them.

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Copyright © 2010 CPA Trendlines/BSG LLC. All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission. First published by the AICPA.

About Rick Telberg

Rick Telberg is editor at large/director of online content.

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Disclaimer: Any views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the AICPA or CPA2Biz. Official AICPA positions are determined through certain specific committee procedures, due process and deliberation.