Survey: Learning Beats Burning The Midnight Oil

Poll Reveals Top Attributes for Professional Success: Desire for Knowledge, Interpersonal Skills and Flexibility

MENLO PARK, Calif., July 19, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- What does it take to achieve an illustrious career? According to a new survey by staffing firm Accountemps, 30 percent of CFOs polled said motivation to learn new skills is necessary to get ahead. This was followed by interpersonal skills (27 percent) and ability to adapt easily to change (24 percent). These results vary slightly from a 2002 study in which CFOs said embracing change is most critical for professional advancement.

A new survey by Accountemps found 30 percent of CFOs polled said motivation to learn new skills is necessary to get ahead, followed by interpersonal skills (27 percent) and ability to adapt easily to change (24 percent).


View an infographic of the survey findings.

"Successful people never stop learning," said Bill Driscoll, a district president for Accountemps. "The world is changing quickly and constantly, and it's vital to stay informed of the latest trends and sought-after skills in your industry."

Driscoll added there's a growing need for finance and accounting professionals who are strong communicators. "The ability to convey complex information clearly and succinctly can lead to advancement opportunities."

Employees would be glad to know that only seven percent of CFOs cited working long hours as a success strategy.   

Driscoll noted, "Putting in extra time at work doesn't necessarily lead to positive outcomes. Managers can help reinforce reasonable work hours by prioritizing projects, assigning realistic deadlines, bringing in temporary support and setting a good example themselves."  

CFOs were asked, "Which one of the following characteristics do you consider most necessary for an employee to succeed?" Their responses:



Motivated to learn new skills



Strong interpersonal skills



Adapts easily to change



Welcomes increased responsibility



Willing to work long hours



Don't know/no answer





*Responses do not equal 100 percent due to rounding.

Accountemps offers five tips for career advancement:

  1. Join industry associations. Often, these groups offer training courses and seminars to help you acquire new skills and keep informed of trends affecting your industry or profession.
  2. Volunteer your expertise. Nonprofits can benefit from your guidance, and you may be given opportunities to grow and learn in return. 
  3. Further your education. An advanced degree or certification in your industry demonstrates your desire to learn and reinforces your expertise in your field.
  4. Perfect your communication skills. Pay attention to details when you communicate. Observe your body language, make eye contact, listen fully to what the other person has to say and rehearse before communicating to important audiences. Professional organizations like Toastmasters provide myriad resources to improve your public speaking skills.
  5. Think about the big picture. The most effective leaders always keep long-term plans in mind. Adopting a similar mindset can help you make more strategic decisions and better position yourself for a promotion.

About the Research
The survey was conducted by an independent research firm. It includes responses from more than 2,200 CFOs from a stratified random sample of companies in more than 20 of the largest U.S. metropolitan areas.

About Accountemps
Accountemps, a Robert Half company, is the world's first and largest specialized staffing service for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. The staffing firm has more than 325 offices worldwide. More resources, including job search services and the company's blog, can be found at

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SOURCE Accountemps

For further information: Shilpa Ahuja, 925.913.2796,

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