Advancement in technology is not only changing the business landscape; technological growth is also reshaping the job market. Though there may be fears around automation and technology’s impact on jobs, the truth is that the rise of technology is more likely to change jobs, not eliminate them. While these changes can feel intimidating, it’s essential to be aware of the changes taking place within each industry.
Accounts payable has long been centered around slow, manual processes, but that is quickly changing. As a job seeker, it’s important to be aware of how technologies like AP automation are shifting accounts payable positions from bookkeepers, for example, to more strategic roles and how you, as a professional can be better prepared.
Whether you recently lost your accounts payable job or are ready to move on to a new company or position, here are some key factors to take into account during on your AP job search journey:
Start with The Basics
Sometimes, a job search happens by choice. Sometimes, you don’t have an option. In either case, it’s essential to be prepared and here are a few fundamental ways job seekers from all industries can start:
- Create or update your LinkedIn profile – LinkedIn is a valuable social media tool for job searching. You can learn about and apply to new job opportunities, create a professional profile, and build an industry network.
- Hone your resume and cover letters – It’s important to have a well-written resume and compelling cover letter specifically tailored for each job. Since this is often your earliest written contact with a potential employer, creating a positive first impression is critical.
- Get references – Plan ahead and compile a list of references and some letters of recommendation, so you’re prepared when a prospective employer requests them.
- Research the job market – It pays to take the time to check out the job market before you start a job search. You can use free online salary calculators and explore job descriptions in the current market. This kind of research provides an opportunity to review the skills and experience employers are looking for in a candidate.
Understanding Changes in The World of AP
Positioned as the hub between procurement, purchasing, suppliers, employees, and finance, the account payable department is constantly balancing numbers while serving multiple constituents. Over the years, most AP departments have seen a steady decrease in resources, budget, and headcount. Forced to do more with less, many AP departments are addressing this challenge through the use of new technologies like AP automation.
As more companies adopt AP automation into their workflows, the need for manual clerical work and bookkeeping has reduced significantly. However, AP automation has increased both the demand and pay for highly skilled tech-savvy and analytic workers who can bring more strategy to their work.
Here’s a look at a few of the relevant skills and knowledge becoming a necessity for today’s accounts payable job seeker:
Many of today’s employers require more than the basic skills needed to operate Word and Excel. AP automation is changing the way accounts payable departments operate by turning a large part of the manual workflow process into a digital, automated system. Even if you’ve never used AP automation before, you’ll want to get an understanding of what the software does and how to use it. If you have used AP automation, bringing this experience to the forefront of your application process can become a huge advantage. Some companies may even look to a new employee to help implement AP automation tech tools in their department.
Automation empowers organizations to create a future where accounts payable employees are no longer a tactical, back-office function but a strategic and visionary part of the company. AP automation provides powerful data that, when used the right way, can help propel business growth. But this data first needs to be collected and analyzed within the AP department. Because of this, job titles are also changing from “clerk” and “bookkeeper” to positions such as “accounts payable specialist” and “AP data analyst.”
Enterprise Resource Planning
Experience with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems or the ability to learn quickly, has become increasingly important with the rise of AP automation. ERP is a business management software that allows an organization to automate many back-office functions related to technology, services, and human resources through integrated applications. ERP systems collect an organization’s shared transactional data from multiple sources, such as AP automation software, eliminate data duplication, and provide data integrity with a single source of truth. Bringing experience with ERP systems, or understanding of how ERP systems work, can be a huge benefit for anyone working in the accounts payable space.
The Growing Importance of Soft Skills
Research has shown that the need for basic data processing skills and manual labor will decline over the next decade. However, cognitive, social, and emotional skills will be in higher demand.
As technology increases in the workplace, skills such as problem-solving, teamwork, and strong leadership facilitate more human interaction. In fact, growing health and service-related jobs require skills that robots and automation can’t replace.
Teamwork is a skill that has become especially important in the AP workplace. Members of accounts payable teams have often operated in a siloed workflow. One automated platform can consolidate the workflows of the entire team, which opens staff up to jump between projects and tasks while working towards common goals. AP automation allows as many people as necessary to collaborate on any particular payable in real-time from anywhere!
Because everyone working on an automated platform has access to invoices, teams can simultaneously confirm or dispute charges, seek clarification, or explain discrepancies, all with just the click of a mouse or a tap on your phone. This makes customer service another extremely valuable skill as account payable team members work increasingly closer with vendors to quickly and accurately answer questions regarding a payment, or settle a dispute within cost or timeframe.
For those job seekers with relevant experience using AP automation and ERP systems, some companies may look to your guidance to help implement these same platforms. Bringing these strategic leadership skills to the table, you can position you as an instrumental asset in your company. AP automation also opens the door for people with strategic, growth-driven ideas to step up, share, and lead.
Good Luck in Your Search
To recap: technology and change is nothing to fear! Job seekers can move forward in their job search armed with the knowledge they need to stay on top of the changes in their field while laying the fundamental groundwork for any application process. Most importantly, adopting a growth mindset and being willing to learn any new software or applications will quickly propel you to the top and set you up for the greatest success.