In this highly-active job market, many accounting professionals are faced with a challenging question – are you on the right track to accelerate in your career?
While you can’t predict the future, you can control how you choose to manage your career. Getting insight early on and using business savvy in your decisions can set you apart and help your career in the long-run.
Whether you’re working towards a promotion or considering a new role outside of your current employer, it’s up to you to decide how active and deliberate you want to be in your decision-making.
Each choice you make is sure to impact the next one.
Currently, according to the recent Brilliant Q3 2018 Hiring Forecast, there are approximately 37 percent of companies in the Greater Chicago area with open accounting and finance positions.
So, as you probably know, accounting and finance professionals are in high demand – across all levels.
How can you put this information to use? Find out how in the 3 Long-term Adjustments to Accelerate Your Accounting Career I put together below.
1. Navigate Career Paths and Company Sizes
In the accounting and finance industry, a common belief is that the longer you work in a specific area, the more you limit yourself in other areas. In most cases, this is unavoidable because it’s important to gain proper experience. For example, if you’re on the Technical Accounting team – researching complex business events for a large company, and the VP of Finance approaches you for a highly-exposed role on the Finance team, it’s hard to turn down. The hidden caveat, however, is that getting back into the Technical Accounting space will be difficult. Similarly, if you obtain a great role as a Controller in a mid-size company with minimal complexity and spend a few years there, it will be difficult for you to transition into a larger public company’s accounting team. There will be other candidates with larger company experience that will inevitably be considered first.
I encourage professionals to understand as early on as possible which types of companies they’d like to build their careers in, whether it’s large-public, large-private or mid-size. It may also be helpful to consult with trusted recruiting professionals and those in your network to receive different perspectives.
2. Monitor and Leverage your Performance and Reputation
No matter the team, there’s always a go-to person to rely on when problems arise. Believe it or not, a strong accounting team has a handful of go-to leaders in their group. Some clients I work with even have an 18-month rotation within their accounting team – where all individuals will transition into a different role every 18 months. Through this program, many accounting teams have been able to retain its best talent and provide its employees with a variety of experiences. Individually, professionals admire this program because they get to wear an array of accounting hats – and become a go-to person.
What if your accounting team doesn’t have an 18-month rotation? Maybe your functional area may face technical difficulty and complexity but isn’t exposed to leadership. In this case, you must be able to monitor your own performance and development. I encourage all professionals to learn the depth of their division, which will help you understand the relevance of your work in relation to the company as a whole. For example, if you are in a training-ground only, you may want to consider transitioning into a more complex role, once you’ve mastered the basics. This mindset ensures growth and control over your career. Allow yourself to have insightful conversations with management in order to help you navigate and understand your team, and its political capital.
3. Network Consistently
Whether you are comfortable in your career or searching for a new opportunity, there’s always value in building your network. It’s uncommon to have trouble networking, and many only find themselves forging relationships when transitioning to other companies. However, networking can be a much broader concept, and I believe it’s important for accounting professionals to treat it as so.
One of the best ways to network is by comparing your perspective on standards or challenges with other professionals. Currently, companies are working through the implementation challenges of the new Accounting Standards Codification (ASC) 606 for Revenue Recognition, and ASC 842 for Lease Accounting. There are many peer groups and general gatherings that you can join in order to meet and connect with other professionals on relevant topics.
I encourage you to begin building your relationships with various individuals within your industry – now! When it comes time to transition out of your existing role, these relationships can be leveraged for additional perspective. Additionally, if the relationship is strong enough and others know you are due for a transition, you may even get a call from one of them offering you a role. I’ve found that the most successful professionals have assumed roles through strong professional relationships.
Do you have other tips for accelerating your accounting career? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your feedback.