At one or more times in our careers, many of us have paused to ask “How can I get ahead in my career?” Together with questions such as “What am I doing?” and “Where am I going?”.
If you do ask yourself these questions, perhaps it might be a good time to reflect on what your more successful and promoted peers might be doing that provides them with a more exalted position and the trappings that accompany it. How have they done it? What have they got that you haven’t?
Remember, a promotion, more often than not, just doesn’t happen. You have to put in the work and effort yourself. Others won’t do it for you. So here’s a list of some actions you can take to help get you on your way and up the career ladder.
The simple message is, don’t hang around! Start listing your goals and begin planning. Your peers aren’t hanging around waiting for something to happen. So if you know what you want, do something about it every day.
Work smart . . and hard
So, you feel you have no time for anything so no chance of growing your career. Wrong! Make time. Those accountants who achieve promotions are usually recognised for their productivity, efficiency and effectiveness through the ability to list their work priorities, save time and get more done. Copy them.
Be adaptable and able to change
To be successful you have to demonstrate flexibility and be able to transfer your existing skills as well as learn new ones. So, if things change, you can change with them. And get yourself noticed.
It’s all about the network
While not suggesting for one moment you become a slave to meetings and out-of-work events, get a network in place and begin networking. It can be as simple as abandoning that awful habit of having lunch at your desk and joining people from other departments at lunch. Join a social business network. Attend events. It may be a cliché, but bear in mind the number of huge deals sealed on the golf course are incalculable.
Consider new opportunities at all times
Never reject a new opportunity. Be open to anything, although ensure there is some relevancy. Even if you are currently happy and not really looking, keep your ear to the ground. You will be amazed at how an unexpected opportunity can help get you to where you really want to be.
Remember the Institute
You are more than likely a member of a professional institute. Use it! Attend their events, especially the networking ones. If offered a chance to speak at an event, grab it with both hands. Also, use your Institute to keep up to date with current accounting trends.
The feedback trail
Always ask for feedback, from not only your manager, but from your peers as well. What are you doing well, and what are you doing that needs improving? Ask, listen, act on and improve. And this can be either formal or informal.
Go for interdepartmental experience
You can gain extra valuable skills and be noticed if you offer your services to help out on projects (remember, if you haven’t the time, make the time) not necessarily connected with your core skill. It could be as major as something across the entire business (for example a large research and analysis project) or just giving up a little time to help an existing client.
Learn for now and ahead
Any professional, and not just in accountancy, should jump at the chance to learn new skills not only for the now, but also for the future. Make sure you subscribe to a relevant accountancy magazine and check the finance and money pages of the quality newspapers and websites. Knowledge is king.
Be a consultant in mind, if not in body
Don’t just help on projects, suggest ways of doing them. Present your case and follow through. Be first up to the white board to jot down the ideas. Lead the meeting. Show how much value you can add with little effort.
Become an expert and build your own personal brand on the likes of LinkedIn. Share your existing knowledge, make connections, offer advice, write authoritative comment pieces and get yourself noticed.
It’s no harm in seeking the advice of a mentor who has been in accounting far longer than you have. Meet, chat and discuss. It is even better if they are outside the business you work for, as the independent outlook from someone independent of your business can be advantageous.
Proactivity is the key
Don’t just sit around, be active. It won’t come to you. If you are both active and seen to be active, you’ll go far.
At Sewell Wallis, we are able to find you a role that encourages personal and professional development to ensure you are always working towards a promotion. For any insight and advice on what the accountancy market currently looks like, get in touch for a casual chat!