14 things talented accountants do to get promoted

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How is your career growth? Are you moving up as you should be? Do you often find yourself asking “How can I get ahead in my career?”

If you do, take a look at what the most successful accountants are doing. What do they do that separates them from the rest? What strengths do they have and what skills did they learn to get promoted over their peers?

To save you doing all of the hard work, we’ve compiled a list of the top 14 things the most successful and highly-talented accountants do to get ahead in their careers.

How to achieve career growth

Career growth does not happen overnight. Therefore, it requires patience and a lot of work. So here are the 14 things that top accountants do to achieve career growth and get promoted.

Take time to plan

You don’t see highly-talented accountants winging it hoping to get promoted. They don’t wait around for it to happen either. These successful professionals know what they want and they outline a strategy to get there. Put simply, they plan their goals and then take action every day to move them closer to where they want to be.

Ask for feedback

Informal or formal feedback is a great way to help you understand your strengths and weaknesses. These proactive accountants know this. They don't only ask for and listen to the feedback, they also use it to improve and leverage their strengths. These efforts don’t go unnoticed and often result in promotions. 

Able to change and adapt

Career growth requires flexibility. Many of the most successful accountants tend to have transferable skills. Why? Because this prepares them for various roles and functions, career growth, new leadership styles and changes in the job situation. Being flexible and able to quickly adapt to new scenarios, especially under pressure or stress, is a key skill to guarantee their long-term success.

Gain horizontal experience

Many accountants that have been promoted over their peers have experience working in multiple departments within the firm. By simply volunteering to help out on projects that are not in their department, they get so many benefits. e.g. a cross-firm project or secondment for a client. They have gained a diverse range of skills, a strong network and a greater understanding of how the firm operates. All these are things that got them noticed by their partners. 

Work hard and smart

How can you achieve career growth when you don’t have the time? Make time. The accountants that get promoted ahead of their peers work both effectively and efficiently. They know what they need to do to be as productive as possible. For this reason, they are able to strategise and prioritise to save valuable time.

Learn for now and the future

Many professionals are willing to learn new skills to help them progress but it is the ones that also learn about what they’ll need in the future that get the promotions. Accountants that get ahead read up on industry news daily. They are aware of relevant events, changes, and trends, and they acquire the necessary skills that they’ll need to succeed in the future. 

Network, network, network

The saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” exists for a reason. To get ahead in your career, you need to be networking both in and out of work. The most successful professionals are doing and it works. From having lunch with coworkers in different departments at your firm to casually discussing work with acquaintances at your extracurricular class, these things work.

Always open to new opportunities

If you want to get ahead in your career, don’t close yourself off. A lot of the time, accountants who get promoted over their peers have got it because they were open to the new opportunity in the first place. Even if you’re not looking for a new job, it never hurts to keep your eyes and ears open. Sometimes, even when they don’t look like it, some opportunities can help you get to where you want to be. 

Have a consulting mindset

Acting like a consultant is a common trait among the most successful accountants and what we mean by this is that they are always looking for ways to prove their worth. Instead of asking to help on a project or inquiring about a promotion, they proactively present their case; they say “this is how I can add more value” and most of the time, they get the result that they wanted.

Participate in their institute’s events

Another way accountants become so well-rounded when it comes to knowledge - a desirable when it comes to promotions - is that they participate in their institute’s events, in particular, the networking groups set up for young professionals. This helps them get ahead in their careers through networking and keeping up-to-date with the trends in their field. 

Active on social media networks

If you build an online brand for yourself using social sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter, you can really position yourself as an expert in your field. By simply making connections, sharing your knowledge of the field and engaging with users, you can make your own opportunities by getting yourself noticed. 

Find a mentor

If you’re thinking “how do I get ahead in my career by myself?” you don’t have to do it alone. In fact, the most successful accountants don’t. They have a mentor. If you want to get promoted over your peers, seek the advice and support of a mentor. An outsider’s perspective and knowledge can really help you reach your highest potential.

Surround themselves with the right people

Just like having a mentor, highly-talented accountants tend to surround themselves with the right people. They have a strong network of other ambitious and intelligent people who help build them up, hold them accountable, and drive them to do great work. 

Proactive with their career progression

Last but not least, when looking at the most successful accountants, it is clear that the most important factor that allows them to get head is that they are so proactive. Unlike their peers who don’t get promoted, they have a clear goal in mind, they strategise, and they make efforts to learn and network and to build a brand that gets them noticed.

Become an expert in your field

Next time you find yourself asking “how can I get ahead in my career?” look at others around you as well as at yourself. What are they doing that is leading to promotions and what are you not doing that you should be doing? Chances are, the answers to both these questions are the 14 things on this list!

"This article was originally published on the How To Make Partner Website"

About Heather Townsend

Heather Townsend is Founder and Author of ‘The Accountants Millionaires’ Club’. In 2015 the ICAEW decided she was the number one online influencer for the accountancy profession. She is the author of 5 books, including The Go-To Expert, and ‘How to make partner and still have a life’ (co-authored with Jo Larbie).

Heather is always up for a challenge. Perhaps that is why she has built a track record of helping accountants grow the size of their practice by 50-200%, often in under two years. Often helping them make partner or equity partner in the process.

Heather is a high profile member of the accountancy profession in the UK. She has worked with over 300 partners, coached, trained and mentored over 2000 professionals at every level of the UK’s most ambitious professional practices. Heather's clients have included: 7 out of the Top 10 UK practices, including all the Big 4 firms. 

This is what members say about the Accountants Millionaires' club.

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12th Aug 2019 11:48

What about sucking up to your boss (or at least not arguing with them)?

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