Top 12 Best tips to advance your accounting career
What is your business resolution for this new year? Do you want to boost your career prospects and your salary? Do you want to win your next promotion? Do you want to climb the corporate ladder to partner? If it’s yes to any or all of these questions, here are 12 tips for how to move up in accounting.
Fast-track your accounting career
1) Become a CPA
Gaining the CPA credential can give your accounting career a head start. Why? Because gaining one is an arduous process! Not only is this qualification widely recognised across the country, but it will also give you a clear advantage in both public accounting or the finance function of a large corporation. Once you have this, you can further differentiate to increase your value to potential employers or clients.
2) Improve your networking skills
It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. When thinking about how to move up in accounting, an extensive network of contacts can help massively! Making contacts as early on as possible means that you have multiple people to turn to for advice, ideas or guidance on business-related issues. It also means that you are likely to be at an advantage when you want to move firms as there are many hidden positions you may be the first to hear about.
3) Gain expertise in a variety of areas
One of the best ways to advance your accounting career this year is to gain experience in as many different areas as possible. If you do so, you will open so many doors for your long-term career prospects! While you may typically take part in traditional bookkeeping activities and the preparation of the financial statement, try to gain experience in areas that larger firms such as Big 4 firms want (e.g. reporting, auditing and taxation).
4) Focus on your soft skills
Technical competence is not enough to get you ahead in your career; to progress through the ranks, you need to hone and develop your soft skills. By soft skills, we are talking about any interpersonal skills that allow you to function effectively as a team member or as the leader of a group of employees. These are primarily communication, empathy, decision-making, time management, and conflict resolution.
5) Find a mentor
Having someone who you can turn to when your job is at a critical juncture can provide tremendous benefits, it doesn’t just have to be one person though. You could have a couple of people who are older and more experienced than you who have different strengths. Perhaps you need a mentor to help you with technical matters but another to offer advice and guidance on your career progression.
6) Keep up-to-date with technology
Learning how to move up in accounting doesn’t end with passing the CPA exam. In fact, most of the learning happens after. To advance up the career ladder, you need to remain updated on new technology developments that are relevant to your area of work. This, together with acquiring new skills and enhancing your existing expertise, will ensure you remain competitive.
7) Question your profession’s orthodoxies
If you want to know how to move up in accounting, sometimes not following the way things are usually done is the key. If you see any limitations to accounting or the way certain things are done, question them. Bring your own solution to the table and if it’s successful, your value will be rewarded.
8) Learn to think (and act) like an entrepreneur
Every accountant is in business for themselves, so if you can learn to think and act like an entrepreneur, you can greatly accelerate their career progression. The sooner you take responsibility for your own skills, growth, integrity, reputation, brand, service, and business development, the sooner you can start winning your own clients and wow them.
9) Manage your career
To move up in accounting, first know what you want and then manage your career to get there! Do not attempt to excel in a position you dislike, instead find a career and job position that fits your personality, skills, and passion. Advocate yourself and seek advice and guidance from the more experienced.
10) Ask for a promotion
Not many accountants think of asking for a promotion when they think about how to move up in accounting, but if you don’t ask, you don’t get. If, and only if, you have a great reputation, you do high-quality work, you have a strong brand, positive attitude, and your a team player and a role model employee should you ask for a promotion. You also have to be prepared to give examples of great work that’s contributed to the growth of the firm and show your progress too.
11) Understand your firm
A big part of career progression comes down to understanding how your firm generates profits as well as firm politics and the way things work. If you understand this, you can learn to master one or two key areas to demonstrate to your firm’s senior partners that you want to and can help grow the firm.
12) Don’t limit yourself
One of the best pieces of advice for 2020 is to not limit yourself. The limits on the value we can deliver are often self-imposed so learn to think differently. Open your mind and aim to learn as much as you can about the firm, the industry, the skills you need to develop, and your specific clients’ needs.
How to move up in accounting?
Whether your resolution this year is to boost your career prospects or progress along that partnership track, just remember that your job success isn’t determined by your technical knowledge alone. To advance in accounting, start making a conscious effort to manage your career starting with these top 12 tips to learn, develop, and grow in 2020.
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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...