Should I stay or should I go? When and how to make your next finance move
Simon Gray considers a recent Any Answers discussion on how to best make the move from a tax trainee in practice to industry.
Many accountants’ have grappled with the difficult decision between a career in practice or industry.
This age-old question reared again on Any Answers recently, as a tax trainee contemplated leaving their role in a practice firm for a career in industry. With five ACA exams and CIMA exemptions on offer, the tax trainee is all set to throw away life in practice for industry pastures.
But the only trouble is they’re struggling to find a junior accounting role due to their lack of experience with accounts.
The AccountingWEB readers weighed in and advised the reader not to walk out of a job without lining up a new one. But, how should they proceed? Stay longer in practice to show commitment, or make a move now to gain industry experience?
And then of course, how to make such a move? Who to talk to and what to say? How to make yourself more attractive to employers and whether to use recruiters or some other route to find that next position?
There are certainly quite a few questions here, and I’m going to offer some high-level advice in three parts.
When to move
In my experience, many people drift from job to job and make the next move on the career ladder without ever stopping to consider what they really want to do. As an executive career coach, I regularly work with clients in their fifties that have never asked themselves this question and find themselves where they are today not through any conscious planning.
My view is always: if you know what you want you should go for it. Don’t wait, don’t dither. Put all of your energy and effort to work, in pursuit of what you want, and your passion will shine through.
Passion is infectious and is far more valuable (particularly in the early stages of a career) than skills or experience. Knowing what you want, being able to communicate why you want it, and having a willingness to learn and develop are all that’s needed.
Making yourself attractive in the job market starts with knowing what you want.
The Law of Attraction (TLoA) is something you may or may not have heard of before, but trust me it works. In a nutshell TLoA says what you think about comes about. Being clear on what you want puts you in the right situations and in and around the right people who can help you.
When I was a recruiter the candidate who told me that they could do anything was very difficult to place. The candidate that was very specific in their requirement, in terms of role, sector and size of company, and geography, was much easier to place.
Because they knew what they wanted, I knew how to help them. Don’t be a generalist, don’t just be open to anything. Get focused, be specific and don’t compromise.
The majority of people are reactive in the job market. They produce a CV, send it out online and to a handful of recruiters, then sit and wait. This is what everyone else is doing, which makes it very difficult to stand out.
It’s not your skills and experience that will make you stand out (particularly if you’re in the early stages of your career). Your CV will look like everyone else’s, and CVs rarely get read in full anyway.
It’s not your CV you should be relying on or third parties who may or may not do something with it, it’s your approach that counts and that means getting proactive.
If you know what you want, and spend some time researching online, you’ll know pretty quickly which organisations in your geography you should be speaking to. Don’t wait for them to advertise, instead find a reason to get in touch that is much more than your need for a job.
Make your approach about them. What is it about their organisation that appeals? What have you seen, what have you read, and then, and only then – what value could you bring?
Businesses are always on the lookout for talent, and with the right approach you might just unlock the door to an opportunity yet to be advertised, or even create an opportunity that the business hadn’t previously anticipated they would be recruiting. At the very least, you’ll make yourself memorable when future opportunities crop up.
Don’t follow the crowd, take the lead. Be bold, brave and have fun in your approach.
The job you want is out there, but to find it you have to look in different places and be prepared to do different things to everyone else.
Simon Gray talks about all of the above in much more detail in his book Super Secrets of the Successful First-Time Jobseeker.