Careers are for the long term. With the age at which we are likely to retire always increasing, we may well have several careers over our working life.
For those in accountancy and other professions there are lots of opportunities to climb the career ladder. Once professionally qualified, it can feel like the world is your oyster. Of course a professional qualification is an important stepping stone and springboard.
At the same time it is vital that you take control of your career. Part of that is making the right career moves at the right time. This is easy to say but is not always easy to achieve in practice.
The first step is to get some clarity about what you want from your career. A simple question to answer you might think. Not a question that many give a great deal of thought to in my experience. If you are like most you probably fell into a career.
It’s important to remember that different things will matter at different stages in your career. Therefore rather than seeing this as being something you do once and forget about, make a point of re-evaluating periodically.
An important consideration is how senior you want to be. The reason is that the career plan and choices will be very different for those who want to get to the most senior level. There is an expectation rightly or wrongly that you will have achieved certain milestones by a certain point. Some refer this to being on the fast track.
Get clarity about the type of work you like doing. Take accountants as an example. Some thrive being in the background doing the numbers. Others are only really satisfied if they are at the heart of the organisation and involved in key decisions.
Make choices that are going to add something in terms of your how marketable you are. If you are good at something and get a lot of positive feedback it can be tempting to do more of the same. While there will always be some elements of routine in every job, you want to be expanding your skills, attributes and experience.
Never move when in the wrong frame of mind. Maybe you have been overlooked for a promotion. Perhaps you wanted a secondment which was not agreed. The temptation is to jump ship in haste only to regret it later.
Never make job moves purely on financial grounds. A great salary might well be enticing. However, if it ends up being to a dead end job or a toxic environment it can be a really bad longer term move, even if great short term.
Do your due diligence before saying yes. It has never been easier to research organisations and people through resources like Google and LinkedIn. If after all of your research it does not feel right, be willing to turn down an opportunity and wait for the right next move.
Learn about different employers in your sector. Focus on things like culture, their attitudes to development and track record of developing and promoting people.
Utilise your network. An introduction to a potential employer from someone who is already known to that employer puts you in a really strong position.
The Bottom Line: Achieving success in your career is never guaranteed. At the same time making the right moves can really make a difference.
Duncan Brodie helps accountants achieve more career success. He invites you to sign up for his free report The 7 Biggest Barriers To A Successful Career In Accountancy
Since 2006 I’ve worked with in excess of 6,000 accountants and professionals in workshops, seminars and one to one helping them land their next jobs and become better leaders, presenters and business partners. Before that I spent 25 years in accountancy climbing the career ladder from Payments Clerk to FD. I’m a CIMA Fellow, Certified Professional Coach and Team Coach Facilitator.