Congratulations! You’ve made the decision to join the accounting profession.
Whether you are just getting started or have a few years of experience under your belt, here are four points to consider so that you can take control of your career now and ensure you lay the foundation for a successful future.
1. Know your options
Accounting offers many engaging career paths. Recruiters see them all. A few broad areas you will need to consider:
- The various accounting career fields. Public, Tax, Financial, Forensic, Managerial, Government, Corporate – each have their own unique skill set and benefits.
- Your educational path. What level of education do you have (or are you prepared to pursue)?
- Sitting for the CPA. Getting your CPA requires a lot of investment and is not necessary for many accounting jobs. Still, having your CPA opens up a lot of opportunities.
- Type of company you want to work for. Recruiters can be particularly helpful to you here. Do you want to serve a number of clients? Do you want to be on a team in a private organization? Large company? Small company (where you can wear many hats)?
- Type of environment you will thrive in. Consider whether you like a more steady pace, like managerial accounting, or something with intense busy periods, like tax accounting. Also – consider what types of co-workers you want to be around all day!
2. Network, network, network
People hire people.
Few people are natural networkers. That said, next to education, nothing has a greater ROI than networking. Your network will provide you career opportunities, more knowledge, and access to bigger and bigger networks. Plus, learning to network is a great character-building skill. Consider these areas, with the goal of making two connections each week:
- Your LinkedIn profile. Connect with people on LinkedIn after you have met them – or reach out to new people and second-level connections. Bonus: learn how to send quick video messages for that personal touch.
- Your alumni network. This group is the most receptive to connections from fellow alums. Connect away!
- Professional organizations. When you are just starting out, the key to making connections is to ask good, genuine questions of more senior people. People love to give advice. Get good at asking questions – and then connect!
Keep in mind too that a recruiter is a super networker, with connections to hundreds (if not thousands) of key industry professionals.
3. Manage your mindset
Studies have shown that our minds have a plasticity that allows them to adapt and grow throughout our lives. Which of these mindsets do you fit into?
- Fixed mindset: You believe your abilities and intelligence are static, so you need to prove yourself over and over. You tend to avoid challenges, give up easily, and ignore useful, constructive feedback.
- Growth mindset: You believe you have the ability to learn and grow through effort and practice because you embrace challenges, stay persistent in the face of setbacks, and welcome constructive feedback.
The Growth Mindset is not only a more accurate model; it also leads to the most success in one’s career. Additionally, when you are just starting out, remember:
- Pay your dues. Do the tough work. Be hungry. What you lack in experience you must make up for with enthusiasm and energy. Be that spark of positivity and energy in the workplace.
- Be a pro. Produce the best quality work you are capable of. Welcome criticism. Find a mentor who will give you honest feedback and help you develop the soft skills necessary to grow your career.
4. Prepare for Change
If the pandemic taught us anything, it is that the only constant is change. Whether you are more deliberate or opportunistic in your approach to your career, understanding that your path may end up looking different than you expected is important. Our tips:
- Learn how to learn. Maybe you are done with school – great. But your learning is just beginning. You must create your own personal structure for continuous learning. Set up newsfeeds. Allot 20-40 minutes for reading each day. Learn about your company and industry; deepen your technical skills. Learn, learn, learn – constantly and proactively.
- Reflect on what you’ve learned. A journal is a powerful tool. Create an online career journal. Feed it with things you learned, mistakes you’ve made (and see others make) and how to correct them. Add “what-if” ideas. Let your brain roam free. In just a few years, you’ll be amazed at how far you’ve come.
- Keep going. Life will challenge you no matter how well you prepare. Be humble. Show your gratitude. Adjust. Be a good model. Keep going.
We’re here to help!
If you would like to have a conversation about any of the areas listed above, an experienced recruiter can help. Really, call us. It’s to your advantage to have a relationship with a recruiter.
The team at Accountants One focuses on creating long-term relationships. We personally enjoy getting to know you, your preferences, and your career goals. After a thorough interview, we strive to match you to an organization that fits what you are looking for, both technical and cultural fit. You can count on us to assist you in finding a role where you can grow and flourish!