In today’s competitive marketplace employers seek and retain professionals who stand out from the crowd. At the forefront of executive recruitment is the notion that an ideal candidate will supersede the expectations of a standardized job description, going above and beyond a bulleted list of tasks. With my Big Four background and experience in working with professionals from diverse industries, I understand the importance of setting oneself apart from the competition, and today I put that knowledge to work as an Accounting and Finance executive recruiter.
In a two-part series, I will share 10 professional development tips for gaining a competitive edge in Accounting and Finance.
Pursue Education and Certifications – Questions regarding education and certifications are critical when considering a career in accounting and/or finance. The career track you choose is hinged heavily on the course of education you pursue and the certifications you obtain, so it is important to have a blueprint when outlining your career goals. For example, if you aspire to sit for the CPA exam, most states require candidates to have 150 semester hours of education, almost the equivalent of a master’s degree. In fact, it has been shown that students who obtain a graduate education have a substantially higher rate of success on the Uniform CPA Examination. Think about where you want to be in 5, 10 and 20 years. Then work backwards in your career planning, and identify the courses and certifications that can help get you there.
Ensure Consistent Career Progress – Today’s employees are encouraged to be upwardly mobile and to seek continued elevation in professional and economic status. To advance in your career, ensure that you do not become stagnant in the same role for more than several years. Seek opportunities within your industry and take initiative to extend professional growth.
Develop Skills Across the Organization Structure – Be open to working sideways while working up. While securing a path of upward growth may not be feasible at your current firm or company, try seeking roles within different departments. Lateral movement through the organization will allow you to gain a broader perspective and garner experience across diverse areas of expertise.
Become a Knowledge Expert – Establishing yourself as an industry leader augments your credibility, and becoming known as the “go-to” person can be pivotal to your success. Gaining the requisite knowledge to be regarded as a thought-leader requires a thirst for learning and the commitment to continually sharing your expertise with peers.
Build a Personal Brand – To build your career, build your brand. Recognizing your unique abilities, your career goals and aspirations, and then intentionally influencing how you are perceived can yield dramatic, positive results. Branding allows you to differentiate yourself from the competition. Your presence on social media platforms should mimic your professionalism offline. A well-written online profile can uniquely influence how others perceive you in the business community. As a job seeker, establishing and nurturing an authentic brand will help you stand out and get hired.
Defining your career goals and outlining a path of consistent growth are fundamental steps to building a powerful personal brand that will set you apart in the industry.
In my next post, I’ll discuss how involvement, both at work and in the community, will serve to influence your career progression.