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What Today’s Accounting Executives Wish They Knew at the Start of Their Careers

What Today’s Accounting Executives Wish They Knew at the Start of Their Careers

by Geoff Balmer

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As the saying goes; hindsight is a wonderful thing. Most of us can look back on our careers and say that there are things that we would have done differently if we had known better.

Luckily there are plenty of highly successful Senior Accounting Executives who are prepared to share their wisdom so that others can hopefully learn to avoid the same mistakes. Below is some of the best advice we’ve heard, for both experienced Accountants and people in the early stages of their career.

Don’t Want Tomorrow Today

Every so often we’ll talk to candidates with impressive wit and acumen who are eager to move into a Management position as early as possible in their career. While that enthusiasm can give you an advantage throughout your career, it’s rare that things tend to work out so well, so quickly. One of the most common comments we hear is about paying your dues, and the many benefits to doing this. Running before you can walk is one of the main ways people sabotage their careers, as the stress of taking on a role that is or becomes overwhelming can often end up setting you back more than it helps you to develop. However, if you are presented with a chance to take on more responsibility or work on an important project, don’t feel like you haven’t earned it or you aren’t ready. In this scenario, keep in mind that someone else has seen your potential to succeed and that the worst, or possibly the best thing that can happen is that you learn from the experience. All in all, that’s not as bad as regretting not taking the chance in the first place.

Money Isn’t Everything

The same goes when making remuneration the primary focus of your job search. The appeal is easy to understand; we all want to live comfortably and getting a higher paying Accounting position is one of the best ways to achieve that. Having said that, although a particular opportunity may be financially tempting, one of the most frequent comments we receive is that these moves often don’t work out as planned. With the benefit of hindsight, most advise that it is just as important to consider the role holistically by understanding the company, the position itself and the career opportunities alongside the financial aspect.

Accept When It’s Not Working

Not being realistic about things when they aren’t working out and trying to convince yourself that everything is fine is definitely a red flag. Everyone has occasional bad days at work, but if you feel like you’re not learning, not getting the feedback you require, or dread going to work daily, then taking action to improve the situation should be your top priority. This isn’t necessarily an indictment on you or the employer; sometimes the two parties don’t gel with one another for whatever reason and trying to rectify the situation can be futile. We hear many examples where Accountants regretted staying in a role or company for longer than they should have. When they finally did move, they re-discovered the passion for their chosen profession that resulted in their career gathering momentum due to the renewed focus.

Don’t Call It Off at the First Sign of Trouble

If you have been dealing with these issues for an extended period of time, then it’s understandable to want to consider your options, but attempting to remedy the situation first is almost always a better approach. Most problems within organisations are caused by a lack of communication and are easier to solve than they appear in the heat of the moment. If, you are on the verge of ‘throwing your toys out of the pram’, take a step back as it’s probably not the best course of action in your current position or for your future. Many of the Executives we speak to say that the ability to display commitment in the face of adversity is a quality they look for in future leaders and by mastering this skill, it can help to propel your career to the next level. A key piece of advice that stuck with us is: “when confronted with failure, don’t let it change your long-term outlook. Instead, take it as a learning opportunity and adapt your approach to avoid the same problem next time.”

Ask For Advice When You Need It

We all need a little help sometimes and being able to acknowledge this fact is rare. After realising help is needed, the next big challenge is putting your hand up. Stubbornly thinking that nothing is awry is rarely a good strategy for success and can often stop people from reaching their potential. With the Accounting industry currently going through such a transformation – with digital disruption, automation and outsourcing continuing to be key topics for the profession – the necessity for greater human insight is increasing, as is the need to improve collaboration to reach better outcomes. No employer will expect you to know everything all the time, so be realistic about where your strengths are so you don’t end up out of your depth. Furthermore, having a business mentor is a great asset to help you elevate your career. Not only can they advise you on getting through challenging situations at work by providing insights from their own experience, but the contacts they’ve built up over their careers can help you to expand your own network and open up more opportunities.

Set Yourself Goals

One of the most common pieces of advice we hear is about setting goals for yourself. This is absolutely crucial and is one thing that most, if not all successful people have in common. By setting regular goals, you understand where you want to go, therefore making it easier for you to make decisions. Start by writing down your end goal and where you want to end up in your career (whether it’s short or long term). Outlining each step in reverse order from where you are now versus having a starting point, an end goal and a massive void in the middle, can make more sense when creating your personal pathway. If you’re unsure of what those steps might be, consult a mentor or a trusted third party who has a knowledge of the industry. We’re always happy to lend our expertise, so if you’re unsure of what your next career move should be, feel free to get in touch.

If you’ve picked up any career advice that you wish you’d have known earlier, comment below with your tips!

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