How Mentors Help You Get the Best Accounting Jobs (Pt. 1)

When we interviewed several high-ranking finance executives, we found that they all identified a mentor as one of the main reasons they were successful today.  How can a mentor help you get a great accounting job?

First, identify a mentor – A good mentor has a willingness to share knowledge and expertise – it comes naturally to them and they do it in their everyday lives.  Ideally, he/she would have the same core values as you, have a positive attitude and act as a good role model. An excellent mentor is enthusiastic about their field, and is someone who is respected by his/her colleagues at all levels of the organization.

A good mentor has a willingness to share knowledge and expertise – it comes naturally to them and they do it in their everyday lives.

A mentor allows you to learn and grow – Mentors let you try something new and help you succeed. They give you the right advice at the right time. Most importantly, they help build your knowledge base and remove the fear of taking calculated risks at critical junctures in order to advance.

Most importantly, they help build your knowledge base and remove the fear of taking calculated risks.

Development track – Many of the finance executives indicated that their mentor guided them on the development track, so that when a new, higher level job appeared, they were ready to apply for it.  When their mentors changed companies, they took the future executive with them. It is common to hear from successful accounting and finance professionals that they spent the first part of their careers following their mentors around. Mentors will tell you that they do this to keep a trusted resource with them to help them succeed in their new engagement.

When their mentors changed companies, they took the future executive with them.

Offense/Defense:  Mentors advocate for you – Because of their strong collegial relationships, mentors are often aware of upcoming job opportunities.  Whether you are in a VP Finance role or a Sr. Financial Analyst position, they can then advocate for you, making sure that the right person is aware of your strengths and skills. All of the high-ranking finance executives could site at least one instance where they would not have gotten a specific role if the mentor hadn’t been behind the scenes pulling strings. Let’s face it, there will be times when you will not get a chance to speak on your own behalf.

Let’s face it, there will be times when you will not get a chance to speak on your own behalf.

Deliver for your Mentor – One of our interviewers put it succinctly – you have to deliver for your mentor.  Another said that people always remember who delivered for them and who did not.  He said that the fact that he was willing to go above and beyond the call made it easy for his mentor to support him later on down the road when he applied for a high level position within his organization.  Even if the work is not glamorous, or intellectually challenging, do it and do it well.

…you have to deliver for your mentor.

The consensus among our executives was that without key mentors at critical periods in their development, their career trajectory would have been very different.  Fundamentally it is up to you to identify a good mentor, and invest in the relationship so that he/she can inspire and guide you on the highly successful career path you are looking for.