Tips for Accountants: How to Build and Manage Your Brand – Part 1

By Frank Wdowczyk, CPA, CGA

Frank, Senior Recruitment Partner at Clarity Recruitment, has over eight years of practical accounting experience, and seven years as a finance recruiter. He lends his extensive expertise to finance professionals across the GTA. 

“Personal branding” is all the rage today. We hear about branding in relation to corporations, products, celebrities, even politicians.

For accountants, developing a powerful and distinctive personal brand is essential for advancing your career, particularly when you’re seeking employment. Controlling your professional image, ensuring employers see you in the best light, and capitalizing upon social media opportunities, will enhance your prospects. But, what can accounting and finance professionals do to build theirs? How can you do that when you’re looking for work? Here are some key steps in the right direction:

Defining your brand with a self-assessment

Your personal brand is what sets you apart from other candidates; to sell and market that brand, you first have to identify it. A good way to start is to assess your skills, experiences, and personality. Draft a list of your duties, responsibilities, and competencies from previous employment.  Define:

  • What makes you unique to employers?
  • What are your skillsets and competencies?
  • What were your major successes and achievements?
  • Where did you struggle, or even fail?

Acknowledging your limitations can be tough but beneficial. Include your strengths and weaknesses so that you have a better sense of the roles in which you’re likely to succeed in and those you may be less suited for. Most importantly, be yourself and be authentic.

Your self-assessment will not only pin down your current brand identity, it can help you plot out a larger career trajectory.  Reflecting upon your past experiences will aid you in narrowing down the types of jobs, companies, and career paths you want to pursue in your next move or opportunity. This will also help you prepare for interviews.

Communicating your brand in your pitch

A self-assessment should lay the groundwork for the next step – the pitch. The pitch is to your brand what a commercial is to a product – its goal is to hook the audience. Keep it short – no longer than fifteen seconds or two to three sentences. Don’t let brevity come at the expense of information. Your pitch should succinctly convey who you are, what you’re about, where you’ve been, and what you’re looking for professionally. For example: “I began my career as an accounts clerk in the retail sector, but I was determined to learn everything there was to know about accounting. Once I learned the ropes, I discovered that I enjoyed finding ways to make improvements to the accounting cycle. So I parlayed that into my next job as an accounting manager at XYZ company.”

Research suggests that people form a lasting impression in as little as seven seconds. After that initial, gut-level assessment, you’ll have an instant to relate your unique story and brand. Everyone likes a good story, it’s up to you, to construct a concise narrative that’s personalized, engaging, and communicates your brand. Above all, be sure to answer: Where have you worked previously? What are you doing currently? And where do you see yourself going in the future?

Stayed tuned for Part 2 of How to Build and Manage Your Brand.

This article originally appeared in the mid-October 2013 issue of The Bottom Line.