Career Planning for Accountants: The 1, 3, and 5 Year Mark

Where do you want to be in 5 years? Is your current role going to allow you to achieve your objectives? To have the career you want, it’s critical to engage in self–reflection at the 1, 3, and 5 year mark.

The 1 Year Mark
At the 1 year mark you’re evaluating fit. Is the role what you thought it would be? Are you hitting your performance metrics and adding value like you thought you would? Essentially you’re determining whether there is alignment between the original job description, your expected performance and what you’re currently experiencing in the role.

Should You Leave?

  • Yes, if the role is truly not a fit for your skill set or core values
  • Yes, if someone offers you your dream job

Otherwise continue to evaluate if there are opportunities to progress and what your next steps might be.

ReadHow to Fast Track Your Accounting Career in 2017” for some specific goals to help you take your career to the next level.

The 3 Year Mark
At the 3 year mark you’re evaluating how you’ve progressed within the organization:

  • Were there growth opportunities? Has a senior leader or manager clearly laid out your path to promotion?
  • Have I grown my skill set, and if so how? Did these growth opportunities align with my career objectives?
  • Did I have an opportunity to work cross-functionally and build relationships beyond the finance function?
  • Have I developed both mentors and sponsors? At 3 years you should have people in the organization that are actively mentoring you. You should also have contacts who will promote you to the right people.

Should You Stay?

  • If you answered “yes” to the questions above and the path to promotion is clear, then stay.
  • If you answered “no” to one of the questions above is there anything you can take action on? If so, then consider staying.
  • Be open to other opportunities if they’ll allow you to develop expertise in an area you love, acquire skills, gain a title, or a significant increase in pay.

The 5 Year Mark
The 5 year mark is about reassessing goals. At this stage, you know what the company is about, and what your place is within it. For example, when you were starting out you established a big picture goal – you wanted to be a CFO of a large, public company. Are you going to hit that goal with this organization? Will you gain the skills and expertise you’ll need? If not, you need to evaluate your reasons for staying, versus the potential benefits of going.

Reasons to Stay:

  • You like your team and manager
  • The company’s senior leadership has charted a positive trajectory
  • The company’s culture matches how you like to work and your core values
  • Your compensation is good
  • The role is engaging and you continue to be challenged

Ask yourself if you still want to be a CFO. In fact, evaluate all of your goals and decide if they still fit with your career aspirations.

Pro Tip: At both the 3 and 5 year mark reach out to your network, as well as to finance and accounting recruiters. Determine how the market has changed. It will help you understand if you’re being undervalued in your current role, and if there are any opportunities that make sense for you at this stage of your career. The knowledge you gain will be helpful should you want to talk to your boss. Remember, your next job will likely come from someone you know, so continue to network as much as possible.

ReadTips for Accountants: The Do’s and Don’ts of Networking” to get practical advice about how to network effectively.

Key Takeaways
The 1, 3 and 5 year marks have specific milestones connected to them. The 1 year mark is about evaluating the fit between yourself, the job and the organization. At 3 years assess if you’re where you need to be. Is the path to progression clear? At the 5 year mark re–evaluate your goals. Are they still what you want? Are they still achievable with your current organization? By engaging in some self-assessment at critical junctures in your career, you ensure that you’re on the right path and can take corrective action if you’re not.

Your Next Step
No one should walk the job search or hiring road alone. At Clarity Recruitment we help others realize their success through a process that marries proprietary technology with unwavering commitment. Contact us today to take control of your career, or to partner with us to hire well.

Clarity Recruitment, connecting exceptional people with remarkable companies.