Developing a Plan for Your Accounting Career

The road to success is paved with luck, hard work – and planning. Here are some tips for mapping out the shortest distance between you and the accounting career you want for yourself. 

Aren’t road trips the best? There’s nothing quite like hitting the open road, with your windows down and your favourite tunes on the radio.

Half the fun, though, comes from just selecting a route to take. Some of us want to get to our destination as quickly as possible. Others, by contrast, want to meander, enjoy the occasional side trip, and explore roadside attractions (including – incomprehensible though it might be to a good number of us – popular showstoppers like the world’s largest rocking chair).

Ultimately, what unites both of these approaches is the drive to achieve a goal. They only differ from one another in terms of the time frame each establishes for the achievement of its respective goal. Whether you prefer the former or the latter, developing a plan for your accounting career can only benefit you in the long run.

The final destination

In planning your accounting career, you need to determine your ultimate career goal. Do you want to own an accounting business? Would you rather freelance in the future? Dream of breaking into international accounting and working abroad? Or are you looking for a stable career in an organization that provides ample opportunities for professional growth and development?

Even if your end goal is something like, “I want to work as a controller for a company that specializes in green planning,” you’re still establishing a direction for your career. After all, if you don’t know where you’re going, how can you make a plan to get there?

After all, if you don’t know where you’re going, how can you make a plan to get there?

Milestones

Now its time to develop your personal accounting career roadmap. To build a useful roadmap, you have to decide what success looks like for you at the one-, three-, and five-year marks. It’s one thing to set goals for yourself; it’s another to be able to ground them in a realistic assessment of the opportunities available to you along the career highway.

Your goals, in short, have to be realistic, attainable, and time-sensitive. But there’s no point in fixing personal and career objectives if you’re not going to hold yourself personally accountable for reaching – or missing – them. Establish some means of measuring whether or not you are keeping pace with your plans, or whether you’re veering off course. Milestones serve to keep you on track, ensuring that you reach your final career destination.

Strategy

To have a successful accounting career, you’ll need to adopt a strategic approach to networking and personal brand building. Foster relationships with individuals who can help you grow your skill set and move your career forward. Ensure that you have a strong LinkedIn profile that promotes your personal brand and situates you in the industry you’d ultimately like to work in.

As bitter a pill as it might be to swallow, you’ll have to brace yourself for the possibility of taking a small step back in order to take two or three forward. This detour, however, can help you build a competency that you lack, or enhance a key relationship that you’ll be able to leverage later on. Simply put, people who set goals and develop strategies to achieve them are much more likely to be successful.

It’s one thing to set goals for yourself; it’s another to be able to ground them in a realistic assessment of the opportunities available to you along the career highway.

Refining and revising

No plan exists in isolation. Things outside of our control can shift our lives in different directions. When something unexpected happens, it’s perfectly fine to revise your plan and determine the new actionable steps you need to take. In fact, we recommend that you review your career plan twice a year to see how well you are progressing. Make sure that you schedule this review: when you’re focused on the day-to-day demands of your job, it’s all too easy to lose the forest for the trees.

To build a rewarding accounting career, you need to identify your destination, and then map the best route to take you there. And before you know it, you’ll find yourself in the accounting career of your choice.

Let us know what you think! At Clarity Recruitment, we’re always interested in hearing from accounting and finance professionals like yourselves, who are ready for new, exciting opportunities that can take their careers to the next level. And be sure to follow us on Twitter (@clarityrecruits) and connect with us on Facebook for more great tips and advice!