The Big 4 Breakup – Think 2 Jobs Ahead

This blog post was originally published as a LinkedIn thought piece by Clarity Recruitment’s founder Joe Diubaldo. It is a continuation of the post “The Big 4 Breakup – Consider These 5 Things.

Think 2 jobs ahead:  Your first job out of public accounting is often the “bridge” to your next job. This means that you want to build the competencies that you need for jobs 2 and 3 while still in job 1.  I know that we all want to jump straight to job 2, but you may have to close some gaps first and build credibility. 

I want to start with an idea:  Employers will invest more in people who invest in themselves. This is one of the key reasons I like talking to candidates about “2 Jobs Ahead” because it allows them to properly visualize their career path and make specific investments.

They find a renewed sense of confidence about what they can start to accomplish, and their employers take notice. So let’s talk more about what that looks like in practice:

REACTIVE: Put up your hand when asked 
You know how this works. You’re in a meeting and there is a request for a team member to join a new committee. Joining would broaden your exposure to different stakeholders, expose you to new ways of thinking and help build specific skills. Unfortunately, these opportunities don't always develop the skills you're looking for, or just aren't available in the first place. When they do arise, take advantage of them. Keep in mind, however, that this is not a proactive approach, but rather a reactive one. You shouldn’t really wait for the right opportunity – instead, you should go and proactively find one.  Your career growth is the primary responsibility of you and you alone.

PROACTIVE: Can I help with that? 
The best five words a manager can hear are "Can I help with that?" Listen to your management team when they are sharing organizational or team updates about any new initiatives or upcoming priorities. Even better, listen to the challenges that are present in your company and think about possible solutions.  If you think there is an opportunity to snag some of that relevant experience you are looking for then ask if you can help. Remember that your manager can’t read your mind, so they may not even realize that something is of interest to you until you mention it. This year alone, there have been 3 instances when one of my team members surprised me by raising their hand. It didn't even occur to me that they would take an interest in the initiative being discussed. There is no downside to this approach. Even if your manager feels that this opportunity isn't a fit, he or she will keep you in mind for the next project or initiative. This could be a real chance to expand your experience, unlike perhaps audit and tax where exposure to non-accounting work may be more limited.

Remember that your manager can’t read your mind, so he or she may not even realize that something is of interest to you until you mention it. 

Two ways to help:  a) Volunteer to fill a skill gap in a project or team b) If someone has been ill, is taking a big holiday, or going on a parental leave, ask if you can help.

STRATEGIC: Network with those who are doing the role you’re interested in
Seek out people who are excelling at areas you want to grow in. Ask others what makes those individuals so good at what they do. Introduce yourself and build a meaningful connection. Understanding what makes someone great at their job will help you focus on the skills and type of professional you want to become.

A caveat on behalf of hiring managers: I have to add this because I know that without it my inbox and comment section will be flooded with, “That’s great advice Joe (thanks!), but an employee needs to be competent at their core responsibilities first, before they take on anything else.” It's a valid point, but I will say this:

  • If you are within the first year of your role, ask for an evaluation to understand how you are progressing and what skills or responsibilities you need to master.
  • If you have more than a year of experience in your current role, be aware that there still may be areas that you need to create depth in. Start a conversation with your manager on how and where you can do this. 

Key Takeaways
Big 4 Firms offer specific and quick career progression especially within the first 5 years. You likely know what skills you’ve needed to acquire in order to move your career forward. This is incredibly valuable and helpful when you are starting out in your career and focused on completing your designation. When you part ways with the Big 4, however, this clear career progression can become a bit hazy. Proactively seek out opportunity.  Identify people who are exceptional at what they do and build relationships with them.  Identify gaps in your skill set and fill them.  Understand that the path to the next role starts with the one you're in and take action accordingly.

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.