Step out of your comfort zone and don’t fear failure.

Why You Shouldn’t Fear Failure

Step out of your comfort zone and don’t fear failure.
Regardless of the inspirational quotes that encourage us to step out of our comfort zone, most of us fear failure. Unfortunately, to progress personally and professionally we need to challenge ourselves and risk failing. Here’s why getting out of your comfort zone could mean finding the career satisfaction you’ve always looked for.

What Is a Comfort Zone?
Put simply, your comfort zone is a behavioral safe space where routines create a certain amount of predictability. This minimizes stress and risk. 

Now, here’s where it gets interesting.

According to psychologists Robert M. Yerkes and John D. Dodson we need to create “optimal anxiety,” in order to maximize performance. This is because optimal anxiety is a state just outside of our comfort zone. Become too anxious and you derail your performance, but add a heightened state of awareness and suddenly you can maximize your results.

The key is not to think of your comfort zone as a negative place. We all need to have times where we minimize anxiety and stress. This allows us to operate from a place of strength when we do choose to branch out.

Want to read more about optimal anxiety? Check out this article from Business Insider.

How to Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone
No need to take up skydiving here, or paddle the Amazon, small changes in routine that create a sense of challenge can be enough to reduce the fear of failure. You’re essentially desensitizing yourself by safely (and systematically) creating a slight increase in perceived risk.

  • Select one routine and change it slightly – A different route to work, a varied exercise routine, or even a new restaurant can be good first steps
  • Make decisions differently – If you’re given to slow, considered thought, try making a snap decision on instinct and then embrace whatever happens (again, we’re not talking about climbing Everest here). It’s more about learning to let go a bit and trust in the process.
  • Visualize yourself stepping outside of your comfort zone. Imagine failure. Can you live with the results? Will the world come crashing down? Probably not. When we’re afraid, we tend to negatively deconstruct the possible outcome. This catastrophic thinking works against us and keeps us from branching out.
  • Small steps – Write down 3 small steps that you’ll take in the next 3 to 6 months. Make them goals with specific timelines and accountability. Whether it’s taking a trip you’ve always wanted to do, volunteering with an organization, or asking your manager for an opportunity to take a lead on a project, make the goals achievable and realistic.

Pro Tip: Take time to return to your comfort zone and process your experiences for maximum effect. This article from the New York Times called “Tiptoeing Out of Your Comfort Zone (and of Course, Back In)” does a great job of explaining how to take small, controlled steps of perceived risk.

Benefits of Stepping Outside of Your Comfort Zone

  • Increased productivity - Stepping outside of your comfort zone can create a “rush” which can increase productivity and mental focus.
  • Greater adaptability - By experiencing change in a controlled way and pushing past fear, you’ll gain a greater ability to manage unexpected situations
  • Improved Confidence – Experiencing time out of your comfort zone increases confidence.
  • Creativity – Challenging the old ways of doing things can unlock the creative part of our brain.
  • Growth – Whether you get in over your head or not, the personal growth will be substantial. Remember, constructive feedback can be a good thing.

Key Takeaways
Stepping outside of your comfort zone can be a challenging endeavor. But doing so, can lead to maximum performance and career growth. Take small steps. Set measurable and achievable goals that let you challenge your comfort zone in a controlled way. The end result will likely be increased productivity, confidence and personal growth.

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.

10 signs you’re burning out in your accounting career.

10 Signs You’re Burning Out and What to Do About It

10 signs you’re burning out in your accounting career.
Are you starting to dread going to work like Frodo approaching Mordor? Do you wake up feeling tired after a full night’s sleep? Are you frequently irritable, and not particularly engaged at work? Chances are that you’re starting to burn out. Here are some of the classic signs of burn out and what you can do about them before you quit your job and move to a cabin in Borneo.

Sign 1: Disengagement
You’re not only disengaged at work, but with life in general. 

Sign 2: Irritability
Are you getting irritated quickly? Do you regularly feel low-level anxiety? These can be signs of impending burnout.

Sign 3: Letting Go of Good Habits
In times of stress we should be taking care of our bodies. Instead, what we typically do is let go of our good habits and replace them with ones that can undermine our health. Are you exercising less? Eating poorly? Are you using negative coping strategies to deal with constant stress? These are red flags.

Sign 4: Cynicism
Feelings of cynicism and resentment are two harbingers of burnout.

Sign 5: Disrupted Sleep Patterns
People who are burning out often wake up exhausted even after a full night’s sleep. Alternatively, they can have problems falling asleep or staying asleep. Pay attention to disrupted sleep patterns. They can indicate that you’re burning out.

Sign 6: Not Making Time for Others
When you’re burning out you don’t always have the energy to connect with people that matter. Unfortunately, this can create a feeling of isolation. It’s important to stay connected to your social network. They are often your key support.

Sign 7: Worrying Excessively
Worrying excessively is a red flag. If you find yourself deconstructing things negatively, engaging in self-criticism and worrying about everything, it’s time to recognize that burnout could be around the corner.

Sign 8: Time Concerns
You can certainly push yourself for a period of time. But if you start to feel like there’s never enough time in the day this can create excessive stress, particularly for overachievers.

Sign 9: Low Productivity
You used to be the most efficient person you knew. Now, your productivity is dropping and you feel like you’re expending energy without getting the typical results.

Sign 10: Physical Illness
The physical symptoms of burnout can begin quite subtly – faint nausea, low-grade headache or a persistent cold you can’t seem to shake. Pay attention. Your body is trying to let you know that it’s breaking down.

What to Do About It
Assuming that you want to stay in the same career, or with the same organization, here are some tips for preventing burnout:

Prioritize – Prioritize your workload. Set aside time each day to answer emails rather than feeling compelled to respond in the moment.

Schedule a Meeting – If your manager is assigning more work than you can handle, schedule a meeting to discuss it. Come prepared with solutions, such as gaining more control over project timelines. The messaging is, “I want to deliver for you. Right now, at my current workload, I won’t be able to. Here are some solutions I’ve brainstormed. I’d love your feedback.”

Schedule Exercise – Regular exercise will help you manage stress, even if it’s just a 15 minute walk at lunch.

Eat Properly - Set aside time each Sunday to batch cook something healthy. This will help you eat well when you get home at night. 

Focus on the Present – Control what you can. Break down projects into manageable chunks and attach a timeline to each goal. Understand that worrying does not serve you and often takes the place of concrete action.

Stay Connected – Stay connected to friends and family. They can be a valuable support network.

Establish Sleep Hygiene – Gear down for an hour or 2 before you go to sleep. This means no phone or computer time as the light disrupts sleep patterns. If you wake up in the middle of the night, remind yourself that there’s nothing that can be done at 3 AM to solve the problem.

ReadRelaxation Techniques: Try These Tips to Reduce Stress” from the Mayo Clinic to learn how to minimize stress and sleep better.

Key Takeaways
The signs of impending burnout can be subtle. Red flags such as decreased motivation, increased irritability and feelings of cynicism and worry can tell us that we’re reaching our physical and mental limit. It’s imperative, therefore, to be proactive and implement changes to prevent burnout. Schedule time for friends, prioritize your workload as best as you can and ask for a meeting with your boss to help problem solve the situation. At the end of the day, if you need to, you can explore a new career opportunity, but before you decide to leave your organization it may be worth trying some of the steps listed above.

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.

How to Climb the Accounting Career Ladder Quickly

Climbing isn’t always done in a straight line, even on a mountain. There are obstacles to work around and challenges to overcome. But those who climb the finance or accounting career ladder quickly seem to share some very key behaviors. Want to fast track your finance or accounting career? Try practising these 8 habits.

Take Less Desirable Assignments
Taking assignments that others don’t want can give you exposure to different areas of the business, making you much more marketable. Not only do you demonstrate that you’re willing to pitch in for the team, you potentially enhance your skill set and your network.

Consider Lateral Moves
Moving laterally in an organization is not the death knell for your career. A lateral move in a larger firm, for example, actually allows you to gain specific business unit experience, not just corporate experience. And accepting a similar job in another company exposes you to new processes, people and opportunities.

Read: To find out more about the surprising ways that a lateral move could benefit your career, click here.

Make a Plan
Those who move up the corporate ladder quickly set short and long-term career goals. They develop a roadmap of how to achieve them, but are adaptable to new information and challenges. What is your long-term career focus? What are the interim steps along the way? 

Never Stop Learning
One of the things that differentiates those who fast track their accounting career from those who don’t, is a commitment to lifelong learning. The more skills and education you have the more valuable you are, and the harder you are to replace. Consider, for example, improving your systems knowledge. Increasingly, big data is driving decision-making, and finance is often seen as the bridge between IT and the rest of the company.

ReadHow Big Data is Changing the Accounting and Finance Landscape” for more information.

Have a Mentor
Those who climb the corporate ladder are committed to networking regularly. More importantly, they also have a mentor. Mentors are a sounding board. They can help you navigate office politics and be an advocate for you should the opportunity arise.

Be Willing to Work for It
Always seek to contribute more. Be willing to work long hours and volunteer for high visibility projects. Never say “that’s not my job.” Demonstrating initiative goes a long way to showing that you’re ready for more responsibility.

Develop Expertise
Top performers become subject matter experts. Whether it’s being seen as an industry guru, or an IFRS whiz, the more you know about a given area, the more important you are to an organization. Follow thought leaders on social media (or better yet become a thought leader) and grow your knowledge by attending industry events.

Dress for Success
Dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Dressing professionally helps project the image that you’re ready for more. How do the executives in your firm dress? That’s a good starting point.

Read: “Dressing for the Job You Want” for more tips.

Key Takeaways
Those who move up the finance or accounting career ladder share some similar traits. They are planners, who typically have a long-term career focus and a sense of how to get there. They are adaptable, willing to consider a lateral move if it makes strategic sense. They never stop learning, and often become industry or subject matter experts. They understand the importance of constantly networking and they usually have a mentor who helps guide their career.  Finally, they dress for the job they want and are willing to work hard to achieve their goals.

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.

How to Turn Weaknesses into Strengths

According to the best-selling book Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success, 97% of employees are able to identify their career limiting behaviors. And yet, of those 97%, only 10% change their behavior after receiving constructive feedback in a performance review. 

Why is this? Shouldn’t we want to change the behaviour that is sabotaging our forward progress? After all, the road to promotion often lies in recognizing our weaknesses and turning them into strengths. 

Here are some tips on how to do just that.

The Top 5 Limiting Behaviors
Joseph Grenny, one of the co-authors of Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success, identifies the top 5 career limiting behaviors as follows:

  • Unreliability
  • An unwillingness to work outside of the scope of existing duties, i.e. “It’s not my job”
  • Procrastination
  • Resistance to change
  • Negative attitude

Other red flags include selfishness, risk aversion and short-term thinking.  

Tip 1: What Are Your Triggers?
What situations trigger your career limiting behavior? For example, do you procrastinate when the pressure is on and the stakes are high? Is this because you fear falling short of the intended goal? Understanding what triggers these unhealthy patterns is the key to changing them. Note the social circumstances, mood and perception of risk that precede the limiting behaviour. Grenny calls these “crucial moments.” The use of the word “moments” is key because essentially, according to Grenny, it’s really about shifting your behavior in a more constructive direction for a few moments a day.

Possible triggers:

  • Fear of failure
  • Not feeling respected
  • Fear of contradicting someone in a position of authority
  • Fear of change (perhaps because you fear not being able to adapt or excel)
  • Not feeling valued or heard

Read: “How to Accept Feedback in Your Accounting Job” to learn how to listen to constructive feedback and grow from it.

Tip 2: Rehearse
Once you’ve identified your triggers, practice changing your response. Called “deliberate practice” by psychologist Anders Ericsson, these times of practicing a skill (and then ideally getting some feedback) can lead to accelerated change. Identify situations that could be moderately challenging, but still provide a feeling of safety, and attempt to reduce your response to the situation. Afterwards, do a mental debrief where you honestly assess how effective you were (or get outside feedback from a colleague or friend who will be honest with you).

To read more about deliberate practice click here.

Tip 3: Make It Manageable
Grenny says that it’s important to create a plan that includes developing skills for managing the emotions that accompany challenging a weakness, otherwise you simply reinforce the negative experience. Finding tactics that make an unpleasant experience more pleasant retrains the brain. This is what allows you to have a different emotional response to an event that would have triggered your career limiting behavior in the past.

Pro Tip: Decide what you really want and how your career limiting behavior is stopping you from achieving it. Whether it’s a key promotion or personal growth, knowing what you want will add impetus to changing the behavior that is sabotaging you.

Key Takeaways
Your triggers or patterns often stretch back into your earliest days. This can make them particularly challenging to change. But understanding the underlying fear behind your triggers and committing to what you really want can facilitate forward progress. Identify opportunities to safely challenge your trigger, and note crucial moments when change can occur. Develop a plan that includes skills for managing the emotions that come with changing a weakness. Fundamentally, this commitment to change can bring with it career advancement and personal and professional growth.

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.

Quitting Your Finance Job Soon? 5 Things You Need to Do ASAP

You’ve landed a new job, or simply recognize it’s time to transition. There are things you need to do right away to ensure that everything proceeds smoothly. After all, the GTA is a small place, so who needs to burn bridges. Here are 5 actionable items to consider before you tell your boss that you’re leaving.

There are a number of areas to prepare in advance:

  • Prepare for a counter offer – remember, however, that once your company’s panic wears off at the thought of you leaving, you’ll always be viewed as a flight risk. That’s why it’s wise to refuse a counter offer.
  • Prepare to answer questions about why you’re leaving - be gracious and classy. Don’t point fingers – you may need to get a reference letter down the road, or even return to your employer.
  • Think of 2 or 3 things that you liked about the company so that you can state them with confidence. Also consider assessing where you thought you delivered for the organization and how your opportunity to learn skill a, b, or c helped you achieve your goals. You’ll use this information during your conversation with your boss, but also in your resignation letter.

Write a Great Resignation Letter 
Write a professional resignation letter that continues to maintain or build your relationship with your employer. Even if you didn’t connect with your manager, find something positive to say. Remember to review your employee manual or letter of offer to understand how much notice you need to give.

Read: “Things to Avoid in a Resignation Letter” for more tips on crafting an effective letter of resignation.

Remove Personal Information
Remove personal information or correspondence from both your phone and computer. Make sure to take copies of performance reviews as they could help you secure future employment. And it goes without saying, leave all proprietary data and documents alone. 

Wrapping Up
Before you quit, think carefully about what you need to wrap up. You want to leave your team and company in as good a place as possible. Planning your final days allows you to present a strategy to your boss when you resign, showing that you’re still committed to helping the company. It also allows you to take the lead on what you’re prepared to do in your final two weeks. Write detailed notes about your daily duties and responsibilities. Add any tips and tricks you've picked up along the way. Create a sheet of logins and key contacts. Decide if you’re willing to help train whomever steps into the role. 

The 30, 60, 90 Day Plan
Regardless of why you’re leaving, you’ll likely be flooded with emotions when you do walk out the door for the last time. Prepare for this by writing down goals when you’re in a reflective, analytical and focused state of mind. Zero in on what you want to achieve at the 30, 60 and 90 day mark in your new role. This will help you feel more confident and in control during the transition. 

Read: “Career Planning for Accountants – The 1, 3 and 5 Year Mark” for career planning insight.

Key Takeaways
When you do decide to leave your accounting or finance job, there are a number of things that you can do to maintain your professional brand and ease the transition. Prepare before you meet with your boss. Decide if you’ll entertain a counter offer. Jot down 2 or 3 positive things about the organization, including what you learned and how it helped you succeed. Write a professional, classy resignation letter. Remove all personal information and performance reviews from your computer and phone. Think carefully about how you can leave the organization in as good a place as possible. Finally, set goals for the 30, 60 and 90 day mark to facilitate a sense of control and purpose. There’s no reason to quit your job, burn a bridge and damage your professional brand. With a little advance planning and a determination to be classy, you can make the experience as positive as possible for everyone involved.

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.

How to Ask Someone to Be Your Mentor

A mentor can be a valuable sounding board, an advocate and a source of advice.  But how do you ask someone if they are willing to put their time and energy into you? In short, landing a great mentor takes patience and some careful preparation. Here are some tips for asking someone to be your mentor.

Step 1: Career Goals
Start by reviewing (or setting) career goals. Who best exemplifies the title or experience you’re trying to acquire? Who represents the type of leader you want to be? 

Read: For more help with career planning read, “Career Planning Challenges for Accountants.

Step 2: Accessibility
If your company already has a formal mentoring program, this step is fairly straightforward. If this is not the case, then you need to evaluate the accessibility of your potential mentor. Your manager, or a manager with whom you work cross-functionally, is a good bet, as is a personal connection in another organization. Perhaps your prospective mentor is connected to a friend – making an introduction (or 2nd meeting) much easier to arrange.

Pro Tip: Ideally, your mentor would work in the same organization that you do. Do not, however, disregard the idea of a mentor who works for another company, particularly if they have the skills and attributes you want to grow in yourself.

Step 3: Research
Once you’ve decided who you’d like to approach, do your research. Take a look at their LinkedIn profile. Make notes on their career journey. Understanding some of the choices they’ve made will help you build rapport during your initial meeting.

The Right Approach

Scenario #1 
Sometimes, if you already have a personal relationship, the mentor/mentee part develops naturally as you seek advice from someone with greater knowledge than yourself.

Scenario #2
You know the individual, but you want to formalize the mentor/mentee relationship. Perhaps they are a manager in another department, or someone you’ve interacted with several times at a networking function. In other words, there is already a basic connection.

  • The goal is to build the relationship
  • Ask if the person if they want to meet - ask questions about the career choices they’ve made and projects that they’re passionate about – i.e. make the meeting about them, not you
  • Listen more than speak
  • Consider asking them for advice on a specific issue
  • Follow-up after the meeting, letting them know that you appreciated their time
  • Continue to build the relationship by periodically checking in (every 2 to 3 weeks), or sending them articles that you think will interest them based on your previous conversations
  • As you get to know them, you’ll get a sense of whether or not this person would be truly suitable as a mentor. If you want to move forward after a few months, consider explaining that you’d like the individual to be your mentor

If You Decide That You Do Want Someone to Be Your Mentor, Try Saying the Following:

  • Explain that you’re looking for a mentor
  • Communicate clearly why you think the person that you’re asking would be a great mentor
  • Make the conversation about what you feel you can learn from them. Mention shared interests if applicable. Express a willingness to volunteer on a project or initiative that they’re passionate about, or participate in an event that they’re helping to organize - make the mentoring role a two-way street by giving of own time
  • Remember that the individual is busy and always operate for a place of gratitude, not self-entitlement

Scenario #3
You do not know the individual, but you have seen them speak or are familiar with their work.

  • This scenario is the trickiest to navigate as you’ll need to start from the ground up
  • Ideally, you know someone who has a connection with the individual you’d like as your mentor
  • Use LinkedIn to see if anyone in your network is connected to your prospective mentor, and reach out to that individual to see if they could arrange an introduction, or at least give the prospective mentor a heads up that you’ll be reaching out
  • If this is a true cold call, then use LinkedIn to start developing a relationship
  • Explain in an email that you have followed their work/seen them speak/attended a professional development workshop they led, etc.
  • Ask for 30 minutes of their time. Explain that you hope to follow a similar career path and would love to ask them about some of their career choices
  • Build the relationship
  • Don’t ask them to mentor you in the first meeting
  • Much like in scenario 2, make the meeting about them. Respect their time. 
  • Follow the tips in scenario 2 for building a relationship and formalizing a mentoring role

Pro Tip: Tell your prospective mentor that you are dedicated to the process and want to learn as much as possible.

Key Takeaways
If you want someone to be your mentor, it’s important that you operate from a place of respect and gratitude. Research your prospective mentor in advance. Ask for a meeting and make the conversation about the individual and their career choices. Continue to build the relationship and determine if this is an individual that you can truly learn from. If so, after a period of time, it’s not unreasonable to ask the individual if they’d be willing to be your mentor. Be honest about what you feel you can learn and express a willingness to give back to your mentor by volunteering your own time. 

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.

Dealing With an Accounting Career Setback

At some point or another you may have to deal with a setback in your finance or accounting career. Perhaps you got caught in the cross-fire of an acquisition. Maybe your performance hasn’t met management’s expectations.  Whether all of this equals a forced transition, or a lack of promotion, how you deal with a setback can define your future success. Here are some insights into how resilient people deal with a setback and come out stronger in the process.

Deal With Initial Emotions
Feelings of disbelief, denial and sadness are common.  Perhaps you’ve never experienced failure, or been told that you’re not meeting expectations. Process the emotions so that you can move forward.

Pro Tip: Don’t be reactive after being given bad news. When emotions are raw, we can say and do things that we’ll regret in the future. Remember the GTA is a small place. Alienating a co-worker or manager will not help you land your future opportunity.

Learn From the Experience
Accepting feedback can be challenging, particularly if it doesn’t equate with our self-perception.  According to this article in the Harvard Business Review, “…high achievers usually take too much credit for their successes and assign too much external blame for their failures. It’s a type of attribution bias that protects self-esteem but also prevents learning and growth.”

The solution: Don’t seek feedback from sympathetic friends. Understand, instead, how you contributed to what went wrong, and determine what you could do differently. For example, let’s say that you were expecting a promotion that went to someone else. Ask for a meeting with your boss. Explain that you accept the decision but want to learn from the experience. Listen carefully. Don’t get defensive. Then actively seek to change your career limiting behaviours, or address your skill gap. 

Read: "How to Accept Feedback in Your Accounting Job” to learn how to accept constructive criticism and grow from it.

Identify Opportunity
Sometimes a loss gives you an opportunity to truly ask yourself what you want. This may mean a new job, a different organization, or even career. Don’t dismiss a lateral move, or going back to school as viable options. Seek out a career counselor, feedback from a mentor or colleague and shape your next steps. Consider reaching out to a recruiter who can offer you interview tips, resume advice and market information. The key here is to avoid being reactive. Your goal is to gain perspective and set goals. And while a little escapism can give you a reprieve, (think a small trip somewhere), ultimately you want to process your emotions and channel your energy into productive action.

Make a Plan
Once you’ve set goals, it’s time to develop a plan to achieve them. Change like this requires adaptability which is not always easy for everyone. Making a plan, however, is a constructive process that will help you feel a sense of control and forward movement. Accept that things will not always go smoothly, and be prepared to deal with smaller challenges along the way.

Pro Tip: Remember to use social media to your advantage in landing your next opportunity. Here are some resources to help you leverage the power of LinkedIn and other social media platforms.

Key Takeaways
A setback in your finance or accounting career doesn’t spell the end of your professional success. Allow yourself some time to process your emotions and determine what you might want in the future. Don’t act rashly and send an email, or have a conversation that you’ll regret. Instead, solicit feedback to determine what your career limiting behaviors are, or if there is a skill gap that you can address. If your setback is the product of a merger, or company re-organization, evaluate where your next opportunity might be. Make a plan to achieve your goals and accept that small challenges might be a part of the process. If you can see a career setback as an opportunity for growth and a new start, then you can let go of your self-doubt, denial or frustration and turn it into something productive.

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.

Finance Job Insights: Succeeding in a Large Company

You used to work for a smaller organization. Now you’ve landed a finance job with a large company. You obviously want to make a good first impression and ramp up quickly. Here are a few insights that will help you succeed in your new role.

Smaller companies often have 2 or 3 stakeholders with whom you have to connect. In larger organizations there will likely be multiple people (potentially internally and externally) who will rely on you for information. It’s critical, therefore, to identify the key stakeholders, how they like to receive information and begin to build relationships as quickly as possible. 

Larger companies are by nature more complex than smaller organizations. As tech demands increase for accounting and finance professionals, that complexity is likely to manifest itself in multiple systems. Determine how you’ll source the information you need to do your job well. In addition, get insight from your manager about how your role fits into the company’s big picture. 

Read this blog to gain insight into the increasing tech demands for accountants.

Communicate Value
Helping others understand what you do and its value (especially cross-functional connections) enables you to identify quick wins and areas where you can be of service. This helps you position yourself as a business partner and resource. It also improves the overall relationship of the finance department to other business units.

Demonstrate Initiative
Take the initiative to identify a process in need of improvement. Develop a plan to re-engineer it. Present the plan to your manager. Taking the initiative like this has the potential to make your team’s life easier. It also shows that you are invested in the role and committed to continuous improvement.

For more tips on how to show initiative without seeming overeager read this article.

Identify a Mentor
Whether you’re a junior accountant, or CFO everyone can benefit from having a mentor. Ideally your mentor would be someone in a higher-level role within your organization. They would have a positive reputation for facilitating change and model the behaviors you’d like to develop in yourself. Mentors can be a sounding board, an advocate and a source of valuable information.

Read: “Mistakes Millennials Make When Approaching a Mentor” for tips on how to avoid sabotaging a relationship with a potential mentor.

Key Takeaways
To succeed in a large company try to understand who the relevant stakeholders are. Determine how they prefer to receive information and how you’ll source it. Ask your manager to explain how your role connects to the big picture to help you do your job well. Identify a process in need of improvement and develop a plan to create positive change. Most importantly, perhaps, identify a mentor who can be a sounding board and a guide through the challenging waters of office politics.

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.

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.

How to Become Indispensable in Your Accounting Job

Chuck Noll, the famous coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, once said, “Everyone’s job is important, no one is indispensable.” And while this is true, every office has someone that would be particularly hard to replace. Whether it’s because of key relationships, or an ability to be a “go to” person, consistently demonstrating value can make you the individual who weathers the downsizing storm.

Identify Strengths and Become an Expert
What are you especially good at? While you may perform a specific set of duties and responsibilities, is there an area where you can become the resident expert? Focus your energy there and become the “go to” person.

Develop Complementary Skills - Particularly Communication
Technical accounting wizardry paired with strong communication skills is an unbeatable combination. Research conducted by Clarity Recruitment showed that C-Suite members clearly identified communication skills as the key to the success of finance and accounting personnel.

Add Value
Look for ways to add value. Are you a natural mentor? Can you help your team be successful? Can you spot processes that could be automated and develop a plan to re-engineer them? Being proactive and innovative makes you particularly valuable.

Read: “10 Traits of Innovative Leaders” from the Harvard Business Review for more information on traits that unite innovative managers.

Be Reliable
Become the employee that people know will deliver when asked. Most importantly, when things become challenging, show that you’re willing to step up and get things done - even if it means long days.

Make Your Manager’s Life Easier
Most employees try to get their work done and fly under the radar. Indispensable employees, however, identify ways to make their manager’s life easier. Communicate that you are ready to take on additional responsibility, and then make sure to become a person your boss can rely on.

Think Strategically
Think beyond your current responsibilities. How can you help your company be successful? Take on leadership roles, or participate in special projects that have high visibility. Become a key contributor to stand out. 

Build Relationships
Building strong, cross-functional relationships increases your value. Understand what different departments do in the organization and operate from a posture of service to help business unit leaders be successful. In addition, consider connecting with a mentor who can be your advocate in challenging times.

ReadFrom Junior Accountant to CFO – Why Everyone Needs a Mentor” to understand how important a mentor can be in creating the career that you want.

Get Tech Savvy
Increasingly, accountants are the bridge between finance and IT. The more tech savvy you are, the harder you are to replace. For more insight into the increasing tech demands for accountants read this blog

ReadHow Big Data is Changing the Finance and Accounting Landscape” for more information into how the best accountants are becoming far more than just number crunchers.

Key Takeaways
While no one is indispensable, you can certainly make it difficult to replace you. Play to your strengths and become a resident expert in a particular area. Look for ways to innovate and add value to your organization. Try to make your manager’s life easier. Demonstrate a willingness to work long hours and do what’s needed to get the job done. Become a strong communicator, and make sure that you are technologically savvy. Ultimately, you’ll be the kind of person that your organization will want to hold onto.

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.