Ways to career success
Recruiters often observe that people tend to spend more time planning their summer holidays than they do their career.
Proper career planning should reap rewards in the long term.
Beyond qualification, there is a wide range of areas you need to consider when planning the stages of your career.
Gain good advice
It is important to ask others about your strengths and weaknesses – seek opinions from your boss, colleagues, clients, recruitment consultants or friends and family.
Andrew Setchell, Director of Accountancy Recruitment at Robert Walters, says: ‘I would encourage people to think more about their careers before coming to talk to us. It helps us focus on helping them.
Ideally, you would know what you will be doing in ten years’ time. Then you can work back and get an indication of where you will be in five, then three and two years. A lot of accountants, once qualified, move within three years – the first role can determine what your second role will be.
If you cannot visualise where you will be in ten years, try some different roles, see where those jobs might take you and that should help you decide.
Matching your personality to your targeted role/s and employer/s is the next step. As well as aligning your skill sets, talk to people who are already in a role you aspire to and see if they have similar personality traits.
Setchell emphasises the importance of cultural fit with an organisation. As an accountant you are likely to work long hours – you could and should have a social circle at work; it is hugely important that the fit is as close as possible.
Find out about employees' backgrounds – are they similar to yours? What is that organisation’s employment history; where are previous employees now and what are they doing? We talk about personality fit and chemistry at all levels because, for most jobs, we find relevant skill sets on multiple CVs. Finding the right personal match is where the true value comes.
It is important to keep your plan flexible, especially in the early stages of your career which is often very fluid. After five to ten years, people have more tendency to stay in the same sector or role. It is therefore important to gain as much varied experience as possible in the early years, to ensure you find the route most suitable to you, then to plan to ensure you spend the later stages of your career working in your preferred areas.
Even the best plans don’t always work. Your career plan has to be a work in progress and you should revisit it regularly. For example, do not be afraid of a sideways move to reinvigorate your career if you reach a plateau or cul-de-sac.
Managing your career can be a big challenge and there are sure to be obstacles and surprises along the way. However, a good plan will help you be ready for these.
Setchell adds that: ‘The flexibility of, say, the CIMA qualification means you can do lots of other things. For many accountants, it is a commercial passport to other careers. People’s priorities change and the qualification gives you that flexibility.
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For more career advice please contact:
Samantha Gravett, Manager
+27 (0) 11 881 2471