Going to work every day keeps the paychecks coming in. You may receive excellent performance reviews and even get promoted. But while showing up and doing your job every day is important, it’s not the same as managing your career path. However, managing your career isn’t about getting a gold star. It’s about doing work you love and feeling confident, supported and on top of your game. You want a career that supports the kind of life you want to live. That all sounds great, right? But how do you get there? Here are five ways to take charge of your career in finance and accounting.
1. Think about your past, present, and future
What work have you loved to do? Hated to do? What do you want to learn more about? Take some time to think about your perfect life, and then really visualize it. Where do you live? What kind of people do you work with? How you spend your days?
When you think about what you want out of life, you may find that you’re not too far off track. But if you’ve put your career on auto-pilot, you might need a course correction. Don’t worry about what’s possible right now. Set goals and then write it down. That’s the first step toward getting there.
2. Speak up
Part of taking charge of your career path is being direct about what you want. Don’t wait for your boss to notice that you’re ready for a new opportunity. She may assume that you aren’t interested in certain opportunities. Sometimes a colleague will get promoted, or a new hire will come on board, for a role that you didn’t even know existed. Have regular discussions with your boss. Discuss where you’re headed and ensure she knows that you’re ready and willing to take the next step.
3. Volunteer for challenges
While you’re talking to your boss about what you want to do, ask for projects that will help you get there. If you want to manage the department, ask to be a team leader on a project. In order to move from audit to forensic accounting, ask to help with a special project. When these opportunities aren’t available, create your own. Identify a problem and come up with a solution. People will be impressed by your proactivity and thought leadership.
4. Build relationships
Think of your network as a professional development tool. Learn how to network with the right people. You want to connect with people who can help you move your career in the direction you want to go. You can learn a tremendous amount by observing others and asking questions. Find someone who currently has the kind of career you want. Ask what they did to get there and what kind of professional associations you should join.
5. Pursue specialized training
Accounting and finance both offer many areas of specialization. Some comes from work experience, while some can be obtained through education. For example, some companies only hire CFOs with MBAs. If you’re interested in forensic accounting, look into the Certified Fraud Examiner designation. Or, check out the Certified Management Accountant track if you’re interested in management.
Remember, no one else is going to design the career path that you want. Don’t sit back and wait for somebody to notice that you’re ready to take the next step in your career. Take matters into your own hands and work to make sure that you’re on the right path. Before you know it, you’ll land that promotion, receive an offer for your dream job, or start a successful business of your own.