22 October 2014
Starting in the early days of September, if you are an avid football lover, much of your free time leading up to the season opener was probably spent meticulously analyzing and putting together a strategy to draft the best fantasy football team possible. According to a CNBC article, fantasy football has become a $15 billion industry and there seems to be more about this “hobby” than meets the eye. With all the planning, analyzing, and strategizing that goes into putting together a fantasy football team, one can’t be surprised to find out that there are many facets of our professional careers where we can employ a similar strategy. “If you are an accounting professional looking for your next opportunity, you should be putting as much planning into your career goals as you are your fantasy teams,” says Michael Cooke, Executive President of The Execu|Search Group’s Accounting/Finance division. “As the QB of your professional career, you want to make sure you are making the right decisions regarding the jobs you take, the skills you acquire, and the networking you do in order to ensure you have a successful accounting career.” Keep reading to find out how to apply some of your fantasy team strategy to planning out your accounting career goals: Be prepared for the long haul Every week is different in the fantasy realm, and as a result, you must always be ready to pick up a player from the waiver wire, utilize one of your bench players, or make a trade. In such an unpredictable league, without thinking about the big picture from the beginning, you risk making short-term impulsive decisions that could negatively impact your team in the long run. In terms of your career, you first need to identify what your long-term goals are and create a well-thought out plan to achieve them. For instance, if you are a CPA with extensive experience working at public accounting firms, who ultimately wants to transition to internal audit, you have to make sure you are building the skills and experience you need to pursue your dream. “You want to ensure that you are proactively building your skills and education from the start with the right certifications, degrees, and experience that will help you to excel in your career,” says Michael. Thinking about the bigger picture when making career decisions and not getting blindsided by short-term gains, such as taking a role that offers a higher salary or more vacation days, over a job that you are more interested in, will be the best way to stay on track to reach your long-term goals. Looking at the bigger picture also gives you the opportunity to take a step back and figure out if you need another partner, such as a mentor or recruiter that could compliment your efforts to reach your career goals. Just like balancing your fantasy team with strong players is a wise route to take, as you consider the next step(s) in your career, be sure to balance all aspects of your career to help reach your long-term goals before making decisions solely based on one factor. Understand your strengths and weaknesses As a fantasy football team owner, you should know that the best way to make it into the playoffs is to have a well-balanced team by making sure to cover all angles with solid picks. While you don’t always have the opportunity to get the best person for every position, you should understand the players/teams strengths and weaknesses that will best help your end goal (i.e., earning the most fantasy points, becoming the league champion, etc.). By the same token, in order to take the right steps in your professional development it’s important to understand your own professional strengths and weaknesses. “The more capable you are of understanding your strengths and improving upon your weaknesses, the easier it will be to identify where you want to end up and what you need to learn in order to get there,” says Michael. Additionally, employers are interested in knowing why they should hire you, so your ability to confidently explain what you can professionally bring to the table to not only the hiring manager, but also to yourself, will take you far in your job search and will be integral to achieving your long-term career goals. Stay up-to-date on current/evolving trends Only you know the amount of countless hours of research you put into scouring sports websites or Fantasy apps to stay up-to-date on player injuries, trades, and off-field incidences in the league. In the fantasy world you rely on these news sources to stay educated in order to know what will impact your current lineup. “This same concept can be applied to your professional career,” says Michael. “The more educated you are on what’s happening in your industry, the better equipped you will be to manage your long-term career goals and expectations.” In other words, you should stay up-to-date on industry specific news and follow relevant thought leaders, as this will help you to be a more informed professional that can easily answer industry-related questions during interviews, or talk about current events at networking opportunities. It will also help you gain a better understanding of trends you need to educate yourself on in order to keep your skills up-to-date and prevent your career growth from becoming stagnant.