As a public accountant at any level, it is important that you’re working toward your next career goal, and many of those future opportunities could be waiting for you at your current organization. However, in order to move up at your firm, you have to first prove your value. “There is never a better time than the present to start learning new skills and improve your performance within your firm,” says Michael Cooke, Senior Vice President and Partner at The Execu|Search Group. “With determination and focus, you can accomplish a great deal, showing your employer just how indispensable you are.” It might go without saying that becoming “indispensable” requires an employee to go above and beyond their typical responsibilities. However, Michael suggests that for public accounting professionals in particular, you can show your value by focusing your efforts in these areas:
If you’re a generalist in a public accounting firm, your growth within the organization can become stagnant without building upon your skillset. For example, because there are likely more generalists in the industry, you may have increased competition for upper level positions. As a result, specializing in one area can help to separate you from other generalists and provide more value to your firm. Some specializations that are in demand right now include:
- High Net Worth
- Real Estate
By continuing to learn new skills, you can increase the value you bring to the firm. To get yourself on the right track, first ask a partner where opportunities lie within the organization. This will help you determine the best skill set to pick up in order to advance and be more valuable to the firm.
In order to become indispensable, it is important to show your ability to be a leader within the organization. As a result, not only should you go above and beyond what is asked of you, but anticipate others’ needs and become a problem solver in your firm. When you volunteer your time to help the team, you can show your commitment to the success of the organization. “An excellent chance to develop your leadership skills is to volunteer to lead a training course,” says Michael. “Not only does this increase your visibility within the firm, but you can showcase your expertise in your field.”
Acquire New Business
The most important thing that you can do to show that you’re an indispensable employee is to bring in new business. While it may not be in your job description, your employer won’t be able to overlook your value when you’re increasing profits. Among the many ways that you can go about attaining new business for your firm, Michael suggests starting with these three strategies:
- Network: When you effectively network, you might be surprised to learn just how many people are in need of a new accounting firm. As you attend events and meet new people, be sure to mention what you do for a living; you never know what kind of accounting needs people may have. “Every business needs an accountant, so everyone you know is a potential source of business,” says Michael. “Also, make an effort to keep in touch with old friends, acquaintances and colleagues, as they may move to industry where one day they are in a decision making capacity to bring on audit / tax or consulting work.”
- Listen to your clients: While you may have plenty of clients who only pay your firm for one service, listening intently can allow you to find more opportunities to suggest other services to them. “Even if they’re looking for a specialized service that you don’t personally handle, referring them to another division for additional help still increases the bottom line for the firm,” says Michael. “Additionally, someone who already pays the firm and thinks highly of you is more inclined to spend more money with the firm.”
- Meet with a partner: If you’re unsure of how you can start bringing more business into the firm, meet with a partner who can help to guide you and give you advice. This can also show the partners that you’re a driven employee and that you’re interested in growing into a leadership role within the organization.