Most of the job seekers I work with are interested in a CFO career track so I recently I asked several of my CFO connections, “If you were to start your career all over, what would you do differently?”
Many of the career tips were what I had been preaching for years but they also mentioned great stuff I had not even thought of!
So from a “do over” perspective, here are my favorite “Top 10” Accounting Career tips from CFOs.
I would have….
10. Realized how important good grades were in High School
9. Started college sooner
8. Found a mentor
7. Took an interested in mentoring others
6. Networked much sooner and more often.
“Good grades, degrees and experience do not necessarily translate into a corner office. Those things COMBINED WITH knowing highly placed people in your field, both professionally and socially, will.”
5. Went straight into public accounting before getting into private industry.
“Better than a MBA is a CPA. I think this is a must. I can see a CMA after you leave public accounting and enter private accounting.”
4. Realized the guys in the corner office were not much smarter than me much sooner.
3. Not take certain jobs just because they were offering more money.
2. Made it a point to work for a publicly traded company at some point.
And “tonight’s #1” Accounting Career Tip….
“Maybe learn golf”
Thanks to all of my CFO contacts for great advice!
There is so much opportunity within Accounting & Finance that one does not need to be completely focused on the CFO track just for the sake of success. As one of my contact states,
“I would not change a thing. Still glad I chose MBA in Accounting & skipped CPA & CFO. After Controller, I switched to Consulting, much more stimulating & lucrative. Get to do the work you like, skip the stuff you don't, work when you want, where you want and with who you choose, learn more, accomplish more, and get to help a lot more people, plus no month end, politics or layoffs or depending on anyone else to decide how much you make, when or how, and no false security of W-2 position that may end tomorrow by surprise. Much rather control my own destiny even if I have to pay my own taxes.”
- Do you have career questions?
- Which one of these tips do you want to know more about?
- Do you have career advice?
Let us know!
Posted by:Saundra LeePresident, Dubin & Lee
Numbers are fun but strategy is more fun.
Well, that’s what many Accountants have told me over the last almost 15 years of recruiting for Corporate Accounting and Finance.
Back in the day, well, in late 90’s I would talk to an Accountant and he or she would say, “I want to make the move into corporate finance.”
I would say, “Dream on!”
Times have sure changed! Now, when a client calls me to help them find someone for their Finance job, they actually prefer someone that comes from accounting! Who knew??!?
So why is that?
I have recruited through 3 recessions and one of the commonalities I have seen in Accounting & Finance is that every time the economy takes a big blow, there is usually some sort of regulation, compliance or convergence to follow.
With the recession in the early 2000’s we had some huge scandals including Enron. This scandal was the primary factor in the birth of Sarbanes-Oxley. Publicly traded companies that needed to get compliant with Sarbanes Oxley (or SOX) keep us Accounting Headhunters very busy.
Now, it’s about standards (among many other new regulations.) The United States uses US GAAP and most of the rest of the world uses IFRS. After this last meltdown in 2007, the world basically said to us, “If you want us to invest in US companies, you need to be on the same set of standards we are on.”
You guessed it, we’re busy again!
So how does this help accounts get into finance?
3 reasons there is great leverage here for Accountants to transition a finance job.
- These new regulations, compliances and convergences affect the whole organization and how the business runs. Having the basis of understanding of technical accounting policy, allows you to leverage your reengineering and strategy skill set to help the company conquer huge initiatives.
- Because of this new landscape, I have seen more and more VP level, Financial executive and CFO jobs require a CPA.
- The “foot in the door” factor is as good as it gets here. This is a CPA’s dream opportunity to leverage his or her public accounting, technical accounting policy experience to target their dream company. Once they get in the door, there are many opportunities to get involved in reengineering and strategy projects. Most great companies like to find talent from within. I see that a lot with corporate finance jobs.
The key to a successful career is having a plan. Nothing usually happens overnight so you must be patient but once you know what you want, set a course for your desired career path and make sure all your career moves are in line with your plan.
Dubin & Lee hosts “Policy Update” events with Deloitte in Boston, Massachusetts. If you are a Financial Executive and would like more information about our next Deloitte Update event, please request an invitation.
As we screen resumes for our clients' jobs, I sometimes come across a resume and ask myself,
“Why did he/she take one wrong job that seemed to suck the momentum out of their career path?”
When I have asked the candidate why they took that job instead of the plethora of choices of job opportunities they should have had at the time, 9 times out of 10, they say because,
"the job was offering more money."
Believe it or not, that’s it! Taking a job because it is offering more money is the Achilles heel to so many fast track professionals.
For your next career move,
keep these 3 things in mind when contemplating a job offer...
1. If a company is offering above market value, ask yourself honestly why. The best companies, offering the best long term career path don’t have to bribe for talent acquisition.
2. Salary is important but don’t be short-sided about your compensation aspirations. Figure out what you will be worth in 2, 5 or 10 years down the road with each opportunity you encounter. What is a 5k/yr difference now could be a 50k/yr difference in 10 years. Don’t be “penny wise and pound foolish.”
3. Don’t under estimate happiness. You will be more successful when you are happy. When we love what we do we tend to go the extra mile with passion and enthusiasm. That is a recipe for upward mobility!
True compensation optimization comes from making sure you take a job because of what it can do for your marketability. For more on that see Top 3 Ways to Get Job Security.
Make no mistake, your expenses only increase as life goes on. We must have a plan in place to account for our ever-increasing responsibilities as well as have a cushion for emergencies and retirement strategy. The irony is that a short-sided decision can sabotage the ability to have the greatest financial rewards for your profession.
Posted by:Saundra LeePresidentDubin & Lee
How do you know if it’s the right job for you?
Whether you have a new job offer on the table or you are wondering if your current job is the right job, there are several things you should consider. Job satisfaction is different for everyone so the first thing you need to do is understand what it means to you. It is important to know for yourself the combination of career upward mobility and work life balance you desire. From there, you need to make sure the path is doing take you where you want to go.
How do you know? It’s best to start with my
Top 5 on the job fit check list
- It’s a resume builder. There is no external job security anymore. Job security is built over time by making sure that every job is a resume builder. When you are analyzing the viability of a job, just make sure that no matter happens to that job or company, you will come out of it more marketable due to the experience you gained with that job.
- The company recognizes your results. If above average success at your job is important to you, it is imperative that you are in an environment that will recognize your results. I don’t mean a pat on the back and a heartfelt “atta-boy/girl.” I am referring to a real action plan for your outstanding achievements. Keep in mind, this could mean that you might have to make some extra effort to get your results noticed.
- Promises are delivered upon. Lip service is, unfortunately, all too common in some of even the best companies. Follow through on promises made can vary from person to person or manager to manager. I have seen two completely different experiences with two different managers within the same company.
- Room to grow. There are a few different ways to grow. In a large company, you can move up. In a smaller company, the job can grow as the company grows. If you are interested in changing careers, some company’s cultures are geared toward allowing employees to move into different areas of the company. This was made even more popular in corporate cultures by the book “Good to Great” by Jim Collins No matter the size of the company, it is important to make sure the company nurtures employee development.
- You are challenged. Many people would be very shocked to know that many companies are not even interested in the “been there, done that” candidate. Why! There is a certain enthusiasm that comes with someone coming into a new role where he/she will be learning and growing as well as using their prior experience. If you are truly determined to have a successful career, you will need to be intellectually stimulated. If a company is legitimately interested in having you around for the “long-term,” they know you will need this challenge now and throughout your future with the company. A note of caution: If the company does not seem interested in your long-term challenge, this is HUGE red-flag!
If you don’t count sleeping time, most of us spend more time at work than we do at home so the importance of job satisfaction is not to be underestimated. It takes 15 minutes of positivity to counteract 1 minute of negativity so if your work day is miserable, that can be a heavy burden on your family.
If you are not happy with your current job, don’t fret. The second you make up your mind to do something about it, happiness starts to come back!
Posted by:Saundra LeePresidentDubin & Lee
Send your resume to a company without telling you!
I guess today, I just wanted to vent about my biggest pet peeve in my industry...recruiting. Granted, I have worked for firms where that is what we were supposed to do but here is why it is wrong and I don’t allow it at my firm.
- If your resume is received by a company, from more than one source, you might be perceived as “desperate” or as they say in our industry “low hanging fruit.” Perception is the first obstacle you will always tackle. Also, if your resume is received multiple times by the same company it can make you appear unorganized.
- You need to be the central point of organization. Whether you are working with multiple recruiters or just have a few friends reaching out to their network, there needs to be a central list of who has your resume so NO duplications occur. YOU need to be the list keeper.
It is very important to keep and open mind so the idea is not to pre-judge a company or job before you speak to the hiring manager. I can’t tell you how many people I have placed in their ideal job that when they went in, they had no idea it would be. The idea is to maintain an image of “high hanging fruit.”
A Headhunter can be very useful to help you find your dream job or to bring your dream job to you when you least expect it. Sometimes you just never know when that ideal job will come up because statistically speaking, opportunities don't "knock" when…
- You need it
- When you are looking for a job
- When you are “not busy”
Just always make sure you keep organized.
Posted by: Saundra LeePresidentDubin & Lee