1. Set objectives
To gain promotion or improve your marketability, you need to acquire new skills and prove yourself in your role. Agree objectives with your manager, or set personal objectives yourself to develop the skills / competencies and to deliver the achievements that will enable you to progress to the next level. Agree timelines and support and start working on them. Once set, review your objectives regularly, using your manager for feedback, and keep checking that you’re on track to reach your next personal goal!
2. Be flexible
Constantly survey your situation and look for new opportunities to expand your horizons. Demonstrate your flexibility in order to gain exposure to these new opportunities, thereby developing new skills and / or gaining more experience. If chosen wisely, this will be invaluable in future career moves and can only enhance your prospects!
3. Be informed
More then ever, knowledge and information is power. So make sure you know what’s going on in the world. Identify the information that’s most useful to you day-to-day and restrict yourself to those sources – such as newspapers, magazines or websites – that keep you informed about your career and the sector you’re working in. To demonstrate commercial skills, you need to understand both the business you work for, and the world it operates in.
4. Take advice
No matter what our level or position, we all still have plenty to learn and the best way is from people who have experience and advice to offer. Be receptive and appreciative and, most importantly, don’t be afraid to try new ideas – only by trying something will you see if it works for you!
The old adage ‘It’s not what you know, but who you know’ may seem cynical, but it’s broadly true. As you move upwards in your career, being able to draw on contacts for advice and support becomes increasingly important. It also allows you to build a network for the future and enhances your reputation by demonstrating your competencies – so take your contacts seriously.
6. Manage your own PR
You are your greatest asset, so make the most of it. You want everyone to think of you as a splendid person, someone who they’d like to work with. So if you can do someone a favour, do it without thought of immediate reward because there may come a time when you need the favour returned. And remember the adage about not stepping on people on your way up… because they may step on you when you’re on your way down!
7. Manage your boss
Bosses are fallible, can be badly organised, poor communicators, find it hard to delegate and may be short on giving credit where it’s due. At least that’s the way they appear to many of their subordinates. So what do you do about it? You learn the subtle art of ‘upward management’. That’s where you manage your boss instead of letting them manage you all the time. Make sure they know all the good things you’ve done and the good things that you’re doing, contract in their support and manage the relationship. It’s a classic strategy for managers to achieve their objectives through their employees, but why shouldn’t it work the other way round?
8. Take advantage of training
This is the age of lifelong learning and most employers recognise that training is an investment in their business. But it is also an investment in you, so you should grab every opportunity to train, be it on a formal or informal basis. Be open to development and remember that you never stop learning.
9. Be prepared
You never know when a new opportunity may crop up, so make sure you’re ready for it. Keep your CV up-to-date because it’s your portable showcase for exhibiting who you are and what you have done. If you achieve an objective or get specific praise for a project, then record it – it could make the difference in getting a pay rise in your review, or gaining an interview!
10. Be pro-active
Try to think ahead and manage your career – don’t allow time to pass you by!
11. Focus your job search
Think about what motivates you, the environments you enjoy, the skills and experience you want to gain and the challenges you want to be involved in. Then work with your consultant to identify the companies that meet these requirements. Remember, people thrive in an environment they enjoy.
12. Don’t be afraid to think small
We work with a diverse range of clients and great careers can be built just as easily in an SME as in a FTSE 100. In a smaller company you will gain more exposure and be given challenges that will allow you to develop skills quickly, in a larger company you can build networks faster and draw on a wider range of resources – but both can offer an exiting career path.
13. Customise your job applications
Whilst it is labour intensive, it is important that each application is tailored to meet the specific requirements of each particular position or company – this also includes tailoring your CV. By working with your consultant, you can agree a range of skills and achievements that can be tailored to each application or be discussed on your behalf with a potential client.
14. Respond to job advertisements over a flexible salary range
Your objective should be to obtain as many face-to-face meetings as possible. Whilst the job you are being interviewed for may not be exactly right for you, the meeting may lead to other job opportunities or contacts, or at least provide you with valuable industry information.
15. Respond to advertisements within 7 days
Today’s market moves quickly and opportunities can disappear as quickly as they appeared. The best thing to do is pick up the phone and call the consultant or potential employer; this allows you to demonstrate your enthusiasm and communication skills and may give you some insight into what will make you stand out from other applicants. Then book a meeting or send in your CV – quickly!
16. Read the business pages of newspapers
You may identify potential job opportunities by reviewing the business pages for news of mergers, acquisitions and recent company developments. Most importantly, you’ll keep abreast of the market, a necessity in today’s commercial accounting world.
17. Ensure that your CV is a good advertisement
It should not merely be a list of your duties, but should highlight your achievements and indicate both the breadth and depth of your experience. Your qualifications and the details of your current or last job should be shown on the first page and the CV should not exceed 3 pages in length.
18. Do your homework before an interview
Nothing impresses an interviewer more than good preparation. Spend time reviewing the company’s website and, where possible, review financial statements and activity. Prepare questions to ask and be prepared for the interviewer’s questions.
19. Be positive
Always show great interest and enthusiasm about the job you’re being interviewed for. Let the interviewer know how keen you are to work for the company. Enthusiasm can sometimes make up for lacking exactly the right experience!
20. Consider temporary work
It will provide work experience and buy time until the right opportunity comes along. Also, many temporary jobs turn into full time positions. It is also worth looking at voluntary positions, particularly if the work will be helpful in the long term and allow access to potential employers.