I had the pleasure of sitting in on a few of the staff evaluations conducted in May and June. It confirmed what I already know: we have many talented, great people working at WithumSmith+Brown in all of our departments –professional staff, administrative support, finance, HR, Marketing and IT.
Our people also have great ambition with a desire to build satisfying life-long careers. We are well aware that opportunities outside of the firm are continually being presented to our staff. However, we want to take this time to remind you that there is much offered here at Withum in terms of leadership opportunities and compelling career paths. When I came to our firm in 1980, I expected to stay five years as part of my own professional development plan, and then move on elsewhere. But what I discovered was that the best long-term plan was to stay right here at our firm. Throughout my career, I received many calls from recruiters and offers from clients to join them. But after careful consideration of each opportunity, I decided to remain with Withum. And on many levels – intellectually, professionally and financially – that consistently reaffirmed decision to stay has paid off. Now granted, we are a different firm compared to when I was making these decisions. But in many ways, the career opportunities offered today are even greater. We are a growing, thriving firm in an intellectually stimulating profession, and the long-term financial rewards can be significant.
In the spirit of professional growth and opportunity, we want to share a list we put together of “Top 10 Ways to Get You Moving Up the Withum Ladder”:
- Feel confident and know every aspect of the position you have now. Always ask questions when you aren’t sure how to do something. Performing your current role 110% makes you an asset to your team and the firm we always need to remember to provide value to our firm and clients.
- Find out everything you can about the roles and responsibilities associated with the next level of advancement you want to achieve. Feel free to ask your Career Coach (see #4), PIC or department leader on what is expected of you in order to move up to the next level. Then ask yourself if what you are doing is helping you stay on the path to that promotion. A rule of thumb we like to offer is that you should walk-the-walk of the next level to get that promotion you want.
- Be a team player. Because so much of our work is accomplished through teams – departmental, niche or cross-functional – it becomes even more important to share successes with your team and to avoid pointing your finger when there are failures. By being a team player, you build a positive reputation and increase your value to the firm. Always share credit when things go well and take the blame when they don’t.
- Cultivate a relationship with a mentor. One recent study found that in four out of five promotions, those promoted had a mentoring relationship with someone higher in their company who helped spread the good word about them. We have formed a successful Career Coach Program to encourage the professional development of our accounting staff. If you do not have a Career Coach, please speak with your PIC or department leader about having one assigned to you.
- Go above and beyond the call of duty. Be known as being willing to take on extra tasks when asked. Many times people make the mistake of just trying to fulfill their current job requirements. If you want to move up, you need to perform the tasks necessary for the NEXT level.
- Keep a positive outlook on things, even when in tough situations. Remember, enthusiasm for the job is infectious, and a smile and a pleasant attitude can work wonders. Keep in mind “life is good” at all times. Read the Dale Carnegie book, How to Win Friends and Influence People; this will help you put work and career challenges in perspective.
- Be punctual, reliable and accessible. It is a very good thing when a partner calls or e-mails you with a question, and you are there to respond right away. Always show up to meetings 10-15 minutes in advance and call into conference calls 5 minutes in advance.
- Join one of our Industry or Service niches. There’s no better way to build your personal brand as a thought leader and a professional – both inside and outside of the firm – than by getting involved with one (or two max) niche groups. Take advantage of the many networking and education opportunities the niches present by attending internal development meetings, industry conferences and networking events, or by joining a committee. We understand that these events sometimes take place outside of normal business hours, but they create tremendous opportunities for you to grow in your career and expand your business network. Participating in these activities helps to convert your efforts from “doing your job” to “building your career.”
- Join a board or committee of a community-based or professional organization. Part of our mission is to give back to the communities we serve and to support our profession. We strongly encourage our staff to get involved in both areas. This is also a great way to expand your network.
- Take all training opportunities offered and stay informed. It goes without saying that one of the best ways to succeed in being promoted is to expand your knowledge and skill sets in areas that are critical to our profession. As laws and regulations – and even technology – change rapidly, you need an ever-increasing skill set to perform your job. Attend the CPE programs we offer (pay attention while there) and keep apprised of accounting profession news by reading publications such as Accounting Today and NJ CPA, in addition to mainstream business news.
We want you to build your career at our firm and be able to look back on a long, satisfying, successful journey with us as many of our partners have the gratification of being able to do.
I hope you found this information useful. Following these suggestions will put you in a position of strength when being considered for future advancement at the firm, and help us all to build a better firm for the future.
Remember, we look for everyone (including myself) to provide value to the firm every day.