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5 Tips to Propel Your Public Accounting Career

Career Move Tips for CPAs and Tax Pros


Now that we’re more than a year into the pandemic, the economy is on the upswing, tax season has come to a close and many accounting professionals may be ready to search for their next opportunity.  

Jun 1st 2021
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Given the new landscape, CPAs and other tax professionals may ask what steps can you take to grow your career and land your next opportunity.

Now that we’re more than a year into the pandemic, tax season has (finally) come to a close, the economy is on the upswing and many accounting professionals may be ready to search for their next opportunity. Here are a few ways CPAs and tax pros can plan their next move.

Education is Key

It may seem basic, but education and attaining credentials go a long way in the accounting profession. Those aspiring to explore a new role should consider the education and certification requirements of their chosen path.

For many professionals, getting their CPA license is a goal and part of the natural career progression. Obtaining this certification can qualify you for many different career opportunities, from within an accounting firm to leading a business across industries, as well as to help you stand out to employers and industry recruiters.

Depending on your long-term goals, you might consider the CMA (Certified Management Accountant), a global certification for management accountants and finance professionals, or working towards your CGFM (Certified Government Financial Manager), a professional certification awarded by the Association of Government Accountants (AGA) that demonstrates competency in skills like governmental accounting at the federal, state, and local levels. Not only do additional certifications give you an advantage on other job applicants but pursuing them ensures that you’re consistently up to date on the latest information and increases your knowledge base.

And the education doesn’t stop there. In today’s job market, a huge differentiator is knowledge of the latest technology, including the cloud, AI and automation, and practical applications for your role. More and more companies are adopting these technologies and weaving them into everyday processes.

 As a result, the need to upskill or reskill has dramatically accelerated. By getting ahead and educating yourself on these hard skills like data analysis and ERP adeptness, it’s possible to stand out among a sea of applicants.

Attend Events (Virtually)

Prior to COVID-19, it may not have been feasible to attend an event or conference, due to cost or lack of time travel. This meant that there were fewer opportunities for less experienced or more junior associates to grow and network with industry thought leaders.

Today, attending events looks a little different. In lieu of traditional conferences, many organizations have switched to virtual platforms – making professional development or networking opportunities more accessible for many. By signing up and learning from thought-provoking industry executives, you can gain insights on the future of the industry and what companies are looking for in the leaders of tomorrow.

Attending virtual events is also a great way to network with peers. Many conferences offer scheduled breakout rooms, giving you the opportunity to engage and participate in discussions with peers and industry leaders. Topics may vary, but sharing your insights and ideas could position you as an expert.

Another way to network virtually is to be active on social media. Consider posting your thoughts and what you hope to experience at the event, using specific hashtags and posting on the event page or your own social media channels. By doing so, you have the ability to spark great conversation with other potential attendees and industry peers and to build your own professional network.

After the event takes place, you can also share lessons learned – this could take the form of a social media post or written article that can be shared on platforms like LinkedIn. There is also an opportunity to share your learnings with members of your firm, which with further exemplify your leadership skills.

Continuing To Develop Your Leadership Role With EQ

Many companies have changed the way they hire and onboard employees because of COVID-19. Prior to the pandemic, leaders may have only been assessed by their hard skills, like developing efficient financial reporting methods. But now the leadership profile has taken a turn, focusing on behavior training and a high emotional intelligence (EQ).

In order to take the next step in your career, it’s critical to focus on your emotional intelligence. Leaders in today’s climate need to be able to better connect with teams and employees, as many people want to work in a place where they feel safe.

When looking for a new career or position, you should be prepared to discuss specific moments in time that highlight instances when EQ and ability to connect with others helped move a situation forward.

While this is a skill that’s typically intrinsic, it is possible to develop your EQ through behavior training, practicing self-awareness and actively listening. Today, these are the skills that matter most in the workplace.


While many employers provide professional development and training resources to their employees, it is important that you take your future into your own hands. Immersing yourself in outside learning opportunities, like virtual events, and continuing to educate yourself on the industry and necessary skill sets relevant to today’s times are critical to advancing your career.

When looking to take that next step, make sure you show recruiters your efficiency in hard skills – like those that come with certifications – and knowledge of technology. Second, but equally as important, show them the soft skills that make you stand out from other applicants – like your willingness to stand up and share lessons learned and the ability to connect with fellow employees at all levels.

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