When you first went to work for your firm, it was pretty cool. You, your friends, and family were excited about your new job as you were meeting new people, learning new things, making a difference, and probably making more money than you ever had before.
But now you’re ready for something new where you can really make an impact. And you’re probably starting to wonder how to make the jump to the next level in your career. For some it may mean a big promotion, moving to a new role in a different department, or even working for a new company in a different industry.
If this sounds familiar, keep this in mind: None of those things are going to happen by themselves. There are big opportunities out there, but are you ready to take full advantage of them? If you want to climb the professional ladder, you may need some help.
How to Seize Your Next Opportunity
No matter how badly you want that new job or a big promotion, desire alone won’t deliver it. Here are four key factors to evaluate as you prepare to grab your next big opportunity.
1. Your work environment. The best career opportunities are likely to be in companies that are growing or have the potential for rapid growth. Ask yourself: Is your company the next Facebook, or is it more like the Yellow Pages?
If it’s the latter, you may need to look somewhere else for new prospects. If you’re already working for a progressive, growing firm – many accounting firms are – ask yourself if you have the credentials needed to grow with it.
2. Your track record. Do an honest, objective assessment of your work track record. Consider these factors:
Have you embraced opportunities to take on new challenges and let your skills shine?
What projects or initiatives have you supported and participated in?
Do you regularly showcase deep knowledge and skills?
Is there someone – a boss, former manager, or senior executive – who will vouch for you on these key qualities?
If you don’t have good answers to these questions, you may need to seek out opportunities to use your skills to stand out. Do you have what you need to pull that off?
3. Your network. Who you know can be just as important as what you know. A strong professional network can alert you to new opportunities, provide you with insider guidance and advice, and help get you past gatekeepers and reach the real decision makers. You should always be cultivating your network – even when you think you don’t need it – so it’s there when you do.
4. Your skills and knowledge. What’s your business IQ? You can test yourself here. Bottom line: You’ve got to have in-demand skills or knowledge that differentiates you from other job candidates.
Having specific technical skills in areas such as finance, negotiations, and budgeting will improve your job prospects. Even if you’re already an expert in a particular area of business – logistics or accounting, for example – you may not have the credentials required to truly compete for that next big job role. Ask yourself: Do I really have what it’s going to take to move to the next level?
If your resume could benefit from additional skills, deeper knowledge, or advanced professional credentials, like a CPA designation, it might be time to consider a Master of Accounting degree. While a master’s degree is a big commitment, it can have a huge impact on your career. Higher education will expand your professional network and can help you make the jump to a new role, a new level, or even a new firm.
Meet Leanne Fredericks, Bank of North Carolina’s vice president of balance sheet strategy. Learn how she leverages her Master of Accounting degree and why the online format was the perfect choice to help her balance work, school, and life.