As a fresh-faced young accountant there are many career paths open to you. How do you want your professional career to develop? And how do you expect to be able to make those ambitions a reality?
The first few years after qualification often have a marked impact on the duration of a career. Wasting your twenties can mean having to start again in your 30s, to compensate for mistakes and missed opportunities. Making good decisions about your career during your first few years of employment is key to embarking on a successful career path.
A career in accountancy on audit is anchored by qualification, and it’s often not enough to simply pass, as a wealth of good candidates for audit positions mean that individual grades as well as attitude, commitment and enthusiasm also play a crucial role in which candidate is hired. Qualifications are particularly important for career in auditing and accountancy.
Arguably the first decision on your career path is the most difficult. Newly qualified candidates can go in a number of directions, but try not to worry about ruining your career. If you don’t have a clear idea about how you expect or hope your career to progress, then don’t feel scared about going for a position and just seeing how you do. The experience and insight you will gain will give you more knowledge of the industry, helping you to make informed decisions about your development.
Once you have experience in auditing and accountancy you can begin to decide which parts of the role you enjoy and which you do not. Some candidates find that they enjoy nothing about accountancy, often studying it simply because of the promise of generous remuneration. While it is a shame not to embark on a career in accountancy after receiving qualification, this knowledge is also valued and applicable in a range of other industries and job roles. Too many people feel hemmed into a career they don’t enjoy simply because of their qualifications.
The main choice that faces fresh accountants is whether to work in practice or industry. It is generally thought that candidates should try to hold on to and make a success of their first job in accountancy. A nice long tenure with the same employer makes a good start to a professional CV especially if candidates can thrive in the business.
Internal audit jobs are a good start in business, and present a great opportunity for individuals to gain extensive experience. That’s not to say that external audit jobs aren’t a great opportunity, but internal auditing roles represent the traditional route to the top of large organisations, and tend to impart more of the skills which employers value and trust than external auditor positions. Some new accountants make the mistake of jumping from job to job purely based on pay. Employers are likely to take a dismissive view on those who do not stick at a particular job for a significant period of time.
Instead of hop-scotching from job to job in an attempt to climb the career ladder, consider an international secondment. When you are young and have a fewer commitments a stay abroad is easier to commit to. Secondments can offer an opportunity to take part in new activities and develop skills.
Qualifications, all-round experience and language are all skills which will entice employers. Every individual finds a different route to success, but often knuckling down in a tough job is the only way to give yourself the best possible chance in the future.