The 12 Best Career Tips for Right Now

How to get going before busy season. What’s your best career advice? E-mail your tip to me here.

January 22, 2009
by Rick Telberg/On Careers

Busy season starts mid-February, so CPAs and other finance professionals have just a limited time to get their 2009 job hunt into gear.

What should you be doing right now — in this difficult economy and right before busy season — to best position yourself for new career opportunities? I canvassed a few hundred of my closest friends on LinkedIn and received a dozen ideas from eight very smart people.

Here's your action plan for the next 30 days:

  1. Update your resume. And don't forget to clean up your FaceBook, MySpace, Plaxo and LinkedIn entries.

    The adage goes: The best time to build your network is when you don't need to. I discovered this myself VERY recently. I started working to build my network about two months ago. Yesterday, I (as well as several other employees at my company) was laid off without any indication that layoffs were pending. Luckily, my company gave a nice severance package. However, not every company will be so generous.

    - Christy J. Nicholas
    Newly self-employed
  2. Brush up your skills.

    One of the more important things is to make sure your education is up to date. CPE is great, but not everyone uses it to the full potential. Current tax updates, trends and changes in the compliance environment, new items such as IFRS, these are all aspects that someone who has been comfortable in the same place for several years may not have kept abreast of.

    - Nicholas
  3. Get up-to-date on IFRS and XBRL.

    I agree with Christy's suggestions. Also, IFRS and XBRL will be the hot topics this year. See what information you can find on IFRS and read about it. Learn more about what public companies need to do to comply with SEC regulations for mandatory XBRL filing.

    - Krishna (Chaitanya) Mandava
    Information Technology Consultant
    Joseph Eve CPAs
  4. Build a book of business.

    The way to become secure and to remain secure in a CPA firm is tied to revenue. Market, market, market. Win and keep clients that are yours, that you found, nurtured and closed. The more money that can be tied directly to you and your efforts, the safer your job.

    - Michael Garibaldi
    Fuor Digital
  5. Connect, and do it every day.

    Take time to make a call to at least one important person everyday. It could be a client, a fellow CPA or a professional in the industry who you have met — but schedule the time and make it happen.

    - Sandra Wiley,
    Boomer Consulting
  6. Work so hard it shows.

    Work harder than you have ever worked to do your job technically well. Now is NOT the time to slack. Employers are looking at the people that are the best performers, and you want to be at the top of the list, not at the bottom.

    - Wiley
  7. This is no time for slackers.

    Fine tune your work ethic. No matter what has been said about generational differences and the "new aspects of how we work" the bottom line is that you still need to follow the golden rules that include:

    • Be on time.
    • Do what you say you will do.
    • Say please and thank you.
    • Deliver early.

    - Wiley
  8. Look to your clients for opportunities.

    All of the above, especially contacting people you know at companies that you might be interested in. Also, if you are in public accounting you may wish to monitor how your clients are doing and what industries are doing the best.

    - Russell North
    North Business Services
  9. Do what accountants do best.

    CPAs have an unprecedented opportunity to grow their practice by attracting new clients. In difficult times business owners are looking to leaders and confident advisors. The CPAs that can provide real advisory services and help prospective clients focus on the fundamentals of their business will win customers from CPAs who are not providing these services. It is time that business owners work and think “in their BOX” and as the fad of thinking “Out of the Box” is over!

    - Drew White
    Sageworks Inc.
  10. Watch out for the next bubble.

    Finance professionals and specifically bankers need to get back to the discipline of understanding the fundamentals of a businesses cash-flow, this is how lending and investing will be done profitably in the near future. Lenders can no longer rely on increasing asset prices to support a lack of true cash-flow analysis. Investors can not rely on hype or trends to move their share prices; it will be the well run, fundamentally strong companies that will win in this environment. My prediction is that the next bubble will be in alternative energy stocks in 2011.

    - White
  11. Be careful with your resume.

    They should NOT over-saturate the market with their resume. If they send it out on their own to everyone they can think of and then find a decent recruiter — the recruiter has his/her hands tied and can't help them.

    - Kimberly McLaren
  12. Contact a recruiter.

    Let them know you are looking, so they can look for you while not compromising your privacy.

    - Phil Parkinson
    Tax Senior
    Big Four firm

Now it's your turn. What can CPAs do to best position themselves for new opportunities in this difficult economy? E-mail me with your best career advice here. And join me on LinkedIn.

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