10 Essential Steps to Guarantee Your Public Accounting Promotion [VIDEO]

Business Man Businessman in Line Behind Business Women

How can we do things quicker and better than we’re expected to?

“Do what others don’t do.” – Unknown


This post does not cover the basic requirements for being promoted at companies, such as passing required trainings or obtaining a CPA, CISA, CIA, or other license. It should also be mentioned that this advice can’t be taken individually, it must be taken in the aggregate. While you may get away with only doing seven, eight, or nine of the ten steps listed below, you certainly won’t get away with only doing two.

LEARN: All the Steps You Need to Take to Become A Licensed CPA

I must also qualify that this is only in my experience and what I have seen others do. It may not work for everyone, but if you implement all ten steps below and don’t obtain your goal, you are the exception, not the rule.

I will say that this advice won’t work in certain industries. While I have never worked in not-for-profit or governmental entities, I have heard that they have more of a “the nail that sticks up must be hammered down culture,” in which case, leave this page immediately because implementing these steps may cause co-worker and employer hostility.

Here we go…

  1. Ask before you speak: It’s not what you think 😉
  2. Walk around the office once a week: You may not meet or run into anyone the first week, but stick with it and you eventually will. Ask those whom you meet what’s going on in their lives or how it’s going with a company event or project that’s coming up. If you’re looking to break out from the rest and be different from the norm, you need to build consensus that you are ready. Frequent touch points with as many people as possible are crucial.
  3. Be in charge of an event: Make sure you can handle it! I also mention in the podcast that it needs to be something you know you won’t fail at–something in which you can only look good for pulling off! A few ideas I have used that work are listed below. Remember to invite spouses and children if possible. It doesn’t have to be “company sponsored,” just make it happen!
    • Rock climbing
    • Canoeing
    • Game night at a bar
    • Poker nights
  4. Get in a room with people who matter and tell them your goals: You may have done everything right, but if you haven’t addressed the risk of “veto” then your dreams may come short. Figure out which people have the power to hold you back from accomplishing what you want. In a friendly and forward way, ask for their feedback on your goals and on what’s important to you. Once they tell you what you need to do to make that promotion, BOOM, you can see the list, now it’s time to start checking off each item!
    • HR
    • Direct Supervisor
    • Chief Decision Maker (generally, top person in the office or division)
  5. Create a list early: Once you have had these meetings, make a list. Start writing down all the things you need to accomplish: be a part of three recruiting events, join a special project (proposal, rotations to another department, etc), do two community service events, attend three additional trainings, teach an additional training, hold three non-company socials at your house or off-site, and on and on and on…
  6. Ask for formal feedback at least twice a week: While this sounds like it can get annoying, it doesn’t have to be that way. Find a time when you are alone with one of those people who matter, whether it’s when you’re walking to your car at the end of the day, going out to lunch, or just sitting in a room for a few minutes, and say: “Hey *Sally*, do you have a few minutes? I’d like to ask you a few questions.Sally: “Sure!” You: “I know we spoke a few weeks ago about some things I could do better, like X… and X… and X…, and I wanted to see how you think I have been progressing, relative to my goals (getting promoted, as you probably previously discussed with her) and the feedback you gave me.”BAM! The stage is set and here comes the feedback. Make sure that before you ask for this feedback you have done actionable things to address Sally’s comments and that Sally is aware of the steps you have taken.
  7. Ask for special projects: If you can add one or two “special projects” that are related to the work you do (for example, working on a tax proposal), rather than things not related to work, like community service or socials, this will make your company resume MUCH stronger than anyone else who just did the “frilly things” (note: frilly means things not related to work, not the urban dictionary definition, which is quite strange). A few common examples of things you can do are:
    • Proposals
    • Rotations to other departments
    • Travel to other locations
  8. Ask people about themselves: This ties into the #1 rule. People love to talk about themselves and, as unfortunate as it is, they don’t like to hear about you. Make a point to *actively listen* and *remain engaged* in what they are saying, even if it does not happen to be interesting, like their cousin’s nail fungus or [insert strange family problem people talk about when they shouldn’t but still do and it’s really awkward but funny later].
    • Family
    • Weekend
    • Hobbies
    • Boyfriend/girlfriend
    • Kids
  9. Get in early every day: While many of you don’t like to hear this, getting in 30 minutes, an hour or two hours earlier than everyone else will set you apart. Have a look at this article from business insider. Now, while I think 4:30am may be a little early, 7:00am is not.
  10. Create a summary of contributions: If you would like a copy of my summary of contributions, feel free to email me at andrew@thebeancounter.org. I’m happy to give it out! This should really summarize your end of year or end of period value proposition. Add pictures, make it colorful. Most likely nobody will read it, but a three to five page colorful document of all your accomplishments which were *all in addition to what was required*  will help show that you are ready for the next level. Put people in a position where they can’t say no: If you have asked what the expectations are from the beginning, have met those expectations, and have gotten feedback, on an individual basis, every two weeks you have worked, they CANNOT say no. Please reach out to me with your questions, and stories, as always!

P.S.  Check out my recent webinar “How to Guarantee Your Public Accounting Promotion.

The slides were cut-off in the video, so you can follow along below:

  • Rebecca Gutherz

    What do you mean by the softer sex???

    • http://www.thebeancounter.com TheBeanCountercom

      While I wish more women would play poker, they just never showed up for the games!

      • Rebecca Gutherz

        So why not say invite women. I am thinking part of the reason they do not show up is because you call them the softer sex.

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