Are You Looking To Get Promoted In Public Accounting?


Are you looking to get promoted? Many of you have just started your career in public accounting. September and October are two of the biggest starting months of the year.

When I started my career at PwC, it was three years until you got promoted to Senior Associate. I did it in two.

Often times I get asked, “What did you do?” My success can probably be summed up with one quote:

“Do what others don’t do.” – Unknown

I didn’t:

  • Work the most hours
  • Kiss up to every manager I worked for
  • Do whatever I was told
  • Pick up dry cleaning (this does happen)

I did things that showed I was:

  • Independent
  • Thinking about my work, not just doing it
  • Skeptical of my clients and managers in a productive manner
  • Dependable (this is huge)
  • Mature and could relate to clients
While there are many specifics things you can do, which I’ve detail in a podcast and blog post called: “How to get promoted in public accounting (10 steps)“, it’s more important that you learn the behaviors you need to display above, not just copy the 10 or 15 different things I did.Many young hires are mistaken into thinking that everyone they work for is smarter than them and you should follow their lead as they are….. your superior.While you won’t score brownie points for raging against the man for the sake of it, one of the biggest mistakes you can make for yourself and the firm is not standing up for yourself.

The third client I worked on I absolutely hated. I didn’t like the industry, the work location, and the team culture. For example, they were the kind of people that would get into the office around 10:30am and leave around 11pm.

That’s NOT me.

I’m in by 7, out by 7. My life is important to me too!

I remember going to lunch with a friend at Chipotle. I said, “Dude, I know I’ve only been working here for 6 months, but if I can’t switch clients I may quit in the next few weeks”.

So I peddled over to HR and my PwC career coach and told them of my situation:

“I love working at the firm. The first two clients I worked on were amazing and I really enjoyed the team, industry, and the things I’ve learned. It has really gotten me excited about the future of working at PwC.

That being said, I just don’t feel that I fit in on my current team. I don’t like the industry, work hours, and I wouldn’t prefer coming back next year. I’m not miserable or anything, but I’m nervous about having to stay on this client for 6 months, which is what I’m scheduled for. While I don’t want to jeopardize the team, or the clients expectations, what do you suggest I do to make things better, or move to another team at some point?”

A few weeks later, I was off the team and onto my favorite engagement of my entire career!

Once I was happy on my new team, I was more productive than ever!

If I wouldn’t have stood up for myself and asked for an exception, I may never have received the promotion I wanted. Heck, I may have quit after 6 months!

Nobody wants to promote a miserable mope, which is exactly what I would’ve become.

The quickest way to get promoted is to set goals, stand up for yourself, be dependable, productive, and work SMART.

If you’re goal has just been to “work late, charge eight”. Good luck. Charging less hours to the client than you work isn’t refreshing, isn’t new, and isn’t unique. You’ll be moving along with the rest of the herd.