The term “career security” may sound like an oxymoron in today’s world of work. Understandably so. After all, few people expect lifelong commitments from employers anymore.
But even if an employer can’t be counted on to offer stability, accounting and finance professionals can take certain actions to create their own safety net. Here are three things you can do to obtain greater career security and peace of mind:
1. Wear multiple hats
Being able to boast a versatile skill set is a big plus. Companies place a premium on professionals who can perform multiple roles — for instance, a controller who can also assume accounts payable duties is likely to be perceived as more valuable than someone who can only perform one job function.
A Robert Half survey of 500 hiring managers underscored this point. Asked which characteristics best described the ideal new hire — aside from having the basic job qualifications — the top response was a multitasker who thrives on a variety of projects.
Can you boast a broad repertoire of skills? If so, make sure you highlight your multitasking abilities as you look for your next position or seek to enhance your standing with your current employer.
On the other hand, if you feel you need to round out your skills, and you’re currently employed, ask your boss about cross-training opportunities, which are often encouraged in accounting and finance departments. Maybe you can even take on a colleague’s duties while he or she is on vacation or a leave of absence.
If you’re job seeking, be open to roles that may be viewed as a step backward in pay or prestige but will allow you to hone your skills in a new area. Whatever your current employment situation, think a job or two ahead. Envision what you hope to be doing and consider whether there are complementary skills you could acquire that would make you more marketable in the long run.
2. Really network
Everyone knows networking is essential to career advancement, but many people aren’t willing to truly engage with their professional contacts. More and more, technology is taking the place of face-to-face interactions. And while different forms of online networking are becoming necessary tools in today’s professional world, it’s important for ambitious professionals to avoid hiding behind technology.
As more professionals look to advance their careers by playing a networking numbers game — e.g., simply amassing contacts — you can stand out by cultivating real connections with people in your network. If people are going to open doors for you and put their reputations on the line by recommending you, they need to feel comfortable with you. This requires a personal connection that is best developed through face-to-face interactions.
3. Keep learning
It can be difficult to make time for training and development activities. But by doing so, you’ll be taking a critical step toward greater career security. After all, who is more valued: the person who has a skill that no one else in the office has or the individual who’s failed to keep pace with professional developments?
In addition to staying up-to-date on any continuing professional education requirements of your current role, explore other ways to make yourself more marketable. For instance, if you’ve yet to earn your certified public accountant designation, this would almost certainly enhance your professional prospects. Or perhaps consider taking courses to become certified with Microsoft Excel or Access. Study the backgrounds of those in positions you aspire to and seek their advice to determine where your time and effort is best invested.
By Robert Half International