Any senior accountant worth his or her salt knows there’s a lot more to building an exceptional career than understanding accounting and being able to present reports to senior management. Developing your executive career is about much more than that; you need to create a personal brand, with a shrewd understanding of your own worth on the job market. Much of this is about understanding what kind of accountant you are, and how to position yourself for others. However, it’s also about building a reputation and cultivating an extensive personal network. Here are five tips that can help you optimise your career development strategy.

1. Have a connected mindset

Increasingly essential in modern ultra-connected business dynamics, you need to be at a bare minimum competent at networking, or at least comfortable that it’s important. Ideally, you will have worked hard to be a sophisticated developer of mutually useful connections. There are more than a few accountants who smile ruefully and say ‘Networking makes me feel awkward’ or ‘I’m just not very good at selling myself’; what they’re doing here is stating that they have a glaring area of commercial weakness, without articulating the determination to put it right that they might include if they were describing an inability to use Excel, or count, for example. Developing the right attitude to this area is a crucial element that senior finance professionals who rise quickly have all typically mastered.

2. Soft Skills

If you’re one of the lucky people with inherent charm and charisma who can engage at all levels without effort, then great. If not, these interpersonal skills can be improved quite easily. A great first step is an executive coach from City CV who can give you feedback on presentation, body language and verbal communication, and help you to optimise the way you project yourself for particular contexts. Otherwise, try videoing yourself having a natural conversation with someone, or talking on the phone about work, particularly if it’s to senior management. Try looking at yourself as a stranger might – how do you come across? It might feel awkward, but this can be a liberating first step in self-awareness and personal professional development.

3. Know your skillset and USP

Having an understanding of what sets you apart from the competition is crucial. Going through a professional executive CV process with City CV revolves around identifying and effectively presenting your differentiators. What are you best at? Which of those skills are you better at than your peers and, crucially, can you demonstrate that USP with tangible achievements? Think about the things you’ve done at work of which you are most proud. What did you do well in order to make those things happen? Defining and articulating a focused set of skills is key.

4. LinkedIn

Once you’ve got these areas ironed out, you’re ready to create a great LinkedIn profile. Your best bet is to use City CV, whose consultants have an excellent understanding of how to write a powerful, persuasive LinkedIn summary that will help you attract recruiters and make new connections. Otherwise, do plenty of research on what works. Keep it succinct, make sure your photo is professional and use plenty of keywords. Connect with everyone you know – it never hurts to benefit from compound connections, and large numbers of connections make you look like a good networker.

5. Make professional applications

When you are approaching recruiters or senior contacts at target companies, or if you’re making direct job applications, make sure you have a good executive CV with a well-written cover letter or email. Again, City CV can help you with this. If you’re writing your own, spend plenty of time finding out what best practice approaches are. Keep it on two pages, make it achievement-focused and make sure the CV highlights the skills you have that are targeted precisely for the type of accounting role you want.

City CV is ideally placed to help you move your accounting career to the next level. As 2015 winners in the Accounting category in the international CV writing awards, you can utilise our expertise and writing talent to position you where you want to be. Call us on +44 20 7100 6656 or email enquiries@citycv.co.uk for more information.

Image courtesy of Danillo Rizzuti at www.freedigitalphotos.net/

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