There’s no foolproof, surefire recipe for success. Everybody’s path is different.
However, as a leading accounting and finance recruitment agency, our recruiters often have front row seats to witness many accounting professionals grow and thrive in their careers.
While there may not be a black and white, blanket formula for achieving career success, there are undoubtedly a few common threads shared between the people who grow into becoming highly successful CPA’s.
So, whether you’re just getting started on your career journey or you’re an experienced CPA looking to advance your career, you’ll want to take note of these 12 qualities that all highly successful CPA’s possess.
1. They Have a Career Vision
Success doesn’t come without a plan—and CPA’s who achieve major advancement in their careers realize this.
Early on, they map out their career aspirations and outline the stepping stones and requirements necessary to reach them.
Rather than concerning themselves with title, status, or a huge paycheck, they channel their energy and efforts into learning the skills they’ll need to reach their career goals further down the line. To put it simply, highly successful CPA’s understand the concept of short-term sacrifices for long-term gain.
2. They Prioritize Growth Opportunities
Accounting professionals who are eager to continue climbing the corporate ladder recognize the importance of finding an employer who will allow them to grow and thrive.
This means that they do their research in order to join the ranks of companies who have consistent track records of growth for their employees—meaning they frequently promote from within—and also offer professional development opportunities as a key pillar of their culture.
3. They Seek Suitable Bosses and Mentors
CPA’s who are high achievers recognize the undeniable value of a solid mentor. Whether professional or personal, they surround themselves with trustworthy people that they can bounce ideas off of in order to consider innovative solutions and resolve problems.
“Having good mentors with the same career mindset as them aids in forming good relationships that in turn foster quicker growth,” adds Alex Barker, CPA, CA, and Partner at The Mason Group.
4. They Find the Right Fit
Accountants are logical by nature. Needless to say, they thrive best in organizations that are also run by logical principles. Not every company approaches growth the same way, and career achievers know to interview an employer—just as much as they’re being interviewed themselves.
For example, highly successful CPA’s know the importance of asking in-depth questions about a company’s long-term plans and educational pursuits to ensure they’re joining an organization that has an eye toward the future—and not just tomorrow.
Climbing on-board with a company that’s growing is usually an indicator that employees will grow with it.
5. They Play Fair
Career growth can be cutthroat. But, highly rated CPA’s don’t fall into that trap. Instead, they live and breathe the philosophy of, “Treat others the way you want to be treated.”
They never seek to grow themselves at the expense of another person or the company as a whole. And, once they reach a leadership position, they turn around and pay it forward to ensure that others have that same opportunity to develop into solid leaders themselves.
They understand that positivity breeds positivity.
6. They Have Grit
To pursue career progression, successful CPA’s are not afraid to try new things. They take risks.
Of course, sometimes they may fail. But, if and when that happens, they dust themselves off and jump right back on their feet. Rather than viewing failure as the be-all and end-all, they see it as a valuable learning experience they can utilize to launch even further growth.
7. They Don’t Shy Away From Hard Work
If you’re aiming for growth both professionally and personally, you can’t hesitate to roll up your sleeves and get down to it—and in demand CPA’s know this very well.
“They are eager and willing to go the extra mile,” explains Jeff Horowitz, Partner at The Mason Group. “They work hard and are more concerned with what they will learn and add to their skill set instead of focusing on how much work a project or potential new role might involve.”
“Essentially, they seek to add more value than they financially cost the organization. And, that’s the type of CPA who’s going to go far,” adds Mitch Goldstein, President at The Mason Group.
8. They are Great Networkers
You’ve probably heard that old saying, “Your network is your net worth.” And, those who really take their careers to the next level believe this to be true.
Whether it’s friends and family, past and current colleagues, acquaintances from community organizations, or recruiters, successful CPA’s not only network, but they also ensure their circle of contacts is keenly aware of their growth aspirations. They realize that the more people they share their career goals with, the quicker those milestones might be achieved.
9. They Never Stop Learning
Accounting professionals who continue making forward progress in their careers are always learning—they’re never done.
“They continue to better themselves with professional development and further education,” says Katherine Marr, CPA, CA, and Director, Permanent Search – Toronto at The Mason Group, “Whether it’s the CFA, CBV, MBA, an online financial modeling course, or anything relevant to their career, they are always looking for a competitive advantage for their next step.”
10. They Are Respectful
Successful CPA’s never forget the basics—respect and polite manners.
Writing a thank you note after a meeting or interview, being conscious of someone else’s time during networking functions, and remembering specific details about people they’ve met are all seemingly small actions that can have an incredibly large impact on their professional reputation and their ultimate success.
11. They Give Back
Volunteering is not only an awesome way to give back to your own community, but it also offers benefits when it comes to achieving career advancement.
“It’s a great conversation starter in an interview, and it expands your personal and professional network throughout your career,” shares Marr.
12. They Dress For Success
While it may sound vain, if you’re aiming for success in your career, you need to dress the part. A professional and polished appearance will go a long way in making a strong, positive impression on everyone you meet.
Don’t dress for the job you have—dress for the job you want.