Monday Management Minute: Time for a Career Assessment?

Accounting and finance managers are frequently under pressure, and over time, responding to fire drill after fire drill can become tiresome. Lately, you’ve found yourself staring out the window — or at the clock — wishing you were somewhere else other than at work. You wonder, “Do I need to change jobs?” Possibly. But before you make a decision, you should conduct a thorough career assessment.

Naturally, if you’re feeling bored or frustrated at work, your initial impulse may be to look for a new job. However, rushing to grab onto something else just because it’s different may mean walking away from untapped opportunities at your current company.

To determine the next best step to take in your accounting and finance career, ask yourself these questions:

  • How did I get here? Looking at the past can help you set the right course for the future. What drew you to your current position? Did you view it as a growth opportunity? Was it the compensation? Next, try to pinpoint when and why you started to lose enthusiasm for your job. You may find it’s not one thing, but a combination of circumstances and events.
  • What would I change? After reflecting on your past steps, and identifying what is leaving you feeling unfulfilled, think about what you would change about your current situation if you could. Would you prefer to have a more flexible schedule? Do you feel you should be earning more? Starting with your first response (gut reactions are often most important), make a list of three to five things you believe would make a difference in your job satisfaction.
  • Are my expectations realistic? Of the things you’d like to change or improve, how many do you think your boss would be receptive to? Try to hone in on one or two changes that could have a big impact in the short term, and would be easy for your employer to accommodate. For instance, maybe two of the items on your list are “Identify strategies to grow profits” and “Secure a promotion.” If you focus on the first goal, it could help you to achieve the other.
  • How would I rate my abilities? As part of your career assessment, identify skills gaps that may be holding you back. For example, do you need to earn a new certification to reach the next level or take a different direction? What about interpersonal skills, which are increasingly important for accounting and finance professionals to possess — are they as strong as they could be?  To avoid suffering from your own biases — positive or negative — ask a mentor for his or her thoughts on areas you need to develop.

How do I envision my future?

During this time of reflection, consider your long-term career goals. Think about where you want to be not just today, but one, two, five and even 10 years in the future. This can help you decide whether it’s time to make an even more significant change in your career direction. It also will help you establish criteria for a new job and focus on what it will take to obtain it. 

After you complete your career assessment, you may find you don’t want to leave your current position at all. Don’t be surprised by this revelation: Day-to-day work demands can often cloud your big picture view. But clearly, your job satisfaction has waned, so don’t waste time in trying to bring about positive change. Start by working with your manager to adjust your responsibilities or make other improvements that could help to reignite your enthusiasm for your work. If you’re still not content, then you’ll know for certain it’s time to look for a new position. (And if you’re an accounting manager who possesses specialized skills, you may not need to wait long for a new opportunity.)