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Fast-Track Your Finance Career’s 5-Year Plan

The Aston Carter thought leadership series examines strategies for navigating the finance and accounting labor market.

It’s a great time to be in accounting and finance.

With unemployment levels at record lows in the field, employers are having difficulty finding the talent they need. While that makes things tough for hiring managers, it’s good news if you’re looking to fast-track your finance career.

We spoke with Aston Carter’s Kate Schendel, a senior recruiter who specializes in placing finance professionals, for tips on how you can get your career moving.

           The best employees aren’t afraid to bet on themselves.

Get Your Foot in the Door at the Top Firms 

It’s no secret that having experience at a big-name firm will help your resume stand out. But top companies get inundated with applications — qualified or not — so it’s not always easy to get your foot in the door, even in this market.

Make sure your LinkedIn profile will get you noticed, line up strong professional references, and don’t miss out on network opportunities.

Working with a staffing agency can also help ensure you get noticed.

“Premium companies work with us because they know we're going to bring them the best of the best,” says Schendel. “Contracting can get our applicants into companies they may have applied to a hundred times and never heard back from.”

When you work with a highly respected staffing agency, their connections become your connections.

Build a Varied Resume

Ambitious career plans include gaining a wide range of experience and skill sets in a short amount of time. That’s where contract work holds a major advantage over permanent positions.

For example, being part of a new regulation compliance team helps you elevate your game because there’s one thing we can all count on — there will always be new regulations.

“Last year, it was new lease accounting standards,” says Schendel. “And you know other standards will change at some point, so the more you can learn and experience, the more in demand you’ll be.”

It’s also a lot easier to sample different industries as a contractor.

“Let’s say you want to branch out of the healthcare industry and see what manufacturing is like,” says Schendel. “It’s a lot harder to make that move from one permanent position to another. With contracting, you can gain varied experience and avoid pigeonholing yourself.”

Experience with cutting-edge projects across multiple industries will work to your advantage.

“When a hiring manager sees you've had roles across multiple industries with some well-established companies working with large ERP systems, for instance, you’ll stand out from the competition and position yourself for more senior roles.”

Where Do You Want to Be in Five Years?

As with a lot of things in life, regular communication is essential to getting where you want to go. Working with Aston Carter, that communication begins with your first recruiter interview.

“Once we know what your goals, skills and interests are, we work with you to develop a career strategy,” says Schendel. “That informs the kinds of positions we line up for you, both short and long-term. It comes down to, ‘Where do you want to be in five years?’”

That strategy should include more than better pay and increasingly important roles — company culture matters, too.

“We make it a point to find out what matters to you in the workplace,” says Schendel. “Because we have an insider’s knowledge of the companies we work with, we do our best to match your preferences.”

Communication needs to continue when you’re on the job. Given the dynamic nature of assignments like ERP implementations, a six-month contract might last two years. Good recruiters maintain contact with you and your employer so they can begin to look for your next opportunity even before your current position ends.

And remember, communication is a two-way street.

“I've worked with many people over multiple years because we’ve built a great relationship,” says Schendel. “They let me know about the projects they’re interested in and about opportunities in large companies we can help them access.”

Perform and Keep an Open Mind

Contract positions have something significant in common with permanent positions — performance matters in both. If you’re on the fast track, that often means going above and beyond.

“The most successful candidates show initiative,” says Schendel. “If there’s work you can help out with, speak up and volunteer, even if it’s not exactly what you were hired to do. That's going to differentiate you.”

Whether you’re just starting your career or you’re a well-established professional, it’s also important to be flexible and open to new opportunities. The best career plans take that into account.

“If you're not 100% satisfied in your career, keep an open mind because the world is changing at a very fast rate,” says Schendel. “People who can keep up with that change are in the best position to get where they want to go.”

Want to learn more about how we can help you fast-track your finance career? Contact Aston Carter now.

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