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Is Your Firm Holding You Back?

professional growth

Tired of watching less talented workers get promoted over you? Do you feel your head is smashing against the glass ceiling again and again, your brain swelling with an NFL-sized concussion? If so, it might be time to ask yourself:

What if it’s not me? What if it’s my firm?

At bigger corporations, it’s easy to become a number in the system. This can make it nearly impossible to have a say in your own career growth, as advancements are often dependent on the needs of the firm, not the individual.

If this is the feeling you’re getting at your current firm, it may be time to look elsewhere, especially before busy season starts in earnest. And even if your career is moving along, ask yourself if you are being mentored and growing in all aspects of the profession, not just your technical skills.

We had a chat with Washington, D.C. area CPA firm Ryan & Wetmore recently. During that discussion, we realized: Your firm should be actively engaged in helping you learn, grow, and move up. Anything less isn’t worth your time.

“Ryan & Wetmore has encouraged me to reach for my potential whether it be my license, continuing education opportunities, or broadening horizons with complex taxation concepts,” says Bethany Bouw, Manager at Ryan & Wetmore. “They have provided opportunities in my interest area and let me grow alongside our clients.”

But how can you tell how dedicated your firm is to your professional growth? Here are a few things you should look for:

Promotions should be based on results, not openings

If you have to wait for someone to get promoted, get fired, or retire in order to earn a promotion, your upward mobility will end up being dictated by the career decisions of those above you rather than your own performance. Look for firms that promote when skills and results warrant it, not just when there’s an opening.

“If someone’s ready for a promotion, we promote them,” says Traci Getz, Partner at Ryan & Wetmore. “When we see a staff member who is ready for more responsibility, we find a way to give it to them. Our staff knows that promotions come when they are earned, not necessarily just when a position becomes open.”

Skill training should go beyond accounting

If you’re trying to become a manager, it won’t be enough to know the numbers. You’ll have to learn how to, you know, manage. That means not just building people and leadership skills, but also understanding a wide variety of fields including marketing, business development, and staff management.

Make sure your firm isn’t just checking off the “leadership training” or “soft skills” boxes. It should be sending you to innovative, useful events and training courses that truly expand your skillset beyond accounting.

“Ryan & Wetmore connects staff with professionals in a wide spread of industries via networking events and assigning staff to fieldwork with more experienced staff,” says Justin Gipp, Staff Accountant at Ryan & Wetmore.

Everyone should be a mentor

Mentorship programs are great, but you can only learn so much from one person. Your firm should have a mentorship philosophy that spans the entire office—or in the case of larger firms, multiple offices. You should be able to approach anyone, regardless of seniority, with a question or concern. And management should be actively approaching you to make sure you’re learning everything you can and growing as fast as possible.

“Ryan & Wetmore succeeds at pairing experienced staff with newer staff for a mentoring opportunity, along with having an open door policy for any questions,” says Gipp. “This makes learning easier and takes out a lot of guesswork that bogs typical newer staff down.”

Apply for a job at Ryan & Wetmore now

Always keep your career aspirations in mind. If you are looking for a new firm that supports your own goals, take a look at the career opportunities that Ryan and Wetmore has to offer.

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Image: iStock/uzenzen

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