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Career Conversations: Talking to Your Manager About Professional Growth

With a rebounding economy and a shortage of top talent, many finance and accounting professionals are weighing their options and considering a move. Before you risk moving to another company, make sure your current manager understands your career goals.

One of the most meaningful activities in your accounting career involves regularly updating your path for future growth. Personal and professional development contribute heavily to job satisfaction, and yet are often overlooked in routine meetings with managers. To make progress towards your career goals, it’s important to shape and lead career conversations with your boss.

With some preparation and self-reflection there are a few easy steps to planning a productive discussion where you take control of your career growth goals.

A Proactive Approach

You need not worry about appearing overly aggressive in asking for a career conversation. With careful planning, your ambition and engagement will resonate with your manager. Advocating for resources, building skillsets, and sharing your thoughts about the team, projects and your own professional growth puts you in a positive light while showcasing your commitment to both the company and personal growth.

When preparing for your career conversation consider these actions:

Refine Your Personal Mission and Vision

Go into the conversation with clarity on who you are and what you want to achieve. Do you want to manage people? Work cross-functionally? Take on higher-profile clients? Focus on a specific industry? Take a certification program? Articulate the skills you’d like to learn and how they will advance the organization in solving its business challenges.

Communicate Your Unique Value

Know your talents and capabilities, and document how they’ve advanced products, services, or projects. Reflect on these accomplishments and the results that you have delivered. Acknowledge your weaknesses and how you plan to improve upon them. Also share difficult situations you have championed or overcome.

Ask for Constructive Feedback

Career planning provides a great opportunity for constructive feedback. Ask your boss for insight on your biggest contributions, greatest skills and areas that need development. Understanding what your boss values about you and where she or he envisions your next career move will help you strategically map out tangible needs for short- and long-term success.

Develop a Strategy and Know Your Options

Be aware of the open positions within your company and understand the different functions and roles for which you are qualified. Check out other departments or industry clients that could benefit from your skillset and experience. Connect with colleagues who work on other projects or with clients who capture your interest and ask about the perks and pain points. Look outside the company for additional information on similar, relevant positions in other organizations. LinkedIn and the Alliance Resource Group (ARG) Job Board are two great search tools.

Understand This is the Beginning of Your Path

Use this opportunity to gather information and refine your career growth trajectory. Allow yourself time to digest the conversation before taking any action and plan subsequent meetings if needed. Ultimately, career conversations give you a better understanding of your core values and how they align with company culture. This exercise can be a productive tool in applying for a promotion, segueing to a new department, earning education credits, or deciding if you’re teamed up with the right company.

Whether planning a career conversation or pursuing new opportunities in professional excellence, check out recruiting and hiring resources available at ARG.


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