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Thinking about your next steps and a career rethink? Guide to a career change in accounting

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Posted 14 days ago by Helen Jones

The past year has been a time of change, adaptation and reflection, which may have led to a career re-evaluation or a pique in curiosity for other possibilities.

There are a few steps we advise taking and questions you should ask yourself. And above all, start writing lists of all your answers and observations.

 

Self-assessment

 

What are you motivations for considering a career change?

Be wary of a knee-jerk reaction, you might feel unhappy, but ask yourself, is it with your job or career, or with the situation, eg working from home and dealing with the pressures of the last year?

What are you looking for?

You might know you want change and feel confident in your reasons for doing so but answering the question ‘what do I want’ isn’t often easy. This needs some research and self-evaluation, as well as honesty and willingness to work towards a new plan.

Are you mentally prepared for two life-altering events at the same time?

Taking care of our mental health has become paramount amid the pandemic, so be sure you’re capable of making such a big career alteration at the same time. Ask yourself: 

  • Is now really the right time?
  • What are your reasons for making a career change?
  • Are you ready to tackle the challenges of a job hunt and starting a new job?
  • Will a change be worth it, given the challenges?
 

Evaluate the professional you

 

Again, ask yourself more questions and build up a picture of your current professional persona, the one you want to become and the one you might need to become to get to where you want to go.

What are your hard and soft (transferable) skills?

Soft skills: communication, leadership, problem solving, empathy, among many others.

Hard skills: the skills you’ve gained in your education and training. Will they be useful in your desired career path? Read our presenting transferable skills in your CV

What skills do you want and need? What are employers looking for? Here are eight skills that improve employability:

1. Initiative

2. Commercial acumen

3. Professionalism

4. Innovation

5. Project management

6. Communication and presentation

7. Teamwork

8. Networking

Look at where you want to go: What skills are in demand? Technological advancement is causing finance and accounting roles to evolve rapidly, leading to the demand for new skills. Do you have them? How can you get them? Read our digital skills gap and why analytics skills are in demand. Also, what would you like to learn? What skills and activities make you happy?

What are your biggest career successes to date?

These can be as simple as compliments from colleagues or skills you’ve gained off your own back, all the way to successfully lead projects, promotions or major positive changes you brought to previous organisations. This can help you understand what you’re good at and what you enjoyed doing.

Do you have a dream job or sector?

Make list of jobs you think you’d love and/or excel at. Also think about situations you’d like to work in or types of company or sector.

What are your core values?

These should reflect the core of who you are, what you stand for and what can’t be broken. These can include work-life balance, honesty, customer-led, being charitable, and so on.

What things are off the table?

What things don’t you want to negotiate? These could include flexible working, financial and job security, a clear career growth path and training.

 

Career path research

 

If you’re super clear on the job you want, then the battle is half won. Work out the skills needed, the network to grow, any additional education and plan a path to change.

If you’re unsure of a specific role, take the above evaluation and begin researching the job marketplace to find paths that suit you or that pique your interest. Go to job boards, research roles and job titles, make comparisons of roles between industries. It could be that financial analysis would be a perfect fit you, but only in certain sectors that you’re interested in.

Learn about the different responsibilities and tasks and honestly judge whether you have the skills needed or whether you could gain them sufficiently to be competitive. It really depends on how big a career change you’re making.

If you want to make a change, for example, from audit to tax, or bookkeeping to governance, how can you do this? Are there any opportunities to learn in your current company? Can you shadow people? Are there further courses you need to study?

Again, keep a list of job titles that interest you and the skills they require, so you can map them more easily to the skills you have and to see what you need.

Make a shortlist

Take all your lists, cross reference and start to make a shortlist of roles that

1) you like and

2) you have a skillset for.

Is there a sweat spot of roles that tick both of these boxes? If not, which are closest in terms of fit? Can you see a way forward to bridging the gap? Such questions are very subjective as everyone’s situation will be different and will depend on personal responsibilities, resources, and available time.

If you’re looking for a new role, ICAEW Jobs have new roles posted every day from businesses across the UK from a wide range of industries. Get started with your applications today by uploading your CV and get job alerts when new roles appear.

Get searching and good luck!