Lately, it feels like a lot of you are trying to jump ship, rally against “The Man” or trap a firm into poaching you like a 19-year-old actress catches a predator. Maybe you guys have always been like that and it only feels like it’s happening more often now that we email each other about it but I’m sensing a pattern here.
Anyway, there are a few things you can do (and a couple you absolutely shouldn’t) that can help you on that road. Maybe these are obvious to you; if so, congratulations. Let’s just go over them again anyway, not everyone is as good at this as you.
1. Learn IFRS. Or at least have a baseline knowledge extensive enough to fake it when you have to talk to people who actually care and/or know more than you. What this means is that you can either take a class, some CPE, maybe get a “free” masters on your firm’s dime or read a damn book. Whatever you do, remember that unless you are at an IFRS conference, chances are you don’t have to be an expert on the matter, just knowledgeable enough to appear as though you have some idea what you are talking about. If you have the opportunity to actually work on IFRS financial statements at work, do it. It’ll be an awesome item on your resume.
2. Don’t get a useless degree. “Useless” is, of course, defined by how far you want to go and where. Please take inventory of your personal situation to define “useless degree” for your own circumstances. For some of you, this is a MAcc. For some, it is an MBA from a for-profit. For others, it is a bachelors in philosophy. Whatever it is, avoid it at all costs, even if you can afford it. Get by on your merits and don’t waste your time pursuing education you don’t need. If you’re that bored, find a hobby.
3. Learn how to play the game. You can’t negotiate a better salary if you are spending half the day on the Internet interrogating strangers about their salaries in our comment section. We don’t care either way but if you are trying to elbow your way into a better salary, you may have to actually try to set yourself apart from your slacker colleagues.
4. Pass the CPA exam. Before some troll shows up and asks me why I haven’t done #4, I’m not trying to market myself as a CPA, writing about this and helping actual CPAs have a single “water cooler” to sit around is much more fulfilling. For people who actually want to work in this industry, this one is pretty necessary. If you actually focus on getting it done sooner rather than later, you’ll save yourself a lot of pain later down the road. As for me, I’m sure I’ll be deflecting this same troll 5 years from now when you’re making way more money than I am writing these articles. Feel free to rub it in.
5. Know your enemy. Some of you are vicious, money-grubbing pricks and I really love that about you. If you believe it when partners say “you really have potential” and tossed a few extra back at your recruiting events to “loosen up a bit,” you’re going to have to understand what it is you want and how best to get it. For some of you, more money is enough until you want more money after that. For others, you just want to experience the thrill of being wanted by several firms at once. Whatever your vice, you need to analyze your own strengths and weaknesses before you try to get three firms to bitchfight over who gets to have you. You can’t negotiate if you’re delusional about what you offer to any of them.