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7 ways women can advance their careers

Woman hula hoopWomen’s History Month is a great time to take inspiration from the achievements of outstanding women, and a chance to check in on your own goals. Are you aiming for advancement and trying to decide the best ways to get there? These are some steps you can take to enhance your prospects for getting ahead.

  1. Set yourself apart. What does your organization need? Someone to spearhead cybersecurity efforts or to develop a strategy for addressing the impact of blockchain technology? A professional with expertise or a strong interest in a new and promising service area? Becoming the go-to expert in a hot topic area can raise your visibility and put you in a better position to be considered for new roles or leadership opportunities.
  2. Get on track with mentoring. Need an objective source for advice and career insights? Be sure to take advantage of any mentoring options inside and outside your company (these free mentoring and networking resources will give you some pointers). Once you have some experience under your belt, it’s also a good idea to offer to become a mentor to a less seasoned professional. It can be a satisfying and educational experience. It also helps you learn and demonstrate leadership skills that will benefit you as you move up the management ladder.
  • Be inventive. Do you have a great idea for streamlining an office process? Or some thoughts on ways to improve client service? Share them with you supervisors or other organizational leaders. You’ll show them you’re an innovative person who’s focusing on the organization’s needs. Some other options:
  • Volunteer for a special team project where you can make meaningful contributions and have a chance to shine;
  • Champion an initiative, such as a Women’s Initiative Program in your firm; or
  • Be an advocate for the profession by applying to join an AICPA volunteer committee or task force.
  1. Speak up. Have you recently received some training or an update that you could share in a team meeting? Or do you belong to a professional organization that uses speakers at its events? Step up and offer to give a talk on a topic of interest. This will help boost your confidence and raise your profile within or outside your firm.
  2. Accept a winding road. “There is no perfect career path,” AICPA President and CEO Barry Melancon, CPA, CGMA, notes in a Women in the Profession video. The most important thing is that your road ultimately gets you where you want to go. With that in mind, don’t stress over any decisions you make that may not follow a conventional path, because they’re all part of a journey to your long-term goal.
  3. Start a conversation. You know you’re eager for your next professional challenge, but be sure to let you supervisors or others in the firm know about your ambitions. Simply asking for a new opportunity can make a significant difference in your chances for advancement. When you approach the subject, build an unbeatable case. Be as specific as possible about what you want and why your experience or skills qualify you for it.
  4. Get recognized for giving recognition. When your good work is called out by your peers, it not only boosts your spirits, it can influence your career. But did you know that acknowledging another colleague’s contributions can be similarly beneficial? Offering much earned recognition gets you noticed as a leader willing to help others succeed. Take advantage of company newsletters, social media and even awards as avenues for showcasing others. With the 2018 Most Powerful Women in Accounting nominations, launched by the AICPA and CPA Practice Advisor, you can acknowledge your peers. The Women to Watch Awards is another program to consider for CPAs in your state.

All these steps involve taking stock of what you offer as a professional and determining the best ways to put your talents to work to reach your goals. Following them can enhance your chances of achieving the success you seek.

Want more great ideas on women’s advancement, as well as practical resources for putting them to work? Join us for the Advancing Women in the Accounting Profession webcast on Mar. 29 from 10 to 11am ET. Or consider attending the AICPA’s Women's Global Leadership Summit, Nov. 14-16 in New York, NY.

Turn to the AICPA Women in the Profession site at aicpa.org/womenlead for more details.

Kim Drumgo, Director -- Diversity and Inclusion, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants and Chair of the PhD Project, an effort to advance workplace diversity by increasing the diversity of business school faculty

Hula hoop courtesy of Getty Images.

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