Future proof your career

Feb 06, 2019

Future proof your career.

Now that the days are looking slightly longer, you may be inspired to look at a fresh year with fresh eyes.  So how can you put your best foot forward and keep that spring in your step for 2019?

Here are some suggestions that might give you some inspiration:

Focus - focus on the tasks ahead in your role, be that accounts prep, audit or tax work.  Pay attention to the task and become aware of the skills you are learning and strengths you are developing with each new task.  Capture each new skill in your CA diary to build up a true appreciation for the learning curve you are on and to compare where you were on day one versus day 300, 600, or 900 etc.,

Self-awareness - Often when I ask newly qualified members what they enjoy about their roles they haven’t given it any thought.  Why not make 2019 the year to heighten your own level of self-awareness and pay attention to the tasks that you do, ask yourself:

  • What drives me?
  • What motivates me?
  • What challenges me?
  • What stimulates me?
  • What frustrates me?
  • What excites me?

And then ask after each one – Why? Why do I feel driven in that specific task, why does that task stimulate me etc.? But also what – what about that frustrates me, what about this interests me?

With this level of self-awareness you begin to form a clearer picture of the kind of career person you are.  Using these questions you may begin to form an outline for your dream role or ideal work environment, wouldn’t it be great before you have even qualified to have spent time on your own personal development and awareness which ultimately may help your decision making skills further down the career path.

I am not suggesting that the track you are on now, the role or the firm you are in now is not the right one for you.  That is most definitely not the case, these questions are designed to help you to develop your own thinking and what is right for you - not your peers or colleagues.  The more confident, self-aware and comfortable with your own choices that you are the more valuable an employee you can be to your organisation – this exercise shouldn't be something to fear.

Values - an exercise we work on when coaching is to start to develop a list of our Career Values. By that I mean what each of us values in our work and career for example: reward & recognition may be a value of yours, rapid progression may be a value, the ease of commute, or perhaps you value a high salary or opportunities for travel etc.

A value is personal to you, it is an honest reflection of what matters to you and can be incredibly powerful when working towards your ideal or dream job.  It is also flexible and so today you might value salary and prestige, a few years down the line you might value work/life blend and reduced working hours etc. the core of this exercise is the more honest you are with yourself the better it reflects you and where you are at in your life. 

Regardless of what stage you are at, start now to identify the values that make you as a person and at any stage in your career stop and check in to see how aligned it is with your career values.

Voice - Anyone involved in sales or marketing will understand the concept of the 'elevator pitch', it is never too early to work and develop your own 'pitch'.  This enables you to articulate who you are, what your role is and what you do in that role – I regularly meet highly competent members who cannot articulate what it is they do.  This is a basic skill and one that you can start to work on and practice at any stage of your contract - write it down and when you are happy with it on paper practice saying it to a mirror - it sounds funny but better to fluff your lines to the mirror or pet pooch than someone that you might be looking to impress further down the line.

Educate yourself - yes you are studying and regularly attending lectures, case studies and exams but aside from that, read journals online, papers, listen to podcasts, listen to business-shows on the radio - keep up with what is going on around you at all times.  You never know when a piece of information may be of use or may be the difference between you getting a promotion or not; securing your ideal job or just helping you to hold a conversation at a networking event.  It also helps to put context on how your career is shaping up, pay attention to new language used, new roles being created, old roles becoming obsolete, new technologies, new business figures, new concepts - all of the little things together will help you in your career.

Future proof – What’s happening in the world of technology that will impact how you work and your career? Are you familiar with and do you understand the terms and language that is out there and becoming part of everyday vocabulary.  What do you know about Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Bias, UX, CX etc.  How will your future-proof your career to ensure that you are one step ahead as changes come down the track? Read tech magazines, follow them online, and look at who the Pendulums and Web Summits invite to speak.  Come along to Young Professionals events where they cover the most up to date topics and career impacting technologies for ACAs.  By paying attention to all of these things you can ensure you are giving your career the best possible support.

I hope that some if not all of this resonates with you and encourages you to approach 2019 with a positive & excited attitude!


Ciara Tallon is a Career Coach & Recruitment Specialist with Chartered Accountants Ireland and works with all newly qualified members to help with CV preparation, career advice and guidance on long term career planning. Contact Ciara on 01-6377 322 or email ciara.tallon@charteredaccountants.ie