What is a Career Balance Sheet (and why do you need one?)

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In their everyday roles, Finance and Accounting professionals are highly organised, have clear processes and structure and can coordinate others in everything they do.

That same mindset should apply to how a finance professional manages their own career.

One idea that West Recruitment actively promote to our candidates, is to look at their “Career Balance Sheet”.

A candidate can use this methodology to assess their career-related assets, liabilities and resulting equity.

So how do you apply this same process to your Accounting or finance career ?

Here are some helpful guidelines to effectively give you an honest, self assessment of your career to date.

What Are Your Assets

Your corporate balance sheet lists assets (both tangible and intangible, including goodwill), liabilities and equity. And guess what? So does your personal ledger, and your career balance sheet.

Tangible assets

  • Qualities: Do you have drive, willpower, self-reliance, integrity, patience, optimism, self-confidence, and other positive and marketable qualities? If so, list them here.
  • Experience: Not just job titles, but all the diverse knowledge and skills you have acquired. Don’t forget to include your ‘pre-career’ experience (Acquiring perseverance by getting up early to deliver newspapers before school?). And don’t overlook experience derived from your personal life.
  • Current role: Likely to be the most senior position you have occupied to date, this is the springboard for the rest of your career. What do you enjoy most about it? What have you learned? What are your most significant achievements in the role?

Intangible Assets

  • Goodwill: This is your personal brand, your reputation. It will include your direct interactions as well as your online presence. What differentiates you from others, making you stand out in your company, industry or profession? You need to build your brand, enhance your credibility and expand your audience.
  • Network: This includes everyone with whom you have ever been in contact, from family and friends at one extreme, to someone who merely gave you their business card years ago at the other. They can all have an impact on your future.
  • Leadership and communication skills: These are the so-called ‘soft skills’ every senior manager needs. If you don’t have them already you’ll need to develop them. (See below).

What Are Your Liabilities

  • Do you need new qualifications? Do you lack management accounting credentials that would enable you to transfer your skills from an accountancy practice to commerce? Or could specialist training in taxation, insurance or internal audit help you to move on from the daily grind of financial accounting?
  • What about new technical skills? You may be behind the times in a digitally-disrupted marketplace. You need more than a nodding acquaintance with data analytics, AI and blockchain, because if your company isn’t using them now you may be the one getting them involved down the track.
  • Weaknesses. These are areas you have identified that need improvement. It may include personal traits you need to overcome – a lack of self-confidence for example – or gaps in your knowledge that have been exposed. Targeted courses, seminars, conferences, online learning, reading professional journals and CPD could all help.

Equity

You won’t need to be reminded that your career equity is what’s left over after you deduct your liabilities from your assets. (But hey, we’re doing it anyway.)

When you improve your assets and reduce your liabilities, over time your career equity position improves. It’s as simple as that.

Click here to access our career planning framework for accounting and finance professionals.

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