Career Growth for Accounting Professionals

Controller – San Antonio, Texas

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Tax Manager – local firm – San Antonio, Texas

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Audit and Tax Associates / Managers / Senior Managers – Dallas, Texas

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158: Exploring the field of Project Management with Bethany Eggleston CPA

Bethany Eggleston, a CPA whose career journey took her into the field of project management, shares her insights on the similarities and differences between the two fields on this episode of Life In Accounting, the Where Accountants Go podcast. In this interview, we will cover Bethany’s early years as she became interested in accounting due to a familial influence, and then how her career started with one of the Big 4 firms in an audit position.  We’ll also cover her transition into a position in industry with a publicly-traded organization, and then her eventual move into project management within the energy sector. Bethany also covers… How project management and audit require some of the same skill-sets, What she finds fascinating and enjoys each day about her role in project management, and How getting involved in professional associations such as the CPA Society in your area can help you stay connected and move along faster in your career This episode is packed with insights, and you’ll get a little project management education along the way as well!  I hope you enjoy it as much as we did recording it. Other episodes you may enjoy include:  Joey Tackett and Paula Gold-Williams To find the publication mentioned in this episode (“49 Tips for Working With A Headhunter”), click here. Please use the player below to listen in on this informative interview with Bethany Eggleston:

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My One Regret as a CPA

A few weeks ago, I was honored to be able to attend the swearing-in ceremony for new CPAs in Texas.  I was attending as a representative of the TSCPA Executive Board.  Several hundred professionals had qualified to become new CPAs.  It was a joy to see them cross the stage to officially receive their certificate.  Most were handed their certificates by a member of the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy, but several that had family members that were also CPAs chose to have the certificate given to them by their family member onstage.  It was a special moment for all. This was the first swearing-in ceremony I had ever attended.  Believe it or not, I didn’t even attend my own.  I remember at the time, when I was in my mid-20’s, thinking that I just wanted to get on with my life and that walking across stage to receive my CPA certificate was something that I could afford to skip.  While I have thought a few times over the years that it would have been nice if I would have attended the ceremony for the memory if nothing else, I can’t say that I ever truly regretted not attending until that day.  My father was a CPA, and so when I saw the new CPAs that were receiving their certificates from their family members, a feeling of regret came over me. When I was 20-something, I just wanted to get on with my life and I saw my father practically every day at that point.  However, now that my father has passed, I realize what a special memory it would have been if I would have attended for no other reason than to let my Dad hand me the certificate.  It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime chances to form a memory that would have lasted forever.  I regret not attending the swearing-in ceremony and allowing my father, very proud at the time I may add, present me with my CPA certificate. The lesson learned… Writing this caused me to think about what advice I would give to another new CPA that is considering not attending their swearing-in ceremony.  It is simply this… There are many special occasions that you may choose to skip because they come along often.  Christmas celebrations, Thanksgiving get-togethers, or even birthdays.  Deciding to put other priorities ahead of them is usually a mistake, but at least you have the opportunity to celebrate the next one when it comes along.  However, there are some occasions that may not seem as special, but that truly are once-in-a-lifetime events.  They may seem trivial at the time, but consider how you may feel a few decades later.  When you look back, will you be OK with the fact that you chose to do something else?  It helps you put the importance in perspective when you consider how your older self may feel.  Today when I look back at my decision to skip the swearing-in ceremony, I know that I missed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a memory.  I regret not taking that opportunity. I know this is a heavier topic than we usually cover, but I hope you have found some truth or insight in it for yourself.  Until next time and as always, I wish you the best in your career. Mark Goldman, CPA Son of Clark Goldman, CPA

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Employees Have Options, Treat Them Well!

As is normal in a longer-term healthy economy, we have seen the job market get ever tighter for employers searching for qualified applicants for key positions. As is also normal in this type of economic cycle, we have seen that employees are much more comfortable quitting their positions to look for something that better fits their needs when they become uncomfortable with some facet of their work environment. While some turnover can be beneficial in that it brings in fresh perspectives, often turnover causes problems within an organization as you struggle to not only find the right replacement for the position, but also to get the new person up-to-speed quickly. The key to keeping your employees longer is to treat them well. Some ways in which to ensure you keep those key individuals that you want to keep include the following: Yes… fair compensation is important. I wouldn’t be honest unless I mentioned the obvious. Yes, it’s important to pay fairly. If you pay dramatically less than prevailing market rates, you leave yourself open to losing an employee for reasons that could have been prevented. You don’t necessarily have to pay the highest compensation in the market, but you do need to at least come close to whatever the market pay is for similar positions. It’s not always simply an economic decision for employees; sometimes is a matter of whether or not they feel respected by their employer, and if that shows in their paycheck. Reasonable workloads. Everyone wants employees that will go “above and beyond” when needed, but if that need occurs over and over, you leave your team with a feeling of burnout. In some cases, employers will even begin to think it’s not an issue because the team continues to get the work done even though additional effort is needed practically all of the time. This can lead to an even bigger issue – multiple resignations. Make sure you assess the reasonableness of the workload periodically to make sure you are not taking advantage of your team. They may put in extra effort for a while, but if the need becomes never-ending, you will find yourself with openings to fill. Flexibility around family needs. Another area where there needs to be give-and-take is in the area of flexibility. Do you expect your employees to “pitch in” and help in other areas when necessary? Do you expect them to stay after hours when there is a deadline to be met? That is the case with most employers. If it holds true for you as well, then some flexibility on their side is generally appreciated. Giving additional flexibility to employees that have family-related demands on their time goes a long way towards building goodwill. Yes, if it becomes detrimental to getting goals accomplished, then something has to change. But if the job still gets done in the end, then a little flexibility really doesn’t have any downsides. Adequate benefits. This is another area where you don’t have to necessarily be the best, but it’s important that you do at least try to provide something that is comparable with the market. Some provision for medical insurance and some paid-time-off are generally expected. You may not be able to cover all of the associated costs, but having some type of reasonable medical coverage is practically an assumption for professionals in today’s market. Vacation and sick leave, or PTO, is also expected, and frankly not that costly. At a minimum, these two benefits should be offered. Not doing so leaves you exposed to the probability of quick turnover. It’s easy in today’s market for your employees to find another employer that offers these basic benefits. Know them personally. This is a touchy area, but deserves some discussion. Is it possible to go too far in getting to know your employees on a personal level? Of course it is. However, is it also possible to alienate your team because you don’t express any concern about them outside of work? Definitely! Make sure you at least have casual conversations with your team members about safe items outside of work. People are less likely to resign when they feel that they work with a friend, versus simply working for a boss. Understand what they value. This is perhaps the most important factor. Understanding what is truly important to each of your team members, and then acting on it, is the best way to ensure low turnover. It’s easy to assume that we know what an individual employee will value, or even worse make broad-based assumptions based on what others value. However, all employees are unique and while some may highly value one aspect of the job, others may find no value at all in that same benefit. We all know this, but given our busy schedules, we frequently fall into the mistake of depending on an assumption without taking the time to get to know each individual. The better you know each individual team member, the longer they will stay with your organization. While some turnover is inevitable, and can even be healthy, excessive turnover definitely will cause severe issues within your company. The first step to decreasing turnover is to realize that your team members really do have options. However, if you treat them well, they are much more likely to stick around. I hope these tips have been helpful for you, and as always, I wish you the best in all your endeavors. Mark Goldman CPA  

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How To Stand Out At A School Career Fair

When speaking with an accounting club recently, the topic of how to stand out at a school career fair as a quality applicant came up.  In this particular discussion, we were talking about a very unique career fair where everyone there would be an accounting major.  Although it was unique in that respect, it wasn’t all that unique overall in that it happens at universities all across the nation.  The schools work hard to provide career opportunities for the students, and to provide a quality experience for the employers as well.  However, it becomes difficult to stand out as an individual when everyone there has similar education and has been given similar guidelines for how to present themselves. So how do you stand out in a group where everyone has the exact same educational background as you do?  The answer is that it takes some effort, but it definitely isn’t impossible.  Below are some key tips for making sure the employers you meet will remember you: Follow the rules, but be creative. Some schools have guidelines for what your resume should look like.  You definitely need to follow the university’s rules, but look for small ways to be a little unique.  Perhaps you can try adding a border to your resume or using non-traditional paper stock.  Or if paper resumes aren’t being used, perhaps you should have a business card with your contact information on it.  Or if many students are using cards, perhaps a colored card would be unique.  Or even a vertically printed card or something with a unique shape.  Find some way to make your ‘leave-behind’ memorable.  It doesn’t have to be crazy, just something that will catch their attention. Add some color. If you anticipate the career fair to be a sea of black suits, another way to stand out is to add a little bit of color.  You still want to portray a professional image of course, but adding a little color to your wardrobe makes a dramatic difference when everyone else is wearing the typical dark suit.  Don’t go overboard, but something as simple as a coat pocket handkerchief for guys, or a colored accessory for ladies, can help you to stand out a little.  Obviously you still need to make a good impression through your conversation as well, but if you do, the slight visual difference will help you be more memorable. Relate personally to the recruiter. When you speak with the company representatives, you definitely will end up talking about your experience, education, and career desires.  However, it shouldn’t end at that.  If you want to be memorable, ask them something about their own careers or what they appreciate about their role.  And then most importantly, find some way to relate to what they talk about.  If you can find some commonality in the few minutes that you have, it will make you more memorable later on as they consider who they want to talk to further. Research if possible.  If you know in advance which employers will be attending, and which ones you are most interested in, do some advance research on their recent news or other items that may be important to them.  Many job seekers and students walk up to an employer's table at a career fair prepared to talk about themselves, but most don't come prepared to have a conversation about what may be important in the employer's world.  If you know just a few key facts about recent news or happenings with the employer or in their industry, that is a great way to be remembered as the type of knowledgeable candidate that they will likely want to get to know better. Smile. Yes!  And lastly smile.  As crazy as it sounds, sometimes simply looking friendly will distinguish you from the other attendees.  Not that everyone else isn’t friendly, but so many are nervous that it affects their facial expressions.  If you remember to breathe, relax, and smile as you approach the employer, it will lighten the mood and make for a better experience for you both. These tips are relatively simple, but sometimes can be forgotten as we are trying to make sure we follow the guidelines set forth by the organizers of a career fair.  There again, always make sure you are following the rules as specified by the individuals in charge.  However, if you can find a way to professionally stand out, it’s likely to benefit you as the employers decide who they will contact later about an opportunity. As always, I wish you the best in your career. Mark Goldman CPA (For additional thoughts on preparing yourself for a successful accounting career, check out our book titled "49 Tips For A Successful Accounting Career" either here on our website or on Amazon)

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My Career Is Stalled. What Now?

If you have ever had this feeling, it can be depressing.  Maybe you have been in the same role for years, or maybe you are looking for something new and you can’t seem to break out of the box where the market wants to place you.  No matter how you have come to this place, it can be frustrating and seem even slightly hopeless if you’re not careful.  How do you break out of the feeling of being ‘stalled’ professionally and get your career back on track? Below are some actions to consider as you look to get your career moving back in the direction you desire: What have you learned recently? Doing a little more to learn new skills or keep up-to-date is a great way to take your professional destiny into your own hands.  The more you know, the more valuable you become, and the more opportunities you will have. Who have you helped recently? If you feel that you’ve been overlooked for promotion or by potential new employers, think about proactively offering assistance.  It could be for a non-profit, but offering to assist internally within your own company is just as beneficial if not even more so.  Being the individual that is always there to lend a helping hand is a great way to get noticed the next time an opportunity arises. Who have you met recently? If you are doing everything you can within your network, then it’s time to expand your network!  Who have you met recently that you didn’t know a few months ago?  What have you done to get outside of your normal routine and meet new people?  Sometimes if you feel you are being taken for granted by those you know, then it’s time to go meet someone that hasn’t experienced all your strengths yet.  Meeting new people in your profession is a great way to be referred to a new opportunity and get your career back on track. Do you know where you want to go? This may be obvious, but sometimes we want to escape something so badly that we don’t focus on what we want in the long-run.  We get so focused on what we don’t like, that we forget to consider what we truly want.  If you find this happening to you, take some time out to think about what an ideal situation would be long-term.  If you can visualize that the right situation would be, you are more likely to recognize the opportunity when it comes up, or maybe even attract the right opportunity to you. If you read the above items and realize that you haven’t fully engaged on one or more, then there is definitely something you can do to better your situation.  For most people there will be some action you can take, and for the minority of individuals that don’t see an area to work on, I would suggest reconsidering the list.  For most of us, there is always more we can learn, more we can help, or more we can do to expand our network. Until next time, as always, I wish you the best in your career! Mark Goldman CPA PS:  For additional career tools, visit our Courses section or check out our book "49 Tips For A Successful Accounting Career"  

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How Do I Ask For A Raise?

How to approach your boss for a raise is quandary that has existed since practically the beginning of time.  You are hired to do a job, and over time you become better at it.  You either start to take on more or simply become more valuable due to your increased ability to get things done.  This is excellent if your boss proactively recognizes your increased value with increased compensation, but what do you do if this isn’t the case?  What if you start to feel like your increased value to the organization isn’t being recognized, either intentionally or unintentionally?  How do you attempt to bring up the matter? If you find yourself in this situation, there are key items to remember as you try to navigate what can be a very touchy conversation for some professionals. Consider the company status. It could be that you have simply been overlooked, or it could be that while you are doing an excellent job, other things aren’t so excellent at the organization.  If the company seems to be struggling financially or otherwise, be prepared for a possible delay.  It may make sense to postpone the conversation, or it may still be warranted.  That is a judgement call.  However, even if you do decide to go ahead an ask for an increase, be patient with how long it takes to get an answer.  Sometimes it’s still appropriate to ask, but the company’s status definitely plays a part in the end result. Your boss’ mood. If possible, wait for a time when things are going well for your boss both professionally and personally.  Try to avoid times when another employee issue may be overshadowing the situation.  Also, try to avoid times when your boss is somehow stressed at a personal level as well.  With most people, the better a mood they are in, the more open they are to ideas – particularly if it involves going to bat for getting you a pay raise. Make sure your performance is stellar. If you always hit homeruns, but had an off-day recently, it’s best to put off the raise discussion for a while until recent mishaps have been forgotten.  Shouldn’t it matter that you are always stellar?  Yes, it should; however, your case will be stronger if the most recent items on your boss’ mind are your successes rather than one untimely failure.  Waiting until a time when no one is able to do anything other than sing your praises puts you in a much better situation to get the increase you want. Provide a rationale for why it’s warranted. It’s important to be able to state logically why you deserve a raise.  If your sole argument is that you feel you deserve one, or have been employed for a specific period of time, that may not be enough.  Make sure to have additional talking points such as specific achievements or other ways in which you have made a positive difference for the organization recently.  Employment longevity is good, but it may not be enough depending on other factors at the company. Don’t get upset by a “no”. Sometimes you are doing an excellent job, and everything else seems good timing-wise, but for some reason a raise just can’t be approved.  Perhaps it is a company-wide freeze, or perhaps there is more going on than you realize.  While this may seem crazy, to be turned down for a raise due to uncontrollable circumstances and when your boss knows you certainly deserve one can be a good position to be in!  If your boss believes you deserve more and they are unable to give it to you at the time, they will remember it later and potentially reward you even more once they are able.  Whatever you do, don’t get discouraged by a temporary “no”.  Frequently “no” is really just “not now”, and patience will pay off. I hope these tips will be helpful to you the next time you contemplate asking for a compensation increase at work.  As with most things, timing is vitally important.  With a little preplanning, awareness, and patience, you are much more likely to get what you are striving for. As always, I wish you the best in your career. Mark Goldman CPA

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What If I Don’t Get An Internship?

In the current employment market, at least in the accounting profession, one of the most dependable ways to successfully enter the workforce is through internship programs in both public accounting and in industry.  With unemployment being at record lows, and with succession being a major concern for many firms, getting an internship is much easier than in years past.  And they pay much better as well! But what do you do if you aren’t able to get an internship during your years as a student?  Perhaps it’s because you didn’t realize those opportunities were available, or perhaps you had to make another life choice that precluded you from being able to pursue an internship.  Or maybe it was simply that you didn’t find the right internship and the window of opportunity closed with you on the outside.  What do you do then? The internship path is definitely the best route to go if you want to test out different career paths, as well as in order to get pre-graduation offers, but it isn’t the only route.  If you find yourself nearing graduation, or post-internship season, without having secured your post-graduation job, there are many actions that you can take: Part-time work. In the “old days”, the word internship meant unpaid work.  What we call an “internship” today was what many older accountants would have simply referred to as a part-time job.  If you can’t find a traditional “internship”, then look at small or mid-size companies for meaningful part-time work within your field.  Accounting experience is accounting experience.  Whether it is officially labeled as an “internship” or not really doesn’t matter much. People you know. There is an old saying that when you are unemployed, then your full-time job is to find a job.  This can be applied here as well.  If you are part-time unemployed, then your part-time job is to find part-time work.  Get busy contacting former classmates and anyone else that you may know with contacts in your profession.  In a tight labor market, it doesn’t take long to find work if you publicize the fact that you are looking.  The trap that many individuals fall into though is that they only reactively look for opportunity – they wait for it to become visible to them.  They don’t proactively seek it out.  Being pro-active is a key to success in both the internship process and when looking on your own. People you don’t know… yet. Another activity that makes sense when you are seeking work, whether full-time or part-time, is to be active in organizations.  Generally it’s best to be active in organizations related to your profession, but even general business or civic organizations can be beneficial.  If you don’t know the people you need to know, then go on an expedition to find them.  Don’t wait for them to find you. Target smaller organizations. While many large organizations have formal internship programs and therefore actively seek out interns, smaller organizations don’t necessarily have a formal program because they only have one or two entry-level slots available.  If you find yourself needing, or even wanting, to look for opportunity outside of the large employer base, then directly approach smaller or mid-size companies where you may want to work.  Yes, there may be less opportunities available, but the competition is also lower.  Sometimes you can find the best match by taking this approach. Coming up to graduation without having had an internship experience isn’t ideal, but it also isn’t something that you can’t recover from.  If for some reason you find yourself in this situation, it just means that you have to work a little harder to chart your own path.  For many people, this actually can lead to a much better fit. As always, I wish you the best in your career. Mark Goldman CPA

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“49 Tips For Working With A HEADHUNTER” – by Mark Goldman CPA

Our newest book, a paperback available on Amazon or for immediate delivery right here on our website, is “49 Tips For Working With A Headhunter”. In this book, we cover both sides of the equation – the employer side and the job seeker side.  We considered writing the two separately, but since many professionals eventually sit on both sides of the desk, it was better to include all the information for you in one place. If you are a job seeker or may be one in the future, the content in this book will help you know how to best interact with those in the “headhunting” profession so that you get optimal results.  There are many things you can do to make the process smoother on your end based on how the headhunter has to engage with the employers they represent.  This book covers those points.  In a nutshell, it helps you understand the expectations on their side of the desk so that you can better position yourself for the best career match. If you are an employer, the content in this book will help ensure that you get the best results when engaging a headhunter to fill a key position on your team as well.  Many employers may feel that it’s as simple as sending the headhunter a job description, and then waiting for the resumes to pour in.  While that certainly is one way to approach a search, there are many refinements that can be made that will greatly increase the employer’s level of satisfaction with the results.  This book gives you behind-the-scenes insights into how the headhunting process really works, so that you know what the headhunter needs in order to best service you as a customer. Since most of us eventually end up sitting on both sides of the desk, becoming a job seeker and an employer multiple times each in our professional lives, all the points in this book will benefit anyone looking to continue to build on their professional knowledge and further their career. To order your copy of "49 Tips For Working With A Headhunter", please visit Amazon or click below for faster delivery: Quantity Personal copy - $21.99 USD This book + "49 Tips For A Successful Accounting Career" - $34.99 USD This book + "Hiring For Accounting" ebook - $68.99 USD

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“Hiring For Accounting: A Comprehensive Guide to Filling Accounting-Related Positions” (ebook) by Mark Goldman CPA

This guide comprehensively outlines all the key factors and steps to consider when filling an accounting role. From screening, to the nuances of an effective interview, to managing expectations, to securing an accepted offer, this comprehensive guide is meant to walk you through the process to a successful hire. Even for employers that frequently fill accounting positions, this guide will give you additional valuable insight into the perceptions of the job seeker regarding hiring processes.  A strong thorough screening process is important, but having insight into how the job seeker perceives the process and reacts to it can be equally important. "Hiring for Accounting: A Comprehensive Guide to Filling Accounting-Related Positions" is a 45-page electronic book (e-book) written by Mark Goldman, a CPA and employment consultant with over 25 years in the industry.  It's meant to make your hiring processes easier, more productive, and end with better long-term results. (To order, use the Paypal button below - NO Paypal account is needed.  E-book is emailed to email address used when purchased.  Copyright 2018 Mark Goldman.  Note:  We reserve the right to limit purchases to only end-user employers.) Options Ebook only - $49.00 USD This ebook + "49 Tips For Working With A Headhunter" paperback - $69.00 USD Ebook, paperback listed above, plus 1 Hour Employer Consulting - $149.00 USD

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