Once you get that promotion to manager, you see so many doors open. Suddenly, the prospect of becoming a partner is very real. Even if, as a CPA, you decide to opt-out of public accounting, management experience will significantly help with your career advancement prospects in business and industry. So how do you get that promotion? This article outlines exactly how to get promoted in an accounting firm.

How to get promoted in accounting?

To carve out a career in public accounting, young accountants need to first win that promotion to manager. This is by no means easy, but to put it simply, accountants need to do two very specific things to win that promotion and those are:

  1. Show that they can handle any of the work being done by employees below them on the pyramid.
  2. Display the nascent skills needed by those above. 

Again, easier said than done, so let us explain a bit further about how you can achieve both of these things. 

Step 1: Do great work and shout about it

How to get promoted in an accounting firm does take time and experience, but if you make above and beyond efforts to do great work and make it known, you can definitely accelerate this process. 

Before you do anything else, you need to make sure that the most important people know that:

  • You are loyal – show your passion for the firm you work for. Exhibit a genuine interest in what the firm does and work hard to share in the success of the firm, just remember to not do anything that will endanger the welfare of the firm too!
  • You do great work – promotions are not given likely, so just doing your work and hitting your targets isn’t enough. Think about it from your senior’s point of view, what reason would they need to promote you? How can you perform better or prove your worth above and beyond the norm? Doing great work is the best start as your colleagues and clients will talk about you, but what can you do to wow the important people?
  • You’ve made progress – set yourself some goals and at the end of this time, compare your actual achievements with your goals to see how you’ve done. Share this information regularly with your senior so that it keeps you accountable and they can see your capabilities and achievements. 
  • You know your why – confidence rubs off on the people around you, it’s infectious, so if you know your why and have a genuine desire to improve your professional life, people are naturally going to want to help you. Relishing this challenge and proving yourself looks good to your superiors so show them that you know exactly where you want to go and that you have the confidence to get there.
  • You want this promotion – how to get promoted in accounting? Ask for it. It sounds weird, but if you don’t ask you don’t get. Communicate with your superiors early on that being promoted to manager is what you want and they will help you get there. Don’t rely purely on getting rewarded for the efforts you make, make yourself and your goal known and ask for their advice on how to improve so that you can make this a reality. 

Step 2: Show that you are management potential

There are two types of people that are always at the forefront of your boss’s mind and those are people who are messing up and people who are showing great potential. If everything is going according to plan and you are doing your work trundling along, then, unfortunately, you’re not going to stand out for that promotion. 

To win that promotion to manager as quickly as possible, you need to be exhibiting the traits and skills of a manager, particularly:

  • Ability to lead and manage people – even if you are not formally managing people yet, you need to show you can be trusted to manage, develop and supervise the more junior members of staff. 
  • A strong technical proficiency – strong technical skills are needed because the manager is the glue that holds a project together. They need to be able to jump in and assist on any part of a job if necessary as well as having to instruct their less experienced direct reports and catch any errors that team members make. 
  • Interpersonal communication skills – even if a manager has all the technical proficiency that’s needed, if they can’t communicate, they won’t lead effectively. Managers need strong spoken and written communication skills to explain the engagement to a team, to interpret complex accounting rules for clients, and to converse with partners and client CFOs with ease. 
  • The ability to multitask – adaptability and flexibility are crucial when it comes to being a manager as they are in charge of generating new business, planning an engagement, and communicating the result to a client. Often, they are doing these all at once for several clients.
  • A burgeoning knack for business development – managers are on the front lines of discovering new business. Often, they are the primary client contact so they are in an ideal position where they can build relationships, listen to clients’ needs and ascertain how those match up with the firm’s service offerings. 

Accelerate your career and win that promotion

Still asking yourself how to get promoted in an accounting firm? It’s as easy as doing great work at everything below and up to your level and displaying the skills of the position where you want to be. Firm owners want managers who demonstrate these skills along with an entrepreneurial spirit so the earlier you can hone and demonstrate these skills to your superiors, the earlier you will win that promotion and carve your path to partner! 

Scroll to Top