Being told you are on partnership track, or in line for partnership, or going to be put up for partnership is a great sign that you are nearing the end of your journey to make partner. This post explores what you can do in the 12-24 months before the admission process starts to help you increase your odds of breezing through the partnership admissions process and get the all important thumbs up in the partnership vote.
1. Invest time BEFORE you are on partnership track
A huge mistake to make is to consider that all you need to do is rock up to the partnership admission process, cram for the interviews and that is all you need to do. (In a recent post I discussed why you ignore your personal case for partnership at your peril.) Before you actually get onto partnership track it is worth spending time working on and building up your business case and personal case for partnership. Very often it is those professionals who have invested in building up a business case, i.e. a strong personal brand and growing client portfolio, who will find their career accelerated through to partnership. With partner numbers still dropping in the professions, making partner is becoming harder and harder. (The recent Accountancy Age top 50+50 survey found that the top 50 firms partners had dropped to 5780 from 5805 a year earlier) Therefore, the more you can do before you actually get onto partnership track and into the admissions process, the greater your odds of making it through.
2. Invest in relationships to champion you across the partnership
When it comes to that all-important vote you want to make sure that the partners, even the ones in other parts of the firm, have heard of your great reputation. After all, if they are going to have to vote you in, they will want to know who you are! Therefore, you want to make sure that there are more partners championing your cause than just the partners from your area of the practice.
3. Allocate time each week to strengthen your business case and personal case
Getting through partnership track and into the ranks of the partnership is very much a marathon and not a sprint. Building relationships with partners, refining your business case, preparing for assessment centres, and so on, all take time. This is time you are supposed to find from somewhere (not sure where!), and is on top of business development, chargeable time, developing your team and trying to have a little bit of life outside of work. Consequently, if you can get in the habit of doing a little bit every week on your business and personal case for partnership, you will have a better chance than those who leave it to the last minute.
4. Treat being on partnership track like a personal PR campaign
As I mentioned earlier, you need to make sure that your name is known for the right reasons by partners all across the firm – many who may never have spoken to you so far in your career. Of course, if you have had the luxury of serving on cross-firm committees and projects this will help your profile and reputation massively by the time you get onto partnership track. As you think about your personal PR campaign consider:
- What do you want people saying about you? How best can you get these messages out there?
- What can you do to get the right messages out there? (Remember that actions speak louder than words)
5. Turn up as yourself
Far too often good candidates fail to get through the partnership admissions process because they try and be someone who they think their partners want them to be. The only person you should be is yourself. Firstly, it takes less energy to be yourself and act authentically. Secondly, if you try and be someone else you can come across as fake AND lessen your personal impact.