Many young professionals sadly never achieve their burning ambition of making partner, regardless of whether they start at a Big 4 firm. However, it’s pretty easy to see who is going to make it through to partnership, just by looking out for these six clues.

1. Have a rough timescale to make partner

Those future partners who I work with, all have a loose timescale in their head of when they want to make partner. Whilst they may not have the absolute date etched in their mind when they have to have been made up to partner, they typically have a time in mind for making partner. It’s this timescale which helps them make choices about their career, and makes them proactively manage their career. Of course, it’s not surprising that those people who are actively working on their career often go onto make partner. However, how many of us don’t proactively manage our career? Or let the day job take over completely? This is the same whether or not you are at a small firm, magic circle firm or Big 4 firm. To help you build your own rough plan of how you will make partner, or achieve your career aims, then download now our free career action plan from our career kitbag.

2. Dedicated to their profession

Making partner is not easy – I think I’ve probably mentioned this a few times… To get to the top of the tree takes time, energy and commitment – particularly if you are at a Big 4, magic circle or large firm. Therefore, one of the first big clues that someone is going to make partner is they are committed and dedicated to their profession. After all, if it takes on average 10-15 years to get to partner, you’ve got to really love what you are doing. However, being dedicated to a profession is not the same as saying they are committed to their firm. In a recent piece of research by Hays into generation Y, they found that this generation expects have had an average of 7 employers within their career. The days of graduates entering the profession and staying with one firm until they get to partnership are probably very numbered.

3. Have chosen an influential mentor within your firm

Making partner is as much as about really fitting into your firm as your ability to win work or manage your team. One of the best ways of being seen to be in the club is to have an influential partner as your mentor in the firm. This is because your mentor will, in time, become your advocate at the partnership table, as well as helping your get on the right assignments. In most firms you get the chance to choose your own mentor. The choice you make could be the biggest factor in whether you make it to partner or not. To help you pick the right mentor and get the benefits of a relationship with them, download now our free guide for mentees.

4. Have asked the question ‘what do I need to do to move my career on around here’

It’s fair to say that I meet a large amount of accountants, lawyers and consultants during the course of my work. However, only a tiny percentage of the people I meet, regardless of how ambitious they are, ask the outright question to partners and HR folk in their firm – ‘how do I progress my career at this firm?’. Common sense suggests that if you want to make partner at a firm, surely that’s the first question you need to be asking – and asking many times. However, sadly many people just don’t do this, as they don’t want to be seen as pushy or arrogant. Whether or not you are a junior, manager, associate or on the cusp of making partner, ask this question. You may be pleasantly surprised at the answer!

5. Motivated by the status, recognition and/or financial reward which comes with making partner

Making it to partner is a big deal, which will take a huge amount of energy and sometimes heartache. Unsurprisingly, if you are not really bothered about the benefits of making partner then you are probably not going to get there. What’s driving you to make partner? If you don’t know, do you really want to make partner?

6. Business development is part of what they do on a day-to-day basis

One of the main responsibilities of junior partners is to win work for the firm. The days when you could get to partnership based on technical ability are long gone. Any partnership will want to make sure that anyone ,who they decide to share the profits of the firm with, will contribute more than their fair share of the firm’s profits. Consequently, I (and the partners in your firm) am always on the look out for professionals who realise that business development is their responsibility and they need to do a little on it every day. Author Credit: HowtoMakePartner book jacketWritten by Heather Townsend. I help professionals become the ‘Go To Expert’. I am the co-author of ‘How to make partner and still have a life‘ and “The Go-To-Expert” (publish date March 2014) and the author of the award-winning and bestselling book on Networking, ‘The FT Guide To Business Networking‘. To find out whether I can help you, have a look at “our services” Connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter

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