Finance Jobs: Key Considerations for Effective Career Navigation
By Simon Bennett. Simon is a Principal Consultant at Zeren, within the Senior Finance division, operating from our London office.
Navigating your career in Finance
When you start to think about making a move into a new role it could be for a number of different reasons. Some of which are:
- Hard skills growth – (Budgeting, Forecasting, consolidated accounting etc)
- Soft skills growth – (Ability to business partner – networking ability – how to communicate at all levels)
- Industry and commercial knowledge growth
- Leadership opportunities
- Joining a growth industry for a greater career opportunity or joining a flatter industry to gain greater stability in your role
- Finding a better cultural fit – personal to you
- Finding a business where you can feel part of something, a sense of purpose
- Finding a better mentor
- Increase in Package
- Greater flexibility with your time
- Easier commute
- Meeting new colleagues/friends
When approaching your next career move many of these factors can be important in your decision. But a period of self-reflection is also necessary.
- What skills am I strongest in?
You will know this subject through personal awareness but also from peer review and how your manager perceives you.
- What skills am I weakest in?
This is very important as it will define what skills you wish to improve and which you feel you can leave behind as you look to specialise in your strengths as your career goes on. Be honest with yourself on this topic as it will inevitably lead you to either increase your resolve to spend more time improving these areas, or to make your peace that they are not your strengths and seek help if necessary.
- What do I want from my next role?
Once you have defined what you are good at and what you are weaker at, you can plan to enter a role to improve these areas or to find a role that will fill in the skillset gaps for you.
- Does this decision play into a longer-term plan you may have?
Or will your plan be to pursue shorter-term goals that revolve around your direct enjoyment of the hard skills you deliver?
- What would they want from me?
Understanding what your hiring manager or CFO or founder may want from your role is key to success in any given situation. What core deliverables do they need from you, but also what level of stability and ownership would they want you to display before they saw you as a success.
This point is a much-missed opportunity from the majority of candidates as ambitious professionals can sometimes be too focussed on “what do they get out of the role” and completely miss the concept that “Advancement and reward comes most commonly from your boss’s favour”.
- Understanding the job market
When you begin to interview and critique what is a good role and what is not, it’s important to analyse and understand what the role really is. This will allow you to navigate and conduct an interview process sure of the fact that you’re not wasting your time.
- What are the core deliverables?
Understanding the day-to-day is important as you set expectations on what you will be doing for the majority of your day. What will you learn? What ownership will you improve?
- What progression opportunities are there?
An ambitious person always wants to see a path ahead to advancement, but defining which areas will be improved are key to understanding whether expectations are met. Refer back to the “Understanding yourself” section to clarify what you were trying to improve in the first place.
- What do they want from you?
Understanding what a company really wants from you in terms of your services and your cultural fit, as an employee is key to a successful career. As doing a good job in terms of hard skills is only 50% of the experience you will go through when part of an organisation.
- What are the daily demands that this company is experiencing at the moment, what are you heading into?
- What’s the state of their function and what are they expecting you to do about it?
- How involved in their culture do they expect you to be?
- What expectation on normal working hours exists in the company?
- What level of tenure and stability in this role would count as success in their eyes?
Zeren exists to empower the world’s change makers. We do this by building high-performing teams in the world’s most innovative businesses, to accelerate growth by connecting visionary leaders and ambitious talent.
We are a leading global Executive Search & Recruitment firm with teams and offices in San Francisco, Chicago, New York, London, Berlin and Frankfurt.
We partner with high-growth, VC/PE-backed businesses and ambitious Corporate brands placing senior leaders, building exceptional teams, or providing critical interim and consulting talent.