We’re Moving!

As you know, the three professional accounting bodies in BC are working together to merge under the Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) designation. Similar progress is underway in most provinces across the country as well. These will be exciting times in the accounting profession as the best practices of each body come together under one powerhouse designation. Expanding the professional development and career opportunities for you will be a central driving force behind the evolution of the new CPA designation.

The time has now come for our little CareerView blog to pack up and move to its new home under the CPA banner. While the address may be new, you can still look forward to the same school-to-career transition tips that have been our focus during the past few years.

The CGA CareerView blog was born in the early days of 2011 as a medium to answer student questions on career tips and how to land that first job, and in doing so we hoped a weekly blog might provide helpful advice to a wider audience. To be honest with you I wondered if we would have enough ideas to fulfill our commitment to post each week.  Well, it has been two-and-a-half years and today is our 115th post. And there is no shortage of ideas for future posts as well.

In those first few days, we were only getting a few views per day.  Now we are constantly averaging over 70 views per day. In fact we are just shy of the 50,000 total views milestone and have had viewers from 115 countries.

Stay tuned at our new location and keep reading at blog.goCPAbc.ca. There’s plenty more to come and we look forward to continuing to share our knowledge in the hope of helping you in your career development.

@DanTheCGA

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The Other Side of LinkedIn: Alumni

We’re going to wrap up this LinkedIn series of posts with a look at one last incredibly useful network-building tool: the alumni feature embedded in LinkedIn.

Starting on your Profile page, or any other person’s for that matter, click on the name of any of the schools attended in the education section. Alternatively, you can mouse over ‘Network’ on LinkedIn’s menu bar and select ‘Find Alumni’ from the drop down menu. This brings up the alumni feature. Here is a resource to access any fellow graduates with profiles on LinkedIn and it’s not just limited to searches for alumni from schools that you have attended but from any school. You can refine your search to the year they graduated, where they live, what company they work for, or what sector they work in. Once you narrow your search, scroll down below the alumni section to see the profiles in your refined search. It truly is an amazing tool to identify key people or find classmates you may like to invite into your network. Be sure to read our previous posts on how to best identify and add key people to you network.

I hope these few posts have given you an understanding of the incredible value available on ‘the other side of LinkedIn’; that’s the side we use to construct networks that will serve our career building now and far into the future. Keep in mind that we have only scratched the surface here, and LinkedIn is always adding or enhancing features to make it even more effective. Use these posts, and with a bit of work and exploration on your part, your network construction efforts will pay off handsomely.

Please let us know how your network-building goes, what works, and what doesn’t.

Best of luck!

@DanTheCGA

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On Your Mark, Get Ready to Set New Goals

Building on our previous post on setting realistic goals,  now that September is just around the corner, today is a great day to set some goals for the fall semester.

Small steps, big picture. Not sure where to start? The best way to reach your goals is by taking small steps toward your ultimate destination.  Start doing something each day, at the same time, to work towards your goal. This way you’ll be making a good habit. For example, if your goal is to get an A on your next midterm, decide what you can do every day to work towards that goal. Then before you know it, you will have been actively working towards your goal step by step, every day, and making it happen.

Chain reactions. Not only is it beneficial to take small steps every day, but it is also helpful to form a chain of action. If getting an A on your next midterm is your goal, try to do more than just studying each day. Make a chain of behavior—like when you go to the library, take 10 pages of notes so that you train yourself to automatically take 10 pages of notes every time you go to the library. This will get you into the practice of forming positive habits to reach your goal.

Eliminate options. Once you have planned how to accomplish your goal, stick to it. Don’t give yourself too many options for how you will get there. By eliminating options, you’ll remove distractions from the task at hand. You will know exactly what you need to do in order to accomplish your goal. If your goal is to go to the library and take 10 pages of notes, don’t give yourself the option of studying at the coffee shop, or at the park, or at a friend’s house. If you do find yourself straying from your goal, remind yourself of your small-step objectives and you’ll have the map to get back on track.

Visualize your action plan. Focusing too intently on the big goal can be daunting and rough on your confidence.  Instead, visualize the steps you plan on taking to reach your goal. Don’t just visualize getting your exam back with an A, but also visualize yourself going to the library and taking notes. This will help you stay focused on the small steps, and prevent you from becoming overwhelmed by the end goal.

No more excuses. Reflect on past goals that you may not have achieved. Ask yourself why you didn’t reach your goal. If your aim was to get an A but you didn’t study enough, what caused you to not study? Was it because you were too busy with other courses, too tired at the end of the day, or too distracted by friends in study hall? Figure out where you went wrong and try again. Examine what excuses you gave yourself to give-up, and then eliminate those excuses.

Once you start achieving your goals, you’ll feel much more accomplished and ready to take on more challenges.

This post was adapted from a 99u.com article on scientific ways to build habits that stick.

We would love to hear about other goal-reaching techniques you are using or have used in the past.

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How to Be a Good Newbie

Whether you’ve just landed your dream job, or recently started at your new company, the first days on the job can be the most challenging for new hires.

It can be overwhelming setting foot into a new office where you have to not only learn the responsibilities of the new position, but also form new relationships with colleagues and impress your new boss. Scott McDowell of 99u.com shares some key tips for success at the new job.

Knowing your role. Now that you’ve got the position, it’s important that you find out where you fit in the company, but it’s also important that your colleagues know this too. Figure out how your position contributes to the company as a whole and own it. Once you’ve figured that out, let your new colleagues know what you can bring to the table and why you were hired. Make sure your team is aware of your strengths and also be sure to find out what you can learn from your colleagues. At the end of the day, you are all working towards a common corporate goal.

Learning to communicate. You’ll need to learn to communicate with your colleagues and your boss in order to settle into your new position as quickly as possible. Observe the corporate culture and witness how people communicate with one another. Find out if your boss likes to be kept in the loop on every step of a new project, and who on your team prefers a need-to-know approach. Establish expectations with your boss as soon as possible to ensure your transition into the company starts off on the right foot.

Read Scott McDowell’s full article at 99u.com.

Please share with us in the comments section below some of the strategies you’ve used to fit into your new job.

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The Other Side of LinkedIn: The Big Cats

Last week we talked about how LinkedIn Groups can be excellent network building tools. This week, as part of our ‘other side of LinkedIn’ theme, we bring you another way to expand your network.

People on LinkedIn will typically only accept invitations from people they already know; as a matter of fact, LinkedIn’s User Agreement DOs & DON’Ts says “don’t invite people you do not know to join your network.” However, there are many people on LinkedIn who don’t mind receiving and accepting invitations from total strangers for the purposes of building a big network. Users in this camp will often identify themselves as a LinkedIn Open Networker (or LION) and will use that term somewhere in their profile headline or description, sometimes even as part of their name.

It is expected that LIONs will accept your invitation and won’t “IDK” (IDK = I don’t know this person) you when you send them an invitation to connect. Therefore, this could be an effective way to quickly expand your network (Tip: remember to always personalize your connection requests). Most LIONs, because they are open accepting invitations from anyone, have very large networks (usually 500+) and thus connecting with one LION can grow your 2nd and 3rd degree connections immensely. More connections can mean you’ll appear higher ranked in search results on LinkedIn and you’ll expand The Power of Degrees of Separation.

The downside to this practice is creating a network of quantity over quality. Also, you should beware that LION is a user-created designation and anyone can call themselves a LION which means spammers and their ilk may gain access to you this way—– remember, connecting with someone allows them to send you messages and e-mail.

I’m not saying you should or shouldn’t connect with LIONs one way or the other or that you should connect with someone just because they are a LION. I do encourage you take a good look at their profile and determine whether that person would be a meaningful and valuable connection, and someone you would want to develop a professional relationship with.

@DanTheCGA

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The Other Side of LinkedIn: Groups Can Be Excellent Network Building Tools

Groups are among LinkedIn’s most potent networking building features. So, in today’s  ‘the other side of LinkedIn,’ post we’ll discuss how actively engaging in groups and other  group features can help you identify people you might like in your network and secure them as 1st degree connections.

Here are a few points to consider when you start using groups:

  • Some groups are open to all; other groups are closed and will require you to wait while your request to join is addressed by a moderator.
  • Some groups are good, with lots of quality activity like updates, posts, and conversations from engaging and interesting contributors. Some groups aren’t so good. You learn to judge them pretty quickly.
  • Simply joining a group doesn’t really help build your network. You’ll need to get involved in the group, ask questions, respond to posts, engage in conversations, and monitor the activity in the group to get a sense of who might be quality candidates for your network.
  • Usually if you converse back and forth with someone through a group, that individual will be more likely to respond affirmatively to a connection request. Especially if you tailor the invitations to your benefit as we discussed in a previous post.
  • You can join up to 50 groups; after that you will have to delete one to add another. However, 50 groups are way too many to handle if you are using them and engaging in them as you should. Think quality over quantity.
  • The very best thing about groups is you can identify and interact with professionals that aren’t even in your network. You can meet new people through engaging in conversations, adding comments, or starting discussions. It’s a great way to search out candidates for your network.
  • Don’t forget to look at the profiles of people you have already added to you network. Their groups are listed and, if you have interests in common, you might find some useful.
  • If you are in a group, it doesn’t hurt to post an update that asks group members if they have found other useful groups. I was surprised how many good references I received when I did this.
  • And finally, there is a knack you have to develop to search effectively for the best groups for you to join.  It takes a bit of practice to zero in on quality groups that have the specific characteristics you are looking for. A search on “accountants” might be way too broad, while a search for “business professionals in the space industry” might not deliver the groups you expect. Again, finding the right group or groups with your specific focus will take a bit of learning by trial and error. Be patient, chances are your group does exist.

I will leave you with an interesting little story about the power of LinkedIn groups. A gentleman from Iran asked to meet me at my office. He had arrived from Tehran three days earlier. He did not actually want to work in accounting, or even in Canada for that matter, but he had been given my name by one of our local multicultural centres as someone who might be able to help him start a job search.  He had quite impressive experience and accomplishments in corporate finance and his dream was to work in the finance industry in Texas.

I showed him LinkedIn, of which he was totally unaware. He literally gasped as he immediately saw the potential. We did a search in groups using “Persian professionals,” as an example and he was astounded at the pages of groups that came up. He knew right there and then that he could find ways to connect with people through these groups. He could barely wait to leave my office that evening to start building his profile. Four months later I got a handwritten thank-you note from him. By building a network on LinkedIn, he had connected with the right people and landed his dream job in Dallas. He was thrilled to write that his wife and two little girls would soon be arriving to join him.

It works if you work it!

@DanTheCGA

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A Glimpse into the Future of Accounting

I love experiencing profound moments of awakening. They combine two things I am particularly fond of: serendipity and illumination. I experienced such a moment yesterday evening which gave me a wonderful glimpse into what our accounting world will soon look like here in Canada. And I should note that the fact that this awakening was triggered by my own forgetfulness did nothing to temper its impact.

If you’ll indulge me for a few lines, I would like to set up the story. If you are keeping up on meteorological events, you know that Vancouver has been bathed in glorious sunshine for most of July. I have been taking full advantage of the spectacular weather by riding my bike as much as possible.  The weather gods smiled upon the city again last evening and so, with a dinner date that had just been canceled, I went for a ‘very’ uphill ride to UBC.

On my ride back home I chose to cycle along the gravel bike paths that snake along the beachfront. Suddenly my path was blocked as I came upon hundreds of UBC accounting students who had gathered for the annual UBC Accounting Club and DAP Club Summer BBQ at Locarno Beach. I had been told about the event a while back, but I had forgotten about it since I was not scheduled to attend.  As it turned out, it seems I was going to attend this amazing event after all.

What I experienced was eye-opening to say the least.  As most readers of this blog know, I have probably attended more campus accounting events over the past 15 years than any other professional accountant here in B.C. In fact, I would submit that I could probably make a similar claim against my counterparts in the rest of Canada.

In my experience, such events have always had a palpable air of competition among rival accounting designations. What was immediately apparent to me last night however was that there has been a fundamental and wonderfully positive shift in the accounting landscape. There were reps from each accounting designation mixing and mingling with accounting students but without the usual sense of competition. Nobody was trying to sell students on one designation over the other.  I know it sounds cliché, but as I joined the mixing and mingling I truly did have a sense that everyone was part of ‘one big happy family’.

I am grateful to the UBC Accounting and DAP Clubs for opening my eyes and providing me a glimpse into what our accounting future will entail. Rather than sales pitches about which designation is better than the other, we can focus our energy on explaining the wide range of exciting career opportunities that await future graduates. This is truly as it should be!

@DanTheCGA

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