Should You Change Audit Job in 2022?
Should I stay or should I go now?
There is no denying the 2022 zeitgeist, ‘it’s a candidates’ market’. From The Great Resignation to record levels of employment and startling wage-inflation (in at least some sectors), the demand for audit, assurance, risk and compliance professionals is comfortably buoyant. But from a career-perspective, is it the right time to be changing jobs? Let’s consider…
The Sweet Spot
Faced with a dazzling array of confectionary, purveyors of abundance understand that the human brain is wired for survival, and the attractions of the sweet shop are marketed accordingly. Think of the lure of the instant promotion, the appeal of that extra £5k to bolster against harder times, and the very human fear of scarcity which fuels the inclination to grab the nice and shiny lest they be gone tomorrow. And so they might. As we know from bitter experience, markets can (and do) go up as well as down. Organisations will start to cool investment at some point, and incumbents will dig down and bury deep, thwarting current career mobility across our industry. But not yet. While the market is buoyant and the wares are rich, it really can be a good time to move audit roles. But… only if you can hit that sweet spot that aligns the best interests of your own career with the requisites of the bidding organisation. For decades now I have been harping on about the dangers of the knee-jerk career move – instinctive, short-term decision making which satisfies the wants of ‘now’ but with scant regard for the ‘needs’ of future. So, 2022 could be a great year to change role if you can map across your strategic career requirements to the wealth of opportunities on offer. Here’s how:
Don’t wait to be contacted by an agent or lured by an appealing advert. The CV is yours; it should be a dynamic, master document which encapsulates who you are, where you are going and how you going to get there (via your current and past experiences and competencies). What does the professional profile or personal summary at the top of the document say about your career direction and objectives? If you haven’t yet articulated it, do it right now; write a personal statement that conveys your career mission, the more specific and focussed, the better. This is a working document so the statement, in its raw form, is for your eyes only, but it is essential to create a compass to support your career direction. In the argot of audit, it provides you with a comparative against which to measure prospective roles and job moves.
2. Make your mindset active
Even if you are not necessarily looking to change jobs right now. A passive mindset goes with the flow, waits for an opportunity, and is then lured or enticed into movement. An active mindset is consciously aware of where they are heading, whether in the current role and its inherent development, or with the next external career move. An active mindset is ‘self-led’ as opposed to ‘lured’ by a third party; if an outside opportunity does come along then it can rapidly change gear to take stock, consider strategic alignment, but remain self-led and in control.
3. Understand your personal drivers
It’s one thing to have envisioned a strategic direction for your audit career path, but the culture and values of your working environment are critical to contributing to the fulfilment of your personal success. What are the killer criteria of your ideal job? Personal autonomy and independence? The ethos of the organisation itself? A defined career path? Learning & Development opportunity? The scope to make a difference? Take time out to come up with a list of at least six key personal values or drivers that are aspects of the working environment which are important to you, and on which you won’t compromise. And then be sure to be guided by these in your subsequent career choices.
So, it would seem that 2022 remains a candidate-led market, exacerbated by a shortage of audit talent originating from short-term decision making on investing, training and developing auditors in the earlier part of this century. In terms of the quantity and to some extent the quality of vacancies, this year could prove to be THE year to switch role, whether to accelerate promotion, enhance skills and experience or to boost your reward package. But do beware of being caught up in the maelstrom of the zeitgeist. Switch on your own inherent audit antennae, from professional scepticism and opportunity scrutiny, actively go for your next move with your eyes wide open and refuse to allow yourself to be led, or lured, by the sweetness of the marketplace alone.