Three things to look for: Tasks, Name Recognition, Growth.
You need the right opportunity to fast track yourself. The right opportunity doesn’t mean just getting into a good company. The right opportunity has specific characteristics that will put you on the path to doubling your salary. The characteristics that I believe are crucial to this path are listed below, but also not limited to only these characteristics too. It is progressively getting more difficult to climb the ladder quickly within the same company, so it is important to keep in mind that you may have to switch companies once or twice early on. This is becoming the norm, so you must adapt and have the proper mind set. Being in one right opportunity will led to more right opportunities.
Tasks: Are the tasks you will be performing for this company be valuable to other companies as well? You do not want to pigeon hole yourself into a job where what you do is so specific to the company that you will not be marketable to other companies. You want to be doing tasks that will build new skills and hon other skills. You want to be doing tasks that all companies value like reconciliations, balance sheet reviews, journal entries, financial analysis, auditing, and closing the books. Ideally, you want to be using the big ERP systems like SAP and Oracle to execute the tasks above. You want to be exposed to as much as you can as early as possible. You do not want to get stuck only doing Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, or Fixed Assets. These are valuable parts of the accounting department, but they are only a small part. The objective is to get exposure to all facets of accounting and build more skill sets.
Name Recognition: Working for a company with some name recognition is important, but not as important as the tasks you will be doing. When you begin looking for your next opportunity it is helpful having a recognized company on your resume because it helps build a little rapport with the hiring manager or HR manager tasked with the staffing. If the company’s name is familiar it is easier to recognize and gives them a slight idea about your experience. Ultimately, the person doing the staffing will look over your current job description, but recognizing the company you work for is a step in the right direction. It’s a lot easier to move from one Fortune 500 company to another or down to a regional company, than it is to move from a regional company to a Fortune 500 company. The thinking way is that if this candidate was qualified for that company than they are probably qualified for a job here. It is almost as if you current employer has screened you for your next employer. I recommend trying to stay with Fortune 500 companies at first because they have the deepest pockets in terms of pay and for the name recognition. However, a possible drawback is that because they are so big you might get pigeon toed into a position without a lot of exposure.
Growth: You need to find an opportunity within a company where you have the chance to advance within 2 years. This is important because the advancement usually translates to more money and it shows you are promotable. This will help when the next right opportunity presents itself. Now if title advancement is not possible within two years it is important that you will be at least be given new responsibilities within 2 years. This shows that you are growing and that it may be a mere policy keeping you from a title change.
*Title: Though it is important to be able to advance within a company do not get hung up on your title. Do not think that the next opportunity requires that you have a title change. Staff 1 or Associate may mean one thing at one company, but something different at another. The main focus is the salary. Another thing to consider is having a title that really does not match your years of experience. Being considered Controller of a mom and pops auto garage is not the same as being controller of a multi-billion dollar company. Companies know this. Do not take a job that falls into this category, the title is not impressive.