Career Advancement: Hope is Not a Strategy


Glenn Bass, CPA
Director of Recruiting, Security & Investigative Placement Consultants, LLC
Bethesda, Md.

Hope is not a strategy – most people know that expression because it’s applicable in many scenarios. It can certainly be applied to your career advancement in the fraud and investigations arena. As a specialized recruiter within the profession, I interact with CFEs from a myriad of industries and specialties. I find it interesting when candidates tell me they’re entering the job market for career advancement or because they can’t advance where they are. Equally interesting is that time and time again these candidates don’t have a plan in place for career advancement, rather it is left to chance or ‘hope.’

Developing and building a career as a CFE is a process that requires a strategic plan that can be executed. As you seek career advancement, think about these five actionable items:

  1. Research – This is a critical step in creating your career development plan. In fact, career development requires constant research. Research will help you ascertain where you are going and what steps are necessary to get there. Valuable research can be performed with your managers, peers, mentors or other CFEs outside of your company.
  2. Set Milestones - Career advancement can be looked upon as achieving a series of small steps leading to the ultimate goal. Perhaps your goal is to testify in court. Through your research, noted above, you will be able to set key milestones, each one getting you a step closer to gaining that testimony experience.
  3. Achieve – There is no better way to help your career advance than by overachievement. Be the best you can be. In speaking with multiple managers over the years, the most prevalent reason for promotion I’ve heard is outstanding performance. 
  4. Learn New Skills – Companies prefer and promote those employees who can perform on multiple levels and outside of their core areas. Seek opportunities to gain new experiences and build new skills. Continuing education, volunteering, gaining leadership roles in professional associations (i.e., your local ACFE chapter) and stepping up to take on new projects can be helpful in your career advancement.
  5. Self-Assessment – There is no one better qualified to understand who you are. Take time to evaluate your skills, abilities and desires to help pinpoint the areas of fraud and investigation that best suit you. This will help focus your efforts as you plan your career advancement strategy.

Remember, hope is not a strategy (well, not an effective one) as it relates to your career advancement. With an actionable strategy in place, you can take your career to the next level.

Find more career advice, resources and profiles in the ACFE's online Career Center.