Big Four & Leading Accounting and Consulting Firms – news, opinion and career opportunities for aspiring & current professionals & alumni

Not made partner this time? Here’s what to do next.

Vote No CampaignIf you are reading this article because you’ve been unsuccessful in the partnership vote, then I feel for you. You are probably feeling pretty raw right now, even if it’s not a total surprise.  In this article, based on an extract from ‘Poised for partnership’, I look at  what you need to do to get back into the swing and recover from this knock-back. It’s not the end of the world that it may seem.

Don’t give up!  You’ve learned a lot

I know it’s become a cliché, but I can’t say it better than Nietzsche: “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”   Picking yourself up, dusting yourself off, and starting all over again is what will differentiate you from the rest.  Experiencing knockbacks is part of the hurly-burly of life in the professions and the more resilient you are, the better you will survive, and ultimately succeed.

This is what happened to a PWC partner from the US, his first-time refusal taught him some valuable lessons.

It may make you feel better to learn that it’s not unusual for people to be turned down the first time they go for partner.  There may be a number of reasons, not all to do with the strength of your case. You firm may not be able to offer partnership to every strong candidate this time round, for example.  In the Big 4 particularly, strong candidates may be ‘blooded’ with a refusal first time to make sure they are really up to the mark when they try again.

Understand what happened and how to react

I’ve said that now is not the time to throw in the towel. There are a number of useful things you can do:

  • Examine how you really feel. Be honest with yourself. Are you devastated, angry, ambivalent, or secretly relieved? Look at the cause of this feeling and use it to work out what your next career step should be.
  • Ask your mentor and sponsoring partner for both formal and informal feedback.  What do they believe were the weaknesses in your personal and business cases?
  • Book some time with your mentor to lick your wounds and re-centre yourself.
  • Behave with dignity. Hold your head high and remember all your achievements to date. Be gracious to everyone, you do not want to be closing any doors yet.

Press pause

It’s completely understandable if you want to hurl yourself back into the assault, but I urge you to stop for a moment. For the past few years, you’ve been aiming for partnership and your emotions have taken a heavy battering.  They are still all over the place and now is not the time to take an irreversible decision.  Reflect on how you feel and what you have learned. Think about the feedback, ask your support team what they think you should do next. There are many options open to you. For example:

  • Strengthen your case for partnership and go for it again next time.
  • Consider making partner in a different firm.
  • Forget your partnership ambitions for now and stay as you are.
  • Go into industry for different experiences.
  • Consider a career change.

When you have had this ‘time out’ and you are feeling calmer, then you can reset your goals and start planning how you will achieve them.

In summary therefore: it’s not the end of your dreams if you didn’t make it to partner. There is nothing to stop you trying again, and you now have some priceless lessons to make sure you win through next time.  Make sure you reassess your plans and make sure you are really going in the right direction. If it’s still what you want, then at least you’ve had the chance to double check. Our article on building a successful business case for partnership might be useful, as will many other of the resources on the How To Make Partner site.

Found this post useful?

Poised special offer smallThen get the complete inside track on making it successfully through partner track by buying your copy of Poised for partnership, by clicking on the link to get a 50% discount

This post originally appeared in a different form on the How To Make Partner  website.

Found this post useful? Then get the complete inside track on making it successfully through partner track by buying your copy of Poised for partnership, by clicking on the link to get a 50% discount

Author Credit

GTE thumbnail_100Heather Townsend helps professionals become the The Go-To Expert. She is the author of the  award winning and best-selling book on business networking, the ‘FT Guide To Business Networking’, Poised for partnership and the co-author of ‘How to make partner and still have a life’, and ‘The Go-To Expert’. Over the last decade she has worked with over 300 partners; coached, trained and mentored over 2000 professionals at every level of the UK’s most ambitious professional practices. 

Heather blogs regularly at How to make partner and still have a life and works with future and current Big 4 partners and professionals from mid-tier firms all over the world

Share this post:

Comments are closed.