3 Reasons NOT to use Resume Templates

Last week I saw comments by the CEO of Linkedin about the evolution of resumes. He is right that resumes are changing. Actually, they have been changing for a good 10 or so years with a clear focus on the ability to solve problems and deliver impacts rather than duties held and responsibilities performed. But …

A few days later, I saw that Linkedin and Microsoft have joined forces for a new Linkedin feature called “Resume Assistant.” DING DING DING! Perhaps Linkedin’s CEO had a bit of an agenda in mind when he made his resume comments.

Despite the fact that I hate resume templates, that is the first of my 3 reasons I would advise my CFO clients not to use this feature.

I hate resume templates

And most recruiters can spot them a mile away. All a resume template does is make you blend in rather than stand out from the competition. In this competitive job market, it is imperative to differentiate yourself from other candidates. What is different about how you, as a Finance Leader, solve problems and deliver impacts speaks directly to the challenge a company faces in hiring for culture fit.

Additionally, most templates do not allow you to use strategy to drive format. Rather, the templates are often format driven relegating strategy to second place.

Passive candidates are in high demand

When your resume is posted, the message – intentional or not – is that you are in active job search mode. Even if you are, advertising that can dilute your negotiating power. The perception is that something seemingly unattainable or hard to get is much more prized, valued, and desired.

My #1 reason for advising you to NOT use this template is …

If your resume is front and center on Linkedin (or any other public job board for that matter), there is no reason for a recruiter to pick up the phone, discuss his job requisition and search, give you an opportunity to articulate your value message, and ask for your resume. If you give them your resume upfront, the conversation may never take place. As a candidate, you want that conversation!

 

Copyright CFO-Coach 2017

***********************

Cindy Kraft is the CFO-Coach and America’s leading Career & Personal Brand Strategist for Corporate Finance Executives helping clients understand their marketability, articulate their value, and position themselves as the clear and compelling choice. She is a Certified Reach Personal Brand Strategist, Certified Reach Online Identity Strategist, Certified Career Management Coach, Certified Professional Resume Writer, and Job & Career Transition Coach. Cindy can be reached via email Cindy@CFO-Coach.com, by phone 813-655-0658, or through her website at www.CFO-Coach.com.

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The Challenging C-Level Job Search

It can take 9-12 months to find that next right-fitting position … are never words my prospective Finance Executive clients want to hear. However, setting up realistic expectations ultimately translates to less frustration and impatience during what can be a very long and challenging journey.

Recently I participated in a conversation on Facebook that spoke directly to this issue. The original post noted that on average, it takes 42-70 days to fill a job vacancy. That comment quickly turned to the length of a C-level search.

This conversation again points to the wisdom of starting an executive job search well in advance of wanting or needing a new position. In fact, recognizing that being employed only means you are between searches is the key to executing good career management habits and facilitating smoother transitions.

Whether your search takes 4 months, 6 months, or 12+ months, there are a few things you can be doing while you are still gainfully and happily employed and thinking about your next career step.

Remember that finding the right fit takes time.

Attracting recruiters and companies who need what you bring to the table and are willing to pay, and pay well, to get it takes intentionality … and time. If you are considering making a move within the next 12-18 months, it is not too early to begin the process.

The pursued has the most power.

When you are being pursued (vs. doing the pursing), you occupy the power position in compensation negotiations. Make sure your marketable value message is compelling and visible to the companies and recruiters who need to know about your career contributions and impacts so they can find you when they need a CFO with your talent.

Balance is key!

The best Chief Financial Officer positions are rarely found on public job boards. Executing a balanced search plan that includes a strong network, visibility among your target market and recruiters, and a proactive campaign aimed at companies on your hit list will garner much better results than a search plan that consists primarily of forwarding your resume to blind ads.

When you have the luxury of time, you can afford to wait for that right-fitting opportunity rather than make a choice out of desperation that may or may not be the right fit.

 

Copyright CFO-Coach 2017

***********************

Cindy Kraft is the CFO-Coach and America’s leading Career & Personal Brand Strategist for Corporate Finance Executives helping clients understand their marketability, articulate their value, and position themselves as the clear and compelling choice. She is a Certified Reach Personal Brand Strategist, Certified Reach Online Identity Strategist, Certified Career Management Coach, Certified Professional Resume Writer, and Job & Career Transition Coach. Cindy can be reached via email Cindy@CFO-Coach.com, by phone 813-655-0658, or through her website at www.CFO-Coach.com.

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Rejection and the Job Search Process

Nine years ago I wrote an article about the train wreck known as the job search process. Not much has changed since then. In fact, last week a Director of Recruiting & Training, who just happens to be in the midst of her own job search, posted on Linkedin about the various ways candidates can be rejected. Beyond being a horror story, it is an eye-opening and sobering read, and at the time of this posting there were probably 10 or so “named” ways of being rejected as a candidate.

Here are two of my thoughts on the interviewing part of the job search process.

Rejection Just Might be the Hardest Part of the Job Search

It seems like it should be so easy … find a posted position that fits your skills perfectly, send off your resume, and wait – and wait – and wait. More often than not, what you hear is silence. On a good day, you might get a canned thanks, but no thanks response.

The same thing can happen in the interview process. You walk away thinking you nailed it or the recruiter sounds all hot-to-trot to present you, and again – rejection is the frequent response.

Job searching and interviewing are not for the faint-of-heart. It is a tough journey, it can take several attempts to get to yes, and even the most confident CFO can take a beating while getting to that yes. Like in sales, rejection is part of the process. It is just not the fun part. It is the reason I evangelize the premise of looking for your next position while you are still gainfully, and perhaps even happily, employed. The effect of rejection is exacerbated when you are unemployed.

The fact remains, however, that many Finance Leaders ARE unemployed and looking for that next opportunity. Many of my CFO clients over the years have verbalized their frustration at the unprofessional and discourteous way post-interview interactions, or lack thereof, are handled. It is completely understandable … because it is a broken process that favors the company and not the candidate.

It’s Not Over Until You Are Gainfully Employed …

Don’t let up, even a little bit, on your job search activities until you have a signed, sealed, and delivered employment agreement AND you are actually in the first day of your new job. Derailment can happen anytime through this process; meaning, it is not a done deal until the deal is finished. Walking away from an interview you believe you nailed and thinking you can now coast can prove to be a grave mistake.

It isn’t over until the first day you are gainfully employed. Even then, don’t stop all your networking activities. You may just need those contacts again in the future.

 

Copyright CFO-Coach 2017

***********************

Cindy Kraft is the CFO-Coach and America’s leading Career & Personal Brand Strategist for Corporate Finance Executives helping clients understand their marketability, articulate their value, and position themselves as the clear and compelling choice. She is a Certified Reach Personal Brand Strategist, Certified Reach Online Identity Strategist, Certified Career Management Coach, Certified Professional Resume Writer, and Job & Career Transition Coach. Cindy can be reached via email Cindy@CFO-Coach.com, by phone 813-655-0658, or through her website at www.CFO-Coach.com.

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3 Keys for Navigating the Job Search Maze

Have you ever been, or even felt, utterly lost?

A few years ago, 2011 to be exact, I was headed to Phil Campbell, Alabama to help following the E5 tornado that devastated that town. Having never been there before and being incredibly directionally challenged, I was completely dependent on my GPS to get me there. Unbeknownst to me AND apparently my GPS, I was following the path the tornado took and several of the roads I needed to travel were blocked by downed trees. I was horribly lost. A gas tank that seemed to be leaking fuel only enhanced my feelings of panic. I was alone and I was lost and I was panicked – not a good combination when faced with trying to resolve a perceived threatening situation.

I know, because my CFOs tell me, that sometimes the job search can evoke the same sorts of feelings. Maybe not all three and maybe not to the extreme, but especially men who hold the breadwinner perspective and have families to support can and do struggle when it comes to participating in the ugly and confusing world of job searching that is often full of either rejection or silence.

Here are 3 keys for combating those negative feelings should any of them rear their ugly heads.

Alone

Navigating the job search maze alone can be overwhelming, especially when there is no objective voice bringing balance to a challenging journey. Even a supportive spouse or family member, when faced with a longer-than-anticipated search, can begin to doubt the wisdom of searching.

The truth is, especially at the C-level, the search is almost always longer than it could/should be. There are only so many Chief Financial Officer positions and companies are terrified of making a costly wrong hire.

Be sure your support system is solidly in place for the long haul.

Lost

How to actually conduct an effective job search is often a mystery to my Finance Executives. They have spent years immersed in doing their jobs with great loyalty to the companies and teams they have helped lead, so when it comes to identifying their next opportunity, they can be at a loss.

At the senior level, the job board black hole is not your friend. Despite how easy the boards seem, the posted position game is neither easy nor particularly effective.

Navigating the job search maze requires a balanced plan that is both proactive and passive … networking and creating visibility among your target audience.

Panicked

My panic was born of having a plan that did not allow for contingencies. A paper map, while maybe not being extremely helpful, would have helped me get my bearings.

Panic (or worry or fear or anxiety) can set in when we don’t have a plan, or a plan that is flexible. If your sole strategy is playing the posted position game or posting something like this on Linkedin …

“looking for my next meaningful CFO role”

… something akin to panic is a likely outcome when weeks turn into months and you find yourself lost in the silence that is too often a big part of the job search process.

Create a balanced, flexible plan that plays to the things you do well and will commit to doing, and then execute that plan consistently and constantly … and start well in advance of when you would like to make a move.

I did, finally, get to Phil Campbell, and it was an experience I am not likely to ever forget! Sometimes the best thing we can say about a difficult journey is … there is often great room for growth in the midst of it.

 

Copyright CFO-Coach 2017

***********************

Cindy Kraft is the CFO-Coach and America’s leading Career & Personal Brand Strategist for Corporate Finance Executives helping clients understand their marketability, articulate their value, and position themselves as the clear and compelling choice. She is a Certified Reach Personal Brand Strategist, Certified Reach Online Identity Strategist, Certified Career Management Coach, Certified Professional Resume Writer, and Job & Career Transition Coach. Cindy can be reached via email Cindy@CFO-Coach.com, by phone 813-655-0658, or through her website at www.CFO-Coach.com.

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If Only Finding Your Next CFO Position was This Easy!

I just saw another CFO organization jump into the “job board” postings game. If only finding your next Chief Finance role could be that easy. See a posting, send off your resume, get the job. Except, it’s not that easy and it rarely works well for the candidate. The truth is, job searching requires hard work and effort … and finding that next right opportunity often takes longer than anyone anticipates.

Please don’t misunderstand. I am not dead set against job postings, although I can’t say I am in favor of them either. The important thing is to keep the job board strategy in proper perspective. Since only about 10% of positions are posted – and most of those are NOT the top-quality positions a CFO is usually seeking – that means only about 10% of your overall job search time should be spent playing the job posting game. It seems like an easy way to find a job. It isn’t. Maybe attaching and sending off your resume is easy, but usually it is not fruitful because thousands of other candidates think it is easy, too.

If you really want to move into that next, right-fitting opportunity, avoid the posted position trap as the sole strategy for finding it. Know your value, practice articulating it clearly and succinctly in a manner that begs follow-up questions, and build and nurture a vibrant network. Those activities will yield far better results than sending off your resume to a job posting.

Copyright CFO-Coach 2017

***********************

Cindy Kraft is the CFO-Coach and America’s leading Career & Personal Brand Strategist for Corporate Finance Executives helping clients understand their marketability, articulate their value, and position themselves as the clear and compelling choice. She is a Certified Reach Personal Brand Strategist, Certified Reach Online Identity Strategist, Certified Career Management Coach, Certified Professional Resume Writer, and Job & Career Transition Coach. Cindy can be reached via email Cindy@CFO-Coach.com, by phone 813-655-0658, or through her website at www.CFO-Coach.com.

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Are We Losing the Ability to Right Write?

Yes, I did that intentionally, and it was incredibly painful to do so. But the question remains … are we? Which begs another question … does it matter?

Many years ago, a 5th grade English teacher told me that she instructed her class to write an essay. Half the class turned in a “text” version (u r c-ing an xample rite here). She also told me that outside of spelling class, incorrectly spelled words did not matter. I remember being completely shocked at the time, but I am even more shocked as I see what passes for “English” on social media.

I can almost – almost – look the other way on Facebook. Almost. As someone who makes a living writing, it is very challenging. However, seeing the complete inability to use proper grammar, spelling, and sentence structure on Linkedin, a professional network and the digital home for many executives, is distressing and worrisome.

A week or so ago, I saw a comment by a CEO of a small company. Perhaps this person was educated in a school where text talk in essay writing was okay and spelling did not matter. I took a snapshot of the comment, but cannot bear to post the graphic. Suffice it to say, there was no punctuation, not even periods to end sentences, and therefore, no initial caps to begin new sentences. It was 8 lines of text containing, I think, 5 sentences – but I cannot be sure. This from a person with a title of Chief Executive Officer.

Now, the CFOs with whom I deal are typically 45+ and, like me for the most part, hold the belief that the English rules of punctuation, grammar, and spelling apply, even if we don’t always get the latter correct. And I believe that those in positions to hire C-suite executives care, at least for now, about their executive team’s ability to write coherently, logically, and legibly.

I would caution people that everything on social media that is posted by you can be found by others, and that your digital footprint has the ability to make or break your candidacy for certain positions. If you cannot, or chose not to, write a legible post or comment on Linkedin, why ever might one believe you could or would be able to do so in a senior leadership role where communication skills are so vitally important?

So I am curious what you think … does it matter in this day and age whether or not we can write right?

Copyright CFO-Coach 2017

***********************

Cindy Kraft is the CFO-Coach and America’s leading Career & Personal Brand Strategist for Corporate Finance Executives helping clients understand their marketability, articulate their value, and position themselves as the clear and compelling choice. She is a Certified Reach Personal Brand Strategist, Certified Reach Online Identity Strategist, Certified Career Management Coach, Certified Professional Resume Writer, and Job & Career Transition Coach. Cindy can be reached via email Cindy@CFO-Coach.com, by phone 813-655-0658, or through her website at www.CFO-Coach.com.

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The Proverbial Elevator Speech

Every time I hear the term “elevator speech,” it makes me cringe. I know it serves a purpose and I’ll talk about that in a minute, but most people use an elevator speech to talk “at” people – about themselves – far too often. That is especially true when one is in job search mode. Think about a wife talking at her husband, or vice versa. How much listening is really happening? Or, is the other person …

– planning what s/he is going to say next;

– mentally wondering what else is on his “to do” list;

– trying to determine how soon he can disengage from the me-centered conversation; or

– strategically scanning the room to see who else is there?

That is a consequence of using an elevator speech when a back-and-forth conversation would be much more effective. Such communication is much easier when you understand your value and can articulate it in problem-solving language. When asked what do you do, there are conversation stoppers and more intriguing conversation hooks with which to respond. For example,

I am a CFO for XYZ Company; or

I help small mid-cap companies meet their growth objectives.

The first response is typical and completely misses the value piece of a message. Short of something like how long have you been there, the conversation is on its way to a quick end. Conversely, the latter response invites a follow-up question. If you are skillful at handling the follow-up questions, you can keep the conversation flowing while simultaneously creating rock-solid problem solving positioning.

Save your elevator speech – that 60-to-90 second spiel that tells people about you – for round table networking events and when answering the question “tell me about yourself” during an interview or in a conversation with a recruiter. At that point, it is both appropriate and useful because your written marketing documents (resume, cover letter, leadership brief) and digital footprint have already answered the value question.

Proverbial or not, I do not believe an elevator speech is appropriate when you are standing in an elevator or attending a networking event. Talking at people will never be as effective as engaging people by talking with them.

Copyright CFO-Coach 2017

***********************

Cindy Kraft is the CFO-Coach and America’s leading Career & Personal Brand Strategist for Corporate Finance Executives helping clients understand their marketability, articulate their value, and position themselves as the clear and compelling choice. She is a Certified Reach Personal Brand Strategist, Certified Reach Online Identity Strategist, Certified Career Management Coach, Certified Professional Resume Writer, and Job & Career Transition Coach. Cindy can be reached via email Cindy@CFO-Coach.com, by phone 813-655-0658, or through her website at www.CFO-Coach.com.

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Do You Need a Disrupting Irma in Your Job Search?

There is nothing like a Cat 5 hurricane bearing down on your state to make you put your priorities into perspective. This is one of those times when I’m thankful I don’t live on the coast, but I’m not sure this particular monster cares much about location. She is bigger than Michigan, twice as big as Alabama, with winds far exceeding the Cat 5 minimums. Talk about a disrupter.

It did get me thinking about what it takes for most of us to be disrupted in our lives to the point of actually taking some action or a different action. It seems to be human nature to be content with misery rather than to risk pursuing and embracing change.

Maybe, as a job seeker, you need a personal “Irma disruption” in your life. Granted, a job search doesn’t cause the kind of physical devastation that a hurricane does … but an extended job search can feel pretty devastating. Stephanie Carson wrote about the ugly side of being unemployed and job searching.

What would happen if you disrupted the status of your current job search?

Your Plan is Only YOUR Plan

And YOUR plan is only as good as all of the external elements cooperating. Much like a hurricane, the job search process can have a lot of un-cooperating aspects …

– A lack of right-fitting opportunities

– The black hole phenomenon

– The ineffective spaghetti strategy

– Far too few responses.

If your plan isn’t working, it might be time to ditch it and do something new and different. The bottom line, though, is that you need a plan.

Refocus on what is Really Important

Usually in an executive job search, what is most important is a strong network. It takes time and effort to build, and most CFOs are quick to tell me they don’t have a strong network in place.

Besides, searching job postings online is easier and infinitely more comfortable … right? It might be easier and even comfortable, but it is definitely not an effective job search strategy for senior finance executives. Refocusing your efforts on building a strong network will ultimately provide a much greater ROI.

Become Other Focused

Who needs your particular problem solving skill set? Sometimes we can become so focused on duties and responsibilities that we forget good marketing means being able to meet the need of someone in a position to buy what you’re selling. In a job search, you are selling yourself.

Hurricane prep is all about “me.” But the reality is, post-hurricane it is all about community. The job search is all about you finding a new position. From a company’s perspective, it is all about what you can do for it.

Fortunately, my business is portable so Irma‘s disruption to my life and business is, hopefully, significantly reduced. My thoughts and prayers go out to those who are in her direct path and to the many first responders standing at the ready.

Copyright CFO-Coach 2017

***********************

Cindy Kraft is the CFO-Coach and America’s leading Career & Personal Brand Strategist for Corporate Finance Executives helping clients understand their marketability, articulate their value, and position themselves as the clear and compelling choice. She is a Certified Reach Personal Brand Strategist, Certified Reach Online Identity Strategist, Certified Career Management Coach, Certified Professional Resume Writer, and Job & Career Transition Coach. Cindy can be reached via email Cindy@CFO-Coach.com, by phone 813-655-0658, or through her website at www.CFO-Coach.com.

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Don’t Do This to Your Network

If you have read any of my previous articles, you know I believe that a strong network is an integral part of the job search process, especially at the executive level. Strong is the operative word because anything less might result in committing this kind of fatal networking mistake.

“Hey stranger – I hope you are doing well. Does your daughter still work for XXXX? There is an opening in XXX I am interested in.”

Notice the introduction … Stranger. Yep, that is pretty much what we are. The 6-word polite inquiry into how I am doing is merely that … polite, and a vehicle to get to the real purpose … perhaps gaining an edge.

Or, so I thought. After a few email exchanges, she said she was merely curious about whether or not it was a good company. Asking that specific question would have been a more palatable request. Regardless of intent, I don’t think I am amiss in saying this kind of request can be a networking killer.

Here are 3 don’ts in networking for a new position.

Don’t think you have trust and relationship where you don’t

If you haven’t worked on your networking relationships, don’t expect trust –or help- to be in place or even available. When you burn and churn even a fledgling network, you quickly destroy it and then have nothing.

Don’t take without first giving

The “golden rule” in networking is give to get. That means, you build before you use. The best way to do the building is to give others help, support, advice, referrals, and recommendations before you need them yourself.

Don’t burn and churn your network

If you do take the time to build a network in anticipation of making a move sometime in the future, then continue to nurture it long after you land that new position. Requesting and taking help from a contact, and then dropping that person like a hot potato once their ability to help is gone, just might mean they will not be willing, or make themselves available, to help in the future.

Most CFOs are so busy working their jobs that working a network has not been a priority. However, good networking strategies are a great career management habit for all executives and leaders.

Copyright CFO-Coach 2017

***********************

Cindy Kraft is the CFO-Coach and America’s leading Career & Personal Brand Strategist for Corporate Finance Executives helping clients understand their marketability, articulate their value, and position themselves as the clear and compelling choice. She is a Certified Reach Personal Brand Strategist, Certified Reach Online Identity Strategist, Certified Career Management Coach, Certified Professional Resume Writer, and Job & Career Transition Coach. Cindy can be reached via email Cindy@CFO-Coach.com, by phone 813-655-0658, or through her website at www.CFO-Coach.com.

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5 Reasons to Hire a Resume Writer

Last week one of my colleagues wrote an article opining that no one should ever hire a resume writer. Rather, candidates should all enroll in her *paid* class so she can teach them how to write their own resume. It is definitely a choice.

I’m going to offer the flip side of why it makes sense for most people, particularly C-suite executives, to hire a resume writer.

Writing is not your forte

As a CFO, your area of expertise is finance, and operations, and possibly IT, and quite possibly you oversee HR, legal, real estate, construction, purchasing, to name a few. None of my finance clients, though, have ever told me that they felt they excelled at writing their own marketing documents.

However, if you do excel at writing about yourself … fabulous! Just be sure you are writing through the lens of value.

You are surrounded by your own paradigms

And those paradigms are usually responsibilities held and duties performed. It is tough to be competitive when relying on things you did rather than how you delivered. And sometimes, it is challenging to step out of that perspective and look at your contributions through the lens of value. It is precisely why athletes hire coaches. The coach can see and evaluate performance from a different perspective.

My one caveat to hiring a resume writer would be when working together is all superficial without being an authentic representation of who you are, how you communicate, and your clear and compelling value as a leader who solves problems. In that case, save your money and do it yourself.

You have one chance to make a first impression

Whether that first impression comes through your resume or a networking contact or your Linkedin profile, your written documents, elevator pitch (if you use one), and introduction all need to convey an integrated value message.

Your value message must be cohesive across all your marketing documents

That does not mean that your documents should be repetitive or redundant. In fact, they should be the opposite. Think of your marketing documents (resume, cover letter, Linkedin profile, leadership brief) as building blocks. Every time a company decision maker or recruiter looks at another one of your documents, they should see more and more evidence, credibility, and viability as the problem solver they want and need.

You have support with a vested interest in your success

Job searching is not for the faint-of-heart. Even with a top-notch resume, if you don’t know how to use it effectively, it probably won’t do what you need it to do. Sometimes, it is nice to know that you have an objective coach in your corner who can keep you accountable and provide support and insight.

If you are a Chief Financial Officer or up-and-coming CFO who is ready to make that great first impression with a compelling value message as a problem solver who delivers tangible impacts, let’s talk. Historically, we see the middle of September as the beginning of an active job search season so the time to get ready is now!

Copyright CFO-Coach 2017

***********************

Cindy Kraft is the CFO-Coach and America’s leading Career & Personal Brand Strategist for Corporate Finance Executives helping clients understand their marketability, articulate their value, and position themselves as the clear and compelling choice. She is a Certified Reach Personal Brand Strategist, Certified Reach Online Identity Strategist, Certified Career Management Coach, Certified Professional Resume Writer, and Job & Career Transition Coach. Cindy can be reached via email Cindy@CFO-Coach.com, by phone 813-655-0658, or through her website at www.CFO-Coach.com.

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