The CFO of Today and Tomorrow

Although this article from Laura Miles at Bain & Company was written a year ago, I think it quite accurately address the challenges CFOs face in maximizing value for their companies.

These points also translate pretty well to a Finance Chief’s secret weapon in marketable positioning when he decides it is time to move on to a new opportunity. This summation by Ms. Miles …

Only after you determine where to excel, understand your starting point and lay plans for closing the gap can the finance function be the strategic partner it needs to be.

… lays the groundwork for compelling C-A-R+SI stories for value positioning. Challenge – Action – Result + Strategic Impact. What challenges, problems, situations, issues can / have you solved; how; what are the measurable impacts to the bottom-line; and how have your efforts strategically positioned the company?

Understanding what you love doing, do well, and want to do more of in your next role fosters the self-awareness of your unique problem-solving abilities within your sweet spot. You can then articulate your value through the lens of solving problems and adding value to the executive team of prospective companies.

Oh, there are shortcuts …

— focusing on duties and responsibilities because that is a comfortable paradigm requiring zero effort;

–  using impacts, even measurable impacts, but with no context for the reader to understand the associated problem-solving capabilities; or

– creating marketing documents (resume, Linkedin profile, cover letters) that are so superficial in nature that any true ability to add value is not readily apparent.

However, when competing for those coveted, and limited, Chief Finance Officer roles, making sure you understand your value increases …

– your opportunity to win that strategic partner position in a right-fitting company; and

– that company hiring the exact, right candidate because it clearly understood – and needed – your problem-solving skills.

It’s a win for all sides!

 

Copyright CFO-Coach 2018

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

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 813-727-3037, or through her website at www.CFO-Coach.com.

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What is Your Status?

During job search coaching sessions with clients, we always talk about the importance of Linkedin as a critical piece of a balanced search strategy. What is vital to remember, though, is that merely “building” a compelling profile is only the first step when your goal is to create visibility and attract opportunities.

When I did a search using “CFO” today, I got 443,837 results. That … is a lot of Finance Chiefs! Clearly key words are important to your profile, but I would also suggest that using the status update bar is a gold nugget strategy most Chief Finance Officers do not fully utilize.

Look at this stat on the impact of posting a status update …

One status update can occupy up to 80% of the feed screen, pretty impressive real estate. With the right kind of LinkedIn status updates, you can make a huge difference in the amount of visibility and attention that you receive.

I recognize that my CFOs are busy people. Most are barely engaged on Linkedin and a big fear is that using any social media requires an inordinate amount of time and energy. My philosophy is that consistency and constancy really rule the day; meaning, be constantly consistent in utilizing the status update bar howeverthat fits into your schedule. If posting once a week is something to which you can commit, then be constantly consistent about your weekly posting.

In social media, “build it and they will come” just does not apply … because there are always new players coming to the table. By strategically using the status update function, you can separate yourself from the competition with updates that showcase your thought leadership and your branded positioning.

If you want to boost your visibility on Linkedin, give me a call. I would be delighted to help you!

 

Copyright CFO-Coach 2018

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

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 813-727-3037, or through her website at www.CFO-Coach.com.

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Social Media Overreach

If you’ve been following my articles and posts for any length of time, you know that I am an avid believer that Linkedin is a MUST for CFOs and Finance Executives. From a professional perspective, Linkedin is the best of what is available for building a robust and compelling digital footprint, sans your own website. And today, a digital footprint is a necessity for any Finance Leader who anticipates a job search at some future point.

As in any job search, maintaining control is imperative. In order to retain control of your Linkedin profile, I suggest becoming familiar with the privacy settings in your account.

To do that, log into “Settings & Privacy” through the dropdown box at the top left underneath your picture. Once you are there, take a look around. You might be very surprised at the default settings Linkedin has chosen for you.

For example, under the first section in the “Privacy” category, there is a sub-category called “Microsoft Word” which says this …

I don’t know about you, but after I invested sweat equity in creating a compelling profile that is unique to me, I am not at all interested in Microsoft Word “taking” my carefully crafted language and using it in their “Resume Assistant” feature.

Which brings me to a second point. If you really want to stand out from the crowd, don’t use a resume template program that gives you canned phrases to fill in the blanks. You need to own your message and it needs to convey your marketable value. Otherwise, you run the risk of being perceived as a commodity -or- inauthentic when your verbal message doesn’t align with your written message.

A resume and Linkedin profile are not superficial strategies, or at least they shouldn’t be. They are, and should be, the culmination of the hard work to uncover and hone your value messaging to your target audience. And a resume template program should not be permitted to “take” your carefully crafted messaging … at least in my humble opinion.

 

Copyright CFO-Coach 2018

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

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 813-727-3037, or through her website at www.CFO-Coach.com.

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What is Your Value?

Nick Corcodilos published a blog post discussing a candidate’s value. It’s very good. Two comments in particular are relevant for my CFO audience.

<<I think the big mistake people make is that they try to view their worth, or value, in absolute terms. That is, they think there’s a number — a certain amount of money, or a money range — that they deserve based on their experience, credentials, knowledge, skills and so on.>>

The vast majority of resumes that cross my desk from Chief Financial Office prospects are focused on duties, responsibilities, skills, and key words. It is so incredibly difficult, if not outright impossible, to compete on those things. And none of those, in and of themselves, establish your value or your worth.

<<I think value and worth are in the eye of the beholder. It’s why sales people exist! Their job is to make something they’re selling seem more valuable to you so that you’ll pay more to get it.>>

While not always easy for Finance Executives, this is actually the key to establishing your marketable value AND differentiation from your competition AND positioning for a top-tier compensation package. Your value lies in your ability to solve problems and deliver tangible impacts.

Establish your value, both in your verbal and written messaging, by first identifying your problem-solving abilities – how have you resolved a company’s issues, situations, challenges – and then detailing the tangible impact that allowed the company to achieve its goal, avoid impending negative outcomes, or mitigate or eliminate potential risks.

Every time you speak from the place of solving problems and delivering impacts, your value – in the eyes of prospective companies – is solidified. It is not about “what” you do … it is about “how” you do what you do.

Want to know how to clearly articulate your value? Give me a call!

 

Copyright CFO-Coach 2018

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

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 813-727-3037, or through her website at www.CFO-Coach.com.

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3 Career Questions for CFOs

Recently Forbes published an article on the 10 biggest changes expected in finance this year. The author asked the question …

“Can your business evolve with the trends shaping the industry
or will it lag behind and suffer the consequences?”

Perhaps the same could be asked for you professionally in your role as a Chief Financial Officer.

– Can you remain solely focused on numbers and be competitive with those CFOs who are also intimately engaged with operational functions?

– Can you rely on duties and responsibilities to move you to your next role to the exclusion of clearly illustrating and articulating your track record of solving problems and delivering tangible impacts?

And finally,

– Can you afford to wait until you need a job before you begin thinking about your next (or first) CFO role?

My professional opinion is that the answer to each of those questions is a resounding “no.” At least, not without suffering consequences … perhaps extending an already agonizingly long job search.

While the average tenure of a Finance Chief is roughly 5 years, the reality is that nothing is guaranteed. Companies come and companies go; they are sold and acquired; and for the most part, the Finance Leader is only loved, and retained, as long as the bottom-line is showing a healthy profit.

With Finance Executive tenure trends in mind, I would encourage you to …

-identify and leverage your differentiating niche,
-hone your problem-solving messaging, and
-get on the radar screen of those organizations who need to know about you.

And, consider doing all three sooner rather than later.

 

Copyright CFO-Coach 2018

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

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 813-727-3037, or through her website at www.CFO-Coach.com.

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Job Search is Like Sales, Sort of …

A recent post on aggressive salespeople and the many across-the-board responses caught my attention. Perhaps because of the endless sales emails and phone calls I receive for products and services that have absolutely nothing to do with my business, push salespeople qualify as one of my pet peeves.

It also got me thinking about how similar being in a job search is to being a salesperson. For example …

It Requires Persistence

While other salespeople might appreciate persistence to the point of being annoying, most of the people CFOs will be reaching out to probably hold a different, and less patient, view. “No thanks” means exactly that, and pushing your unwanted and unsolicited agenda will not work in your favor.

This is where a correct mindset of job search really comes into play. While you are ultimately seeking a job, your first and primary goal is building relationships and visibility around a target audience who is in a position to hire you. So be persistent … just be persistent in the most effective way.

Building Relationships is Key

Pushing yourself, your product, or your service at someone with whom you have no relationship has a high potential to fail. The fundamental business rule that people do business with people they know, like, trust, and value is a key component to effectiveness.

Chief Financial Officers don’t have much “spare” time, which is why networking needs to become an appointment on a very busy calendar and one that you choose to keep. It will yield a greater ROI when it comes time to search for that next, right-fitting position.

Recommendations garner higher (much higher) interest among potential employers than cold-calling ever will. So don’t pitch … build!

Always Speak to the Need

Really good salespeople get this concept. Conversely, the dime-a-dozen emails and phone calls from the other sales sector are really nothing more than spam. Every savvy job search candidate, whether active or passive, needs to understand the importance of being a problem-solver who can clearly articulate his ability to solve the specific kinds of problems a company is experiencing.

Your value to a company is rooted in your problem-solving abilities, and you will be most effective when your messaging always flows from that place of value.

– Persistently build your network and visibility
– Get a recommendation to ge in the door, and
– Speak to need

and you will be well on your way to effectively selling yourself without alienating your prospects.

 

Copyright CFO-Coach 2018

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

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 813-727-3037, or through her website at www.CFO-Coach.com.

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Is There a “CFO” List?

Negative publicity is still publicity, right? Not in my book. Once we form a negative opinion about a company or brand, it takes monumental effort to have our perspective altered. Unfortunately, sometimes we deal with those companies and brands anyway … complaining all the while. My love/hate relationship with Facebook is evidence of a company (and controlled platform) I dislike but use anyway even as I grumble.

I am sure no CFO would be pleased to find their company on the “20 Most Hated Companies” list. That is negative publicity no Senior Executive would enthusiastically welcome.

Reading that list, though, caused me to wonder … might there be a “most wanted” recruiter list for Chief Finance Officers? Obviously not a public list, but quite possibly some kind of internal list probably does exist. If such a list does exist, perhaps it would look something like this …

Top Notch Candidates

This list would be comprised of those visible, known, and accomplished candidates who are employed and in high demand. If you are constantly getting calls from recruiters for exactly the kinds of positions you would be seeking in your next role, then you have probably made this list.

Been There, Done That … No Thanks

If you’ve burned a recruiter or company; pretended to be something or someone you clearly are not – and been discovered; quit a position before you ever walked in the door on your first day; or have a tendency to treat anyone other than a decision-maker with condescension … you could find yourself on this list. And it could be a list that is not only shared internally, but also within the very small world of recruiting. It seems like negative publicity gets faster notice than positive publicity far too often … and job search candidates are not immune from that notice.

Unknown

This isn’t really a list, but a blank sheet. If you are unknown and choose to stay that way, you will never make it onto either of the other two lists. But, if you desire to be known and become a credible, viable, sought-after candidate, this presents an opportunity to position yourself as a top-notch candidate. Basically, you have a blank canvas and endless opportunity.

Need help getting on that “Top-Notch CFO Candidate” list? Give me a call. I would love to help you if I can.

 

Copyright CFO-Coach 2018

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

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 813-727-3037, or through her website at www.CFO-Coach.com.

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The Stealth CFO Job Search

This is a pretty good article from FM-Magazine on seeking a new opportunity while you are gainfully employed. While it is not always easy to do, executing good passive strategies is certainly the most beneficial approach for any CFO candidate.

You know this. I know you know this. It is both sad and true.

Oftentimes, there is a stigma and a bias
against the unemployed.

Nothing has really changed – except location. All your skills, all your contributions, all your accomplishments, and your stellar career climb – you still own them. The difference, and a big one, is where you are standing … outside the company door rather than inside your office. Because you have the best positioning and the most power as a passive candidate, it behooves every executive to keep in mind Matt Bud’s (Financial Executives Networking Group) daily mantra: You are only ever between searches. Unless, of course, you are getting ready to retire.

With the above in mind, I want to add my 2 cents to the article …

Linkedin

Yes, in this age of social media, a Linkedin profile is the expectation. But a placeholder won’t suffice. Not if you really want to compete against, and more importantly, stand out from, your competition. It requires a robust, compelling, and value-oriented profile that leverages the Linkedin algorithm and creates interest.

If your profile is not complete (according to Linkedin’s definition), you will not come up at the top of recruiter searches. Your goal is compelling and complete … and that includes giving and getting recommendations as well as joining groups.

Networking

It’s a must. Social media is great, but the real value of social media for Chief Financial Officers and other executives is building visibility among a targeted audience. Job search – passive and active – requires face-to-face networking.

And yes, the very best time to build your network is while you are gainfully employed and between searches.

Let me know if I can help you structure and execute your passive job search plan!

 

Copyright CFO-Coach 2018

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

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 813-727-3037, or through her website at www.CFO-Coach.com.

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When Seeking a CFO Position …

… it isn’t necessarily over when you think it seems to be over.

What I mean is that there a couple of factors at play that, despite not being selected initially for a job you want, could mean the position may come into play again in the near future.

Take for example, the story about Louisville University being forced to restart its CFO search. One week before he was supposed to begin, the newly-named CFO decided not to take the job. A strong runner-up candidate, who took the extra steps to stay on the search team’s radar while reiterating his interest in the position, could be the obvious choice following a less than positive – not to mention expensive – hiring decision by the company.

The other factor is the incredibly high executive fail rate within 18 months of hire. Depending on who is doing the survey, that statistic is anywhere from 40% to 70%, with 5% failing spectacularly. While those stats can be mind numbing and frightening, the flip side is that they also present a second potential opportunity for a position with a company that is (or was) on your “crème de la crème” list. But, it requires nurturing those relationships with key decision-makers within that company so you are top of mind if/when things with its new CFO hire begin to spiral.

And finally, your position – unless it is your last before retirement – really only means you are currently not in active job search mode. In a perfect world and with good career management habits solidly in place, it would also mean that you are, always, in passive job search mode as you anticipate a smooth transition into your next dream position. Passive job search mode means you are executing two key strategies constantly and consistently … fostering a network (as opposed to growing a rolodex) and building your visibility among your targeted companies. Being pursued for your next opportunity puts you in a much greater position of power when it comes time to negotiate your compensation package.

It is the last day of January … how is your job search going?

 

Copyright CFO-Coach 2018

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

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 813-727-3037, or through her website at www.CFO-Coach.com.

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The CPA and Other Finance Credentials

Does a CPA matter? What about a CMA? Or, the relatively new CCFO? Do any of them make you a better Finance Chief? That … is the age-old question and continuing debate. New year … same debate. See my 2010 and 2012 blog posts.

On one side of the table are the companies and CFOs who hold credentials. On the other side, are the companies and non-credentialed CFOs. I think the difference today centers on the evolving role of the Chief Financial Officer. With the continuing CFO sprawl (the Chief Financial Officer becoming the Chief Everything Officer or the Chief the-Buck-Stops-Here Officer) and being a strategic leader who sits at the executive table with deep involvement in all aspects of operations … does holding a CPA matter as much?

Having worked exclusively with finance leaders for almost 10 years, I have my own thoughts. And although they are unlikely to influence one side or the other, this seems to be the bottom-line …

What matters most is what your target audience believes they need and therefore wants.

If you are looking to make a move in the upcoming year, it is critically important to identify your target audience. If you don’t have a CPA but you are targeting companies who all “require” a CPA candidate, it is going to be a longer-than-usual, even more frustrating search. It is possible, some of my clients have breached that requirement, but it requires having such compelling problem-solving value that a company is willing to look past their own requirement.

At the risk of being redundant …

— Leverage your branded, problem-solving value.

— Identify who needs what you bring to the table.

— Play in that space.

— Build & nurture a strong network.

It is a new year, and I wish you all the best. If I can help you achieve your career goals in 2018, give me a call. I would be happy to help.

Copyright CFO-Coach 2018

 

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

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 813-727-3037, or through her website at www.CFO-Coach.com.

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