Four Reasons for an Extended Job Search

In a recent phone conversation with a prospective CFO client, he asked me how long a job search might take. It’s a firebomb question, and the truth can be discouraging. It might take 3 months, 6 months, or more than a year. Because I want my clients to be reasonable in their expectations of what is ahead in that land mine known as “job search,” I am truthful with them.

My expertise is in creating a cohesive value message and giving my clients the tools to conduct an effective job search. However, the job market is the job market and the hiring process is incredibly flawed. That said, there are a few reasons why a job search can take longer than it should. These are my top 4 reasons why a job search may be extended … and age is not one of them.

Position you are seeking

There are limited Chief Financial Officer opportunities. In fact, opportunities are limited across the board in the C-suite. Add to that fact that hopefully you are seeking the right-fitting opportunity and not just any opportunity, and you can reasonably expect that your job search may be longer than you would like.

At the risk of beating a dead horse …

Lack of planning

Failing to plan is planning to fail. Because it can take time to secure that next right-fitting opportunity, it is incumbent upon a serious executive candidate to create and execute a job search plan in anticipation of a move well in advance of actually needing or wanting to move.

Keep in mind that the passive candidate (one who is open to new opportunities AND employed) has much more power (to negotiate a compensation package) than does the unemployed candidate. I am not saying that is right or fair; merely, that is the case more often than not.

One mitigating factor to my last statement is …

Strength of your network

I’ve covered this in my prior blog post. I find one of two things typical with my finance leaders. Either they have no network or they are not using their network effectively. If you truly want that next, right opportunity … the strength of your network and the effective use of your network matters.

Geographic area

You miss 100% of the opportunities that never cross your path. When you throw too narrow of a net in your job search, i.e., too small of a geographic area, the pool for those limited opportunities shrinks even further.

Two things happen when a geographic area is expanded. You may hear about …

– a dream opportunity in a location you just might be open to considering; or

– an opportunity right smack dab (that is a southern term of precision) in your preferred geographic area.

If you want to discuss how I can help you maximize your unique value in order to leverage your power positioning, give me a call.

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 You a CFO with the Goal of Being CEO?

I have thought for years that the Chief Financial Officer was a natural fit to step into the role of Chief Executive Officer, even before the expansion of the Finance Chief’s responsibilities. And while I still believe the facts support my perspective, the statistics of those finance leaders “actually” stepping into the top position at a company are quite low.

However, for those CFOs who have the CEO seat in their sights, Crist Kolder’s president says

“For about 80% of the CFO searches we’re doing, our clients are specifying that they want someone who can be a CEO successor someday.”

Regardless of whether your goal is your first CFO role, a new CFO position with more responsibility, a CFO position that leads to a CEO role, or our first Chief Executive Officer role, there are 3 things that are critically important to positioning yourself for any of those roles.

A cohesive message of being a leader who solves problems

Whether you are positioning yourself for an internal or external move, your ability to solve problems and deliver impacts matters … greatly. There are limited CFO and CEO opportunities in the marketplace. Separate yourself from the competition, who largely focus on duties and responsibilities, by concentrating on the challenge you faced, the potential risk or consequence of doing nothing, and the action(s) you took to resolve the issue and position the company to achieve its objective.

I have heard Finance Chiefs say … “if I can only get in front of someone, I can close the deal.” That’s great. But you need the opportunity to get in front of a decision maker. Your value message must be cohesive and flow throughout every written marketing document, including a Linkedin profile, as well as verbal messaging.

There is also a mistaken belief by internal candidates that they do not need to work as hard as external candidates. That is a flawed perspective. If anything, the internal candidate needs to be even more visible and vocal about his or her contributions. You might think the people who need to know do know, but your job is to make sure they know rather than assume they know.

Proven and recognizable soft skills

I talked about this in my previous blog post – In Demand CFOs – but it is worth repeating. You did not get to be a Chief Financial Officer because you do not have finance skills. But it might very well be the case that you miss out on a really great opportunity without proven soft skills.

A cone of influence

The truth is you need to know people who know people. Job boards are seductive, and ineffective. Recruiters want the perfect-fitting candidate and they don’t have a monopoly on the market. Your network is the best source of leads and referrals to those great opportunities you are seeking.

When you are looking for that first position – whether it is as a CFO or CEO – someone who knows you and can vouch for your ability to do the job just might be the influential lynchpin that gets you in the door.

A strong network cannot be understated for any executive candidate.

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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In Demand CFOs

An opinion post appearing in the North Bay Business Journal certainly seems to be spot on in identifying the traits of an accomplished CFO. I’ll add my thoughts on two things that I believe are critically important.

<<As the role of the chief financial officer continues to evolve, the most effective CFOs are those who continue to add value beyond the traditional finance function and help deliver strong business results.>>

I doubt this is a surprise to any CFO. After all, today’s CFO has really morphed into a CFOO (Chief Financial Operations Officer) and in some instances, more of a CEO (Chief Everything Officer).

To be a competitive candidate for a finance leader position, the CFO or aspiring CFO must move outside the finance bubble.

Adding value matters. So does being able to effectively communicate how you add value that translates to tangible business impacts. Which leads me to the second point …

<<Other traits of an effective CFO include strong communication skills and the ability to listen attentively.>>

Soft skills are integral to the top-notch CFO. All the finance expertise in the world won’t matter if you cannot communicate with the Board, investors, the rest of the C-suite, clients or customers, bankers, your finance team, and intra-departmental teams as well as build trusted relationships with them in order to achieve corporate objectives.

I wrote this article in March, saying …

Companies understand brilliant Chief Finance Officers bring financial acumen and skills to the table. They also recognize that while industry knowledge can be taught and gained; teaching communication, relationship management, team building, and leadership is a much more difficult, and maybe even impossible, endeavor. 

I believe my comment is still very true today and will be true for the foreseeable 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, Credentialed Career Master, 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 Dog Ate My Homework

With that cliché title, I am no doubt dating myself. That’s okay. You already know I’ve been in business for 23 years so I’m definitely not a young pup.

This bit of sage advice from my colleague, Barb Safani, came through my Linkedin newsfeed this morning.

“If recruiters ask you to ‘walk them through your background,’ focus on your core messages of value, not the five positions you held pre-1985.”

This wise counsel is true not only when you are talking with recruiters, but is also critically important when crafting your resume, Linkedin profile, cover letters, leadership brief, and every other written marketing document you use. Not doing your homework, which in this case is not doing the hard work to clearly understand your value so you can articulate your value messaging, won’t result in a 0 grade for homework not done. Rather, it may cause you to miss out on a very lucrative opportunity; maybe even your dream opportunity.

Here area 4 tips for honing your value messaging in the competitive world of CFO job search:

– 10 to 12 are the magic numbers

While a recruiter and/or a company is interested in how you got where you are, what the hiring company most cares about is your ability to solve the kinds of problems they are currently experiencing.

In the fast-changing world of technology, that means your tangible impacts over the last 10-12 years matter much more than what happened in the early years of your career or your degree. Those foundational things matter, but they will not help a company with a problem understand how you can resolve their issue, challenge, or situation.

Which brings me to …

– It is not what, it is how

What you did only matters in the context of how you delivered value as a finance leader who knows how to step in, eliminate or mitigate issues, and make a company stronger and better. That is your track record; that is your core value; and that is what matters to a prospective company.

– Self-identify by value rather than job title or worse, lack thereof

Besides screaming desperation, which shifts the balance of power, identifying by your job title is absent any value to a potential employer. Find your value and then, use it as a neon sign at every opportunity.

– The more you blend in, the less you will be noticed

When I made the decision to work exclusively with CFOs, it was based on two things:

– With whom did I most enjoy working, and
– Where was a gap in the saturated resume writing/job coach market?

The answer was the same for both questions. I loved working with accomplished finance executives and there were no resume writers or job coaches working exclusively with CFOs.

That is true for you as a job search candidate whether you are currently in a search or anticipate a move within the next few years. Identifying how you are different from all your competitors will help to ensure that you stand out from them rather than get lost in the masses.

Your core value and strongest positioning are the most visible when you have identified what you love doing, quantified your track record of success doing those things, clarified your target market, and taken ownership of that space.

If I can help you hone your value messaging, give me a call!

 

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, Credentialed Career Master, 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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Twenty-three years … so many memories!

Rarely do I share personal information because I am just that much of a private person. However, reflecting on the fact that I am in my 23rd year of business prompted me to rethink my non-sharing position. While June 1994 was the beginning of my entrepreneurial adventure, July 2009 was when I ventured into my CFO-Coach branded space and never looked back. So many years, so many lessons. Here are a few of my reflections …

It’s exhilarating to be the boss, and quite scary

Those of us who love being in control absolutely love being the “boss.” However, with that title comes all, and I do mean ALL, of the responsibility. Having to make every decision can, at times, be quite frightening.

My business was launched when my then 7-year old came home from school and said if she could have anything in the world, she wanted me to be home when school was over so she didn’t have to be a latch-key kid. Talk about motivation. And terror. If I failed, it meant snatching away her cherished dream. And here we are, 23 years later.

Flexibility and discipline are often at odds with each other

Perhaps my favorite part of being a solopreneur is the flexibility it affords. Of course, modern technology has made it possible for me to work anywhere at any time.

Flexibility does bump up against discipline, though, and not everyone can focus on work when fun is calling. The difference is … when you love what you do, fun becomes a relative term. And 23 years later, I’m still having fun.

Differentiation and niching allowed me to do what I love

My philosophy with my clients is to help them do what they love … harness the skills at which they excel and enjoy doing, and then create their value and marketable positioning from that unique and differentiating place.

Way back in the 90s I took a job coach certification class, and the one thing that still rings true is the negative impact burnout skills have on our careers. Just because we are good at something doesn’t mean we want to do more of “that” skill. What you are good at, love doing, have a track record of success doing – that’s your sweet spot and it can be the basis of your value messaging and appeal to a prospective employer.

It isn’t always easy, but it is always my choice

Such is life, right? But where else would I have the opportunity to have …

– a great boss

– flexible hours

– the ability to help some of the most accomplished CFOs in the nation do what they love in their next position, while forming long-lasting relationships with them.

And to think I have had a dream journey because of the courage to act on one little heartfelt comment by my sweet little girl, now a grown woman with children of her own.

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, Credentialed Career Master, 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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Four Issues That Contribute To An Extended Job Search

You know that old adage … “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”? Such is my perspective on articles and books and courses that are titled something like … “How to Get Your Next Job in 30 Days.” Is it possible? Maybe. Is it probable in today’s economic job market? Probably not for most people. And yet, unrealistic expectations abound, setting up job search candidates for massive disappointment when 30 days pass and unemployment is still a reality. The job search process is challenging enough without going into it with unrealistic expectations.

Here are four reasons why finding that next right-fitting Chief Financial Officer opportunity usually takes longer than 30 days.

There are limited CFO slots

Competition is fierce at the C-level. Getting noticed by companies who need your particular problem-solving skills and are willing to pay, and pay well to get them, requires branded value positioning and visibility. It is nearly impossible to stand out from the competition if you look just like all of your competitors.

With accomplished, contributing CFOs staying in their positions longer, finding those limited opportunities becomes even more of a challenge as the finance leadership space becomes even tighter.

Failing to plan is planning to fail

Most CFOs are so busy working their jobs that they don’t make time for managing their careers. The time to create or update a resume and Linkedin profile is not when a new position is needed, but well in advance of needing or wanting a new position.

Most really great opportunities come when you aren’t looking. However, if you don’t have those documents at the ready, that great opportunity could quickly become a missed opportunity. In fact, without a visible social media presence, that great, right-fitting opportunity might not even be known by a candidate.

A weak network

The value of a strong network cannot be understated. Your best opportunities will almost always come from a referral source, which mandates building your network before you need to use that network.

Over-reliance on ineffective job boards

Job boards have become the bane of job search, particularly the executive job search. Anything that seems as easy as sending off a resume to a job opening that seems like a perfect fit for you and your skills … just doesn’t typically yield much of a return. To say job boards are ineffective is a gross understatement and yet, it is an easy trap for many candidates.

The job search is anything but easy, especially when you are competing in a space with limited openings. That makes controlling the other three issues even more critical to shortening an otherwise grueling and frustrating process.

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, Credentialed Career Master, 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 Tips for a Compelling Linkedin Profile

Following my article on the CFOO, a CFO asked me this question …

<<… when you say “using LinkedIn as a placeholder for your online presence is a bad idea” what do you mean?>>

What I meant by a placeholder is a bare bones Linkedin profile – a name, maybe a picture, the current employer, and maybe education. A visual might be a person walking into a networking event wearing a brown paper bag on his head. It doesn’t invite perusal or conversation – there is simply nothing there to see.

Here are my 5 tips for ensuring that your Linkedin profile is more than a placeholder and sending a message you didn’t intend to send.

1. Make your headline a headline

Most people resort to dropping their most recent job title into the spot underneath their name. Using a job title is a clear missed opportunity to immediately convey value. A value statement also transcends any potential future job loss.

2. Expand your summary section

This is another place to convey value AND tell a story that will intrigue a reader to continue reading the balance of your profile. With 2,000 characters available, it is also a chance to capture critical key words that a recruiter or company will use when searching for a CFO candidate.

3. Keep your experience section fresh

By fresh, I don’t mean just updated – although that is a key point. However, cutting and pasting your resume into this section is not fresh. It is redundant. If you repeat your resume here, there is no need for a prospect to ask for your resume. Rather, think of your marketing documents as bricks that, when stacked on top of each other, form a solid wall of credibility.

4. Be judicious in choosing your connections

We never know who might be a great networking connection, but there are two important reasons to be selective in growing your online network.

First, recruiters do look at your connections and right, wrong, or indifferent – it is a part of their first impression.

Second, do you want to build a rolodex or grow your network? One is not necessarily helpful; the other is a necessity.

5. Get recommendations

Third party testimonials add credibility to your own value statements about your ability, and they matter – to recruiters and to the Linkedin algorithm. A profile doesn’t need a lot of “atta boy” recommendations; rather, it does need a few that validate your problem-solving abilities while helping to ensure a complete profile.

Social media is a critical piece of today’s job search process. Without a strong, value-oriented presence, recruiters might be missing out on the perfect Chief Financial Officer – you – to fill their job requisition! Don’t be a wallflower. Instead, be the candidate who stands out from the competition!

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, Credentialed Career Master, 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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Industry Expertise

I have been working exclusively with Chief Financial Officers for a long time. Eight years to be exact. And much has changed in those 8 years. Like …

  • The evolution of the stereotypical bean counting CFO to a Chief Financial Operations Officer.
  • An increase in the number of CFOs who have an interest in moving into the CEO seat.
  • A slight bump in the number of CFOs who have embraced social media.
  • The paradigm shift on “industry experience.”

It is the industry experience paradigm shift that is the focus of my thoughts today.

Up until about 5-6 years ago, industry experience was almost always a requirement. Recruiters would rarely consider candidates from outside “the” industry. Making a change was nearly unheard of and almost impossible to achieve.

That, however, is no longer the case. Companies are finally realizing that while group think (hiring within the industry) begets more group think, hiring outside the industry can facilitate a completely new and different perspective on solving problems and achieving objectives. Companies also recognize that knowledge of the industry can be learned and hiring candidates who possess certain skills – including soft skills – may be the greater imperative.

My favorite story to illustrate this point is a client who worked in a multi-unit retail space. He got calls – repeatedly – for CFO positions in healthcare … not because he had any healthcare experience, he didn’t. Rather, he had what the healthcare industry did not have – candidates who possessed multi-unit experience. It was not the industry experience that mattered. It was the skillset sorely lacking in that space that was attractive to his candidacy.

If you want to compete for Finance Leader positions outside your industry, then it is time to …

  • identify industries in which you can be competitive;
  • leverage your unique and transferrable skill set which includes doing what you love, want to do more of, and in which you have a track record of success;
  • raise your visibility with a compelling, value-oriented message; and
  • ramp up your networking efforts.

 

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, Credentialed Career Master, 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 Chief Financial Operations Officer

Today’s CFO is really a CFOO … a Chief Financial Operations Officer. And it has been that way for at least the past 5 years. There is no going back. The CFO is now the CFOO and in some cases, the CEO … Chief Everything Officer.

I almost didn’t read this article because of the title. Despite the title and my disagreement with his last statement, the article makes some valid points. Like …

<<In fact, today’s CFO is more like a COO in disguise.>>

Maybe it would be a tad more accurate to say that today’s CFO position demands a deep knowledge of operations and how numbers interact with operations to drive profitability. I don’t believe there is anything concealed about that fact.

<<… there’s so much overlap with what a COO does that
it seems to me like having both is redundant.>>

I agree. However, it also seems to me that a strategic CFO is in a much better position to do that than a COO, even with a strong controller in place.

My focus, though, is how the CFO evolution impacts a finance leader’s market positioning. Pure number crunchers are rapidly going the way of the dinosaur. Articulating value as a finance executive with a track record of both visioning and executing initiatives that positively impact operations is imperative within a competitive market. That imperative is even more so when there are a limited number of positions available at the top.

Believing that “if you just got the chance to talk with a prospective company, you could close the deal” is understandable. My clients are always very accomplished. However, without strong marketable value positioning that gets you noticed, those chances may be significantly diminished.

Does your resume contain more than duties and responsibilities? It must demonstrate your ability to take your financial and operational expertise and execute corporate initiatives.

Does your digital footprint convey your compelling value messaging? Being a wallflower or using your Linkedin profile as a placeholder can significantly reduce your ability to get noticed by a company who needs what you do and would be willing to pay, and pay well, to get it.

Does your network know and understand how you solve problems over and above the responsibilities you held and duties you performed? It is always about how you have stepped into a problematic situation, resolved the issue, and delivered a tangible impact as proof that you can solve the kinds of problems a prospective company is having.

Without solid operational finance messaging, perhaps there could be some truth to the author’s statement that the CFO may become a relic of the past.

If you are a CFOO who wants some help identifying your compelling value messaging – whether that is in your resume, your digital footprint, and/or among your network – give me a call!

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, Credentialed Career Master, 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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Lead with Problems Solved

Whether it is in a resume, a Linkedin profile, or a networking conversation, most prospective candidates, even very accomplished candidates, forget to tell the beginning of the story. While measurable impacts are critically important, they become much more impressive and relevant when told within the context of problems solved. By contrast, default position focuses on responsibilities held and duties performed.

A CFO’s value will never be found in duties and responsibilities. Those things only serve to ensure the candidate looks like every other competitor vying for the coveted finance leader position. Standing out from the competition means answering the need the company has by leading with your proven track record of solving problems, resolving issues, and unraveling challenges that serve as roadblocks to a company achieving its goals.

Because it is uncomfortable for most people, maintaining value positioning requires intentionally. How you brought resolutions and delivered impacts will always trump what you do / did in your appeal to a prospective company. Unfortunately, it is easy to default to talking about duties and responsibilities when we are not crystal clear about where our value lies and how to make value our single focus.

Default positioning can also impact your salary package. Your worth to a prospective company and negotiating power with that company hedges on your ability to take away its pain (problem, situation, issue, or challenge).

Take a look at your written marketing documents and your verbal messaging. Are you telling the whole story of your value by leading with your problem-solving ability? If the answer is no, give me a call. Helping my CFO clients identify and stand strong in their value is what I do!

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, Credentialed Career Master, 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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