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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Ethics in the C-suite

A quote by Sallie Krawcheck made its rounds in meme form on Linkedin this week. It says … “If it comes down to your ethics vs. a job, choose ethics. You can always find another job.” Such truth … especially for Chief Financial Officers.

On a personal note …

Violating your ethics or values will eventually catch up with you … and whether it eats away at you until you are miserable on the job and your health is in jeopardy – or – you begin to blur the lines of what is ethical and what is not … neither of those endings are ideal. The blight of a poor ethical decision can stain the outcome of a future job search.

Always keep your marketing documents up-to-date and understand and act on the premise that you really are always in job (opportunity) search mode. Those two career management strategies can go a long way to ensure that should you ever be asked to violate your ethics and won’t / can’t, you are in a much stronger position to find another opportunity much more quickly.

From a corporate perspective …

The buck often stops with the CFO when ethical violations hit the press. And that … can have a huge negative impact on your ability to find a new opportunity even if you exercise the above two strategies.

May you never be faced with such a situation!

 

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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Your Home on the Web

For many people, and particularly for most CFOs, the home of their digital footprint is Linkedin. Short of having your own URL, Linkedin is the only real neon sign option. That means having a robust profile is a critically important piece of managing your career … because it is where you can be found and where you are in control of the message.

Two posts came through my feed this last week regarding Linkedin, generating very interesting comments. The first was about headlines. The second around whether Linkedin replaces a resume. Let’s start with the headline.

The first question was asked as a yes/no poll … do you like headlines that are not standard fare? (i.e., your job title). I don’t have a good handle on the exact statistics, but there were strong opinions on both sides of the fence. Here’s my two cents.

Standard fare is a commodity, generic, and lacks value.

First, it is called a “headline” for a reason. If you believe your current job title is compelling enough to promote interest, do a search on Linkedin to see how many CFOs also use that headline. It’s tough to stand out with “just” a job title as your hook.

Second, companies hire because they need a Finance Leader to solve a problem, get them unstuck, or move them to the next level. The moment you define yourself by your job title, rather than your ability to solve problems and deliver impacts, and you lose your job … is the moment you become much less competitive and lose your power positioning. While nothing has changed for you except your location (outside vs. inside), companies and recruiters view that change quite differently.

Whether you choose to use a branded value-oriented headline or your job title, here are some things your headline should absolutely not say …

– Looking for a job or next opportunity

– Currently looking

– Anything that is not relevant to your branded positioning

The second issue was quite interesting, and there were certainly vocal opinions about whether the candidate needs both a resume and a Linkedin profile … and even whether a candidate would stoop so low as to create a resume if they already had a Linkedin profile. Goodness. While one day, perhaps, sometime in the future, a platform such as Linkedin may well replace resumes … that time is not now.

A Resume and a Robust Profile are Both Necessities

A Chief Financial Officer who wants to be competitive in the marketplace needs both a value-oriented resume that showcases his problem-solving skills AND a robust Linkedin profile that does not replicate his resume.

Your profile will get you noticed. Your branded value-oriented resume will solidify your credibility. They are two different, but necessary, pieces of the same job search puzzle.

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 Difficult Truth About the Job Search

Searching for a new job is tough. In fact, it might be one of the toughest, and certainly more stressful, things you will do in your career. For CFOs, there is only one position available (sans division or unit roles) and only so many companies who need your skills. The competition can be fierce.

Lately, I’ve seen much frustration among job seekers on Linkedin. One of my connections said … “Personally, I find searching for a new professional opportunity to be one of the most frustrating experiences anyone can go through during their career.” Yes, yes it is. And the break down of communication between decision-maker, HR, and candidate only adds to the frustration.

Another one of my connections – a CFO candidate – said that after applying for 400+ jobs on Linkedin, he was closing his account. The fact that he found 400 jobs to which he applied is nothing short of amazing. That none of them panned out, though, does not surprise me.

Here are 5 tips to help you avoid falling into the ego bashing, anxiety-ridden, torturous, frustrating, and difficult trap that can be part of the journey called job search.

– Don’t Take Rejection Personally

Easy to say; tough to do.

The right-fitting opportunity is extremely personal … for the candidate and for the company. However, neither of you benefit when the wrong person – from a culture fit perspective – is hired.

Just like you don’t win every business deal, you will not win every opportunity. Hold on to that professional perspective as much as possible.

– Leverage Your Network

Your network will always generate the best possible job leads. Always. Building your network before you need to use your network is always the best scenario. However, there is never a bad time to begin the building process.

When you don’t have a network, you are at the mercy of job boards. Which brings me to my next point.

– Don’t Get Seduced by the Job Posting Game

And such seduction it is. You find a listing. It appears to align perfectly with your skills. You send off your resume. And … nothing. The lure of the job posting game is the seeming ease in matching candidates to jobs. It isn’t and it rarely does, especially at the CFO level.

Devoting no more than 10% of your overall job search time to the job boards will go a long way towards reducing your angst. Your network is a much better source for finding those truly right-fitting opportunities.

– Your Search is Your Job, Treat it as Such

The easiest way to hit job search burnout is by forgetting to create a plan and then work your plan. At the end of the day (whether that is 4 hours, 6 hours, or 8 hours), it is important to put your job search activities aside and do something for yourself. The job search can be grueling; don’t let it also become all-consuming.

– It’s Not Over Until You’ve Landed … and then, Not Really

Don’t give up, or even ease up, on your job search activities until you have a signed, sealed, and delivered offer and have started your job. Even after you’ve landed, remember … you really are, in all likelihood, only between searches.

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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