The Recession, Unemployment, & CFOs

In a recent SmartBrief poll, 72.5% of surveyed companies indicated they had unfilled openings. With almost 10% unemployment, I find that curious, don’t you?

Yesterday I had the pleasure of chatting with Recruiter Samuel Dergel of CFO2Grow in Canada on his thoughts about this issue.

Samuel believes one reason for so many unfilled positions is that companies are deluded by a flawed “recession mindset.” That is, the belief that there is an abundant of available talent and it need only post the opening and that talent will rush in the door.

I’m not sure that it is purely a “recession mindset,” I actually believe the hiring process is, and has been, completely broken and I wrote about this several years ago in my article, “Everybody Lies.”

It seems pretty obvious that companies ARE hiring! That’s a very high number of unfilled openings. However, companies want, and are willing to wait for, top talent. I loved Samuel’s analogy … companies aren’t looking for top talent lying on the ground (chronically unemployed with no value proposition), they’re looking at the top of the tree (passive candidates).

Long-term unemployment compensation “seems” like a good thing when you don’t have a job. But at the end of 2 or, unbelievably 3, years … will you even be employable? It won’t be enough to hang a shingle on your door that says “consultant” for the benefit of your resume, unless you were actually consulting and have deliverables and references available to back up your position. Many of the jobs, and even skill sets, that will exist in 3 years aren’t even known today. If you’re out of the workforce long term, it will be extremely difficult to be a competitive candidate.

Samuel and I agree that today’s high-value CFO is, above all things, strategic. A leader who can vision and guide initiatives from the Executive Table, not just crunch numbers from the back office.

In a webinar on yesterday, the presenter indicated the average tenure of a CFO today is 26 months. My best advice as a career coach is that every top talented Chief Financial Officer apply that same “strategic mindset” to his career. If it’s true that the talent companies want is at the top of the tree, not lying on the ground … and I believe it is … it’s critical to figure out where you want to go and how to get there, long before you desire to make a move.

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