CFOs and Finance Execs Recruiters Really, Really Want


Are you one? Are you sure?

–Do you bring a record of contributions?

–Have you led initiatives that positively impacted the bottom line?

–Is your value proposition compelling enough that a company will pay to bring you on board?

–Has the company moved forward under your leadership?

–Do you hold a seat at the executive table?

Great! Now, do the people who need to know about you, actually know about you?

I recently wrote a post about how stiff job search competition is shaping up to be next year. In a recent Reuters article on Wall Street talent, James Dunne, the senior managing principal at investment bank Sandler O’Neil, said this …

Really, really good people are always hard to get. There will be a few more opportunities, but for the most part, I would say 7.5 or eight of those 10 people at those places we don’t want in the first place.”

Dunne may have been talking about specifically Wall Street talent, but that sentiment extends well beyond Wall Street well into Corporate America. Despite the great talent now actively looking for positions, great may not be good enough. The job search is tough and all indications point to it getting even tougher.

So here’s my next question …

–Are you a coveted “passive candidate?”

In previous posts, I’ve also talked about my recruiter contacts telling me they have been told by their company clients that they are not paid to present candidates found in job boards. Here’s an excerpt from a recent ERE blog post

They [the company] will now not accept any candidate as a referral from me if they do a search after I submit my candidate and find this candidate in a career builder or monster database.

Is your resume plastered all over the job boards? If so, it could be hurting you much more than it is helping you!

Ask yourself this … “what do I need to do to be one of those 1 or 2 people a company DOES want? If you don’t know, maybe we should talk!


The Rules Have Changed

So the question becomes, are you playing by the new rules or the old rules? As “The New Trouble on the Line” points out, the game has changed and the new rules are catching candidates by surprise. It’s a good read. More than that, it’s an important read.

Here are a few more areas where I believe my finance execs get tripped up … and it primarily comes from a reticence (for whatever reason) to embrace new technology.

–Email address

This seems like such a minor point, but it’s not. Your email address will often be the beginning of that “first impression” … especially when it is an AOL (amateurs online) address; some weird, nonsensical combination of words; your wife’s email address; or worse, something playful or even suggestive.

Linked In

I’m delighted to see more and more senior finance executives and CFOs getting on Linked In. This is a “must be” place for proactively managing your career. Where I see folks getting tripped up is in creating their bios with “yesterday’s boring corporate speak” or not creating it at all. This is your one shot at attracting recruiters who have the positions you want. Your profile must be compelling and sell value, your experience section must be complete and sell value, and joining groups and securing recommendations are critical. Linked In is a “networking” site … that requires action.


I was participating in some discussions in my various Linked In groups the other day, and there was a Twitter post with the invitation to list your Twitter url so you could follow others and be followed. My first response was “k-e-w-l, look at all those finance folks who are tweeting.” As I clicked the link my response changed to … “oh no, they don’t get it.” 

Twitter is a micro-blogging platform requiring you to talk with people … regularly and frequently. It is not a “build it and they will come” holding place on the Web. What I saw were accounts that were established with no identifiable name or bio, no tweets, and few followers. Not the message I’m sure these folks want to be sending.

–Voice Mail Message

What does your voice mail message say about you as an executive? Your kids are cute … that’s a given … and the voice mail recording they made is just adorable. And, unprofessional. If your home phone has anything other than a professional message, don’t use it on your resume. Use your personal cell phone and make sure the voice mail message is professional and includes either your name or your phone number (or both) so the caller knows they got the right person.

–And finally, Telephone Interviews

If you are not in a place where it makes sense for you to answer the phone, don’t. It would be far better for you to let them leave a message and call back when you are at your desk and focused than in the car with the kids or running errands. If you do answer and you are busy or otherwise distracted, politely ask if you can reschedule to a mutually convenient time. 

It is time (past time actually) for senior finance executives to proactively embrace Web 2.0 technology. Just as the rules have changed regarding telephone interviews, so have the rules changed in the competitive job search arena. Dinosaurs are out. A-players are in. On first pass, perhaps before you even know it happened, your status as either a dinosaur or an A-player is evident from your web savvy, or lack thereof. 

Fordyce Letter Wisdom

Words of wisdom in Recruiting and Assessing Wisely are aimed at recruiters, but they are also applicable to candidates …

“With the explosion of new resources such as social media like LinkedIn and Facebook, and other innovative techniques, the challenge now isn’t just finding the good candidates, but also making sure they interview well and have nothing in their background that can undermine them.”

Can you be found and are you an A–player?
It’s not about what you did, but how you contributed.

Are you prepared to show how you can do the job?
How will your expertise and record of accomplishment solve a potential company’s challenges?

Do you know what Google is saying about you?
Is it consistent? Credible? Not showing up in Google can be lethal. If you don’t show up, do you exist?

The reality is that senior-level finance executive tenure is an average of three years. Being a passive candidate (employed but open to hearing about opportunities), well-positioned with a strong value proposition, and visible to the right target market means you are in the driver's seat for managing your career. 

Fail Rate for Newly-Hired Executives

I was chatting with a colleague earlier this week, and he mentioned a statistic that I had to share with you … “40% of executives in a new job failed within eighteen months” (Manchester Partners International, USA).

A little research uncovered an even more amazing statistic published by The Center for Creative Leadership, which says … “35% of executives failed within their first few months.”

"Failing includes being terminated for performance, performing significantly below expectations, or voluntarily resigning from the new position."

These statistics are important because …if you are the #2 or even #3 candidate for a position you really wanted at a company you truly felt was a great fit, and you can live with being the second choice … there just might be another opportunity in the not–to–distant future.

Make it a habit to follow up regularly with decision-makers to see how things are going in their organization. A consistent follow up plan could uncover that next great opportunity.