Always Lead with Your Value

I saw some really bad advice given this morning, and it was sent to a very large audience of Senior Finance Executives. In good conscience, I cannot let this flawed advice stand unchallenged.

Don't Date Yourself
Don’t Date Yourself

Here’s what I believe to be very bad advice for Chief Finance Officers or other Senior Executives …

I strongly believe in putting the academic background at the top of the resume with graduation date(s), especially if it is impressive. 

Don’t do it. Unless you graduated five or less years ago, your academic background does not matter [nearly as much] as your career impacts. And let’s face it, CFOs and Finance Leaders weren’t born yesterday, nor did they graduate yesterday.

Please don’t do it. Don’t lead with something that can only set up age discrimination, particularly for those looking to exclude you. Don’t sabotage, negate, or diminish your solid value positioning by focusing on something that happened 20 or 30 years ago.

Always … lead with your value. Always!

If you are a Finance Executive and want to know how to create a marketing message that ensures you lead with value, contact me. It’s my passion!

Recorded Interviews

I posted an article on Linkedin Pulse about the new, and rapidly expanding, trend of recording candidate interviews. There is much we don’t know about the ramifications to a candidate when his interview is recorded, but this practice begs the question … does an interviewer’s demand / requirement to record an interview trump a candidate’s rights to refuse? What about questioning what happens to that recording? Or, asking how it will be used post-interview?

After I posted my article, I received an email from someone who was happy to share their story and for me to share it without attribution. To maintain confidentiality, here is my summary of that email.

I had a company ask me to not go see candidates but instead to conduct Skype interviews and record each one so that they could see them as well. Yes, that made me uncomfortable and also as a veteran recruiter it made me think they didn’t trust my judgment.

In my state, you are required to tell the candidate that they are being recorded, which I did. The quality was not always great. The company said that if anyone doesn’t want to be recorded, then we don’t want them. In all if was uncomfortable and the idea that a professional would be giving the yah or nay based on a video tape was not in the best interest of the client.

What do you think? Would you go along with a recorded interview regardless of the unknowns?

Interviewing & Technology
Interviewing & Technology

Techology … the Next CFO Responsibility?

Should CFOs yield the technology responsibilities that come with making faster data-driven decisions to a new C-suite officer? Or, does the Finance Leader need to own that decision-making process? Is there room at the executive table for another C-suite executive … and enough financial bandwidth to cover another executive compensation package?

I’ve been writing about the trend I’m noticing among Chief Financial Officers and the new breed of CFOs who possess strong technology acumen. Here’s my latest article on Linkedin Pulse.

But, in polling Finance Chiefs in the SmartBrief for CFOs, the results of two polling questions are … interesting.

Last week’s question was around how technology is driving the current evolution of the CFO role, and asked how many CFOs held responsibility for the IT function. While 44% said IT was a separate department, 42% said they currently oversee IT and another 3% will be adding that function to their ever-evolving responsibilities this year. So, pretty much a 50/50 split among those who responded.

With 50% saying IT was a separate department, it begged a follow-up question in this week’s SmartBrief for CFOs …

Is there room at the executive table for a Chief Analytics Officer to manage and analyze data?

At the time this blog was posted, almost 50% said no to another C-suite executive role.

What do you think … will the finance role evolve to absorb this increasingly critical technology function, or will it require yet another C-suite table mate? Feel free to vote in this week’s poll and/or leave your thoughts below.

Chief Analytics Officer
Chief Analytics Officer

A Thankful Heart

As we in America pause this week to give thanks for all the blessings bestowed on us, I am thankful for all of you – my faithful readers. This is my 20th year in business and I’ve been writing my blog since 2005. I hope that something, even one seemingly small thing, I’ve written over the last almost 10 years has proved helpful as you’ve moved through your career.

Happy Thanksgiving! May your hearts be overflowing with gratitude this week and throughout the coming year, for we truly are a richly blessed people.

Happy Thanksgiving!
Happy Thanksgiving!

Online Anonymity

Am I the only one who feels like “Online Anonymity” might be today’s ultimate oxymoron? Is there any reason to be online if you want to be anonymous? And if you want to be anonymous, why send a contrary message by being, sort of, online? Riding the fence is not a good option when we are talking about the importance of a digital footprint.

Perhaps I’m feeling just a bit beleaguered as I work through a very, very long list of CFOs who have requested to join my CFO-only careers group on Linkedin. In a list that I have finally pared down from about 600+ requests, I can maybe – maybe – find 50% with profiles that include credible evidence the person is who s/he says he is. If your Linkedin profile is so scaled back that I – a mere career coach who works with Chief Financial Officers – can’t determine that you really are a Finance Chief, what do you think your target market is thinking? My guess would be that much like me, they doubt your credibility. Not that you aren’t credible and accomplished, but there is nothing to support that positioning.

Here’s some advice, which is really only valuable if you actually take it.

Decide whether you want to be online or you want to be anonymous, and if it is the former, then show up fully, completely, and compellingly. It does not help your messaging to have one foot online and the other foot firmly planted in in your desire to be anonymous.

My most recent post on Linkedin Pulse supports my belief that when you show up online, with a value message that resonates with your target audience, you will reap the rewards.

An Authentically Branded CFO
An Authentically Branded CFO

The Chicken or the Egg?

Which came first? The chicken or the egg? It’s an age-old cliche that still surfaces from time-to-time. And now, we have a similar question from job seekers that is becoming more commonplace as they navigate the ever-changing job search arena.

Which do I need first?
My resume or my Linkedin profile?

Since you need both, the answer – at least from my perspective – is really simple.

The resume first.
Then, your Linkedin profile.

Why you might ask? The long answer lies in my blog post from a few weeks ago, “It’s Not About a Resume,” but here’s the short answer. Your resume – and your Linkedin profile – are only the written results of understanding your value and being able to articulate your value-oriented messaging. It requires the same amount of work to get to your value in order to write your profile as it does to write your resume.

If you are paying someone to merely write your profile on Linkedin … does it really convey your value messaging or does it simply flow better but still with the emphasis on responsibilities held rather than the valuable impacts you delivered?

Cindy Kraft, the CFO-Coach
Cindy Kraft, the CFO-Coach

You really do have to do the hard work to get the reward. There are only so many Chief Financial Officer positions, so the competition can be fierce.

Taking the seemingly shortest route when it involves your career – the thing that provides the funding for everything else in your life, including providing for your family, can often turn into anything but a shortcut today. You wouldn’t think of shortcutting your company in strategically guiding its growth and direction, so don’t do it to yourself either.

Want to versus Have to

I just returned from an intensive 3-day retreat with my colleagues. The non-stop brainstorming, idea generating, planning, and strategizing is always energizing and completely refreshing.

One of the very insightful topics we discussed was the “want to” versus “have to” mindset.

Want to … pie-in-the-sky dreams that may or may not come true but we definitely spend time thinking we would sure like to do them and even how fun it would be to do them.

Have to … can be life-changing and empowering steps that often lead to fulfillment of our “want.”

My take-away … The things we want to do only happen when we do the things we have to do in order to achieve them.

If you have a to-do list, which ones of those items fall into the “want-to” and which fall into the “have-to” category? Which are you actually doing? Which ones are you moving forward from one day to another because they are wonderful ideas, you would really like to do them, however there are more pressing have-tos that always seem to require your attention? Which of those have-to actions are moving you closer to the thing(s) you want?

What you want is that big, audacious, hairy goal or dream. The action steps to get there are the things you have to do in order to achieve the goal.

What is Your Want?
What is Your Want?

If you are gainfully and happily employed … congrats and kudos to you! However, you are only between your last search and your next search. What are the things you have to do in order to position yourself for the next position you want?

Want is the goal.
Getting there suggests there are things you have to do in order to attain your goal.

Waiting until you need a job before you begin doing the things you have to do in order to get that next position takes away all of your power and puts it completely in the hands of prospective employer. Even if your new job want is 1-3 years in the future, identifying the actions you have to do NOW and executing them along the way will allow you to effectively land, and land more quickly, while you are still in a position of power, leverage, and desirability.

If you are a CFO with aspirations, what are the things you have to do in order to win that big want in your personal or professional life?

It’s Not About a Resume

When prospects reach out to me, it is almost always because they need / want a resume. But it’s not about a resume. It never is. It never will be. The resume is just the end piece of a process to uncover a CFO’s marketability and value to a prospective company.


Don’t get me wrong … a resume is still necessary somewhere along the job search process, but the real value of developing a resume is in helping a client understand his potential value to a target audience and then crafting both the verbal and written value messaging to give him solid positioning.

It’s easy to write a long list of responsibilities you’ve held. It takes hard work and effort to dig down into understanding your value as a problem-solver with a track record of delivering bottom-line impacts to companies.

It is extremely difficult to compete on responsibilities. It is much easier, differentiating, and compelling to compete on value. In fact, it is also unusual … which ensures you stand out from the competition.

You do need a resume. But what you need first is value messaging. What do you have, what have you done, how have you contributed in a way that has solved a company’s problems, and delivered tangible value? Once you know that, you are ready to oust the competition and craft a powerful value-driven resume!

Feeding the Un-hatched Chicken

You are no doubt familiar with the cliché … don’t count your chickens before they hatch … right? And yet, it is a common phenomenon in the job search process. Maybe somewhere in your career climb, you were tripped up by the perception of “it’s a done deal,” when it wasn’t even close to done.

Everything seems to be moving along quite nicely …

You go on an interview … Score!
You continue through the process … Score again!
You become a top three candidate … Score big time!

And then,

You wait … Score, um, … maybe?
And wait … Not sure it was a Score after all.
And wait a while longer … Score officially turns to fret.

Maybe you -eventually- get the good news. But maybe the news isn’t what you were expecting. And all the while you thought that chicken had hatched you were doing nothing else on your job search. You counted your chicken before it hatched, only to find out – it didn’t hatch.

Now, you’re back at ground zero once again. Only this time, it feels a little harder, a little more challenging, a bit more of a struggle as hopeful expectation turned to disappointment and self-confidence took a beating.

Just because you have a “potential” opportunity, don’t lose sight of the bigger goal of obtaining a new position. Until you have received a written offer and accepted it in writing, you have nothing but an unhatched egg in your job search basket. Don’t feed only it, because it may not be the one that ultimately hatches.

In fact, don’t stop executing your good career management habits after you land either, because that place where you landed is only temporary … regardless of how you define temporary.

Super CFOs are Strong CEO Prospects

In the last week, I’ve read numerous articles about the appeal of Chief Financial Officers to fill the top seat of Chief Executive Officer. Articles in the Wall Street Journal, Crain’s, and the StartUpProfessionals blog, among others, are buzzing.

On the flip side, there was a question in the Proformative community asking … can’t I just be content to be a CFO?

Apparently the train has now officially left the station. That does not mean …

– You missed it, or
– You have to be on it

Aspiring to be a CFO and being perfectly content with your role in that capacity is completely dependent on what’s right for you. Embrace your contentment and effectiveness. Doing what you love is a wonderful thing.

Having a goal to sit in the CEO seat, sometime soon or in the future, is a personal – and very achievable – goal. I believe it will only continue to be more and more possible, and even typical, for the accomplished Finance Chief.

However, to move up requires that you understand, and be able to message, “how” you are qualified to hold that top leadership position. It will require you to step away from your responsibility messaging and step into value messaging backed by your compelling track record of tangible impacts.


Step Away from the Herd
Step Away from the Herd