Superstar Executives

An interesting article by John Hollon on ERE inspired my SmartBrief for CFOs poll last week on the quality of the last hire. The results of the poll … once again … triggered more questions on my end since of those polled, only 27% indicated their last hire was a superstar while almost 50% indicated their last hire was either safe or forgettable.

So I wonder, why make a mediocre hire instead of a superstar hire when the cost of recruiting that person is the same either way. The salary of a superstar shouldn’t cost more since he should be able to save or make a company more than the cost of his salary. 

Then I saw this article posted on Newsweek this morning with a subtitle that reads … “Despite record unemployment, recruiters are desperate for top talent.” 

Perhaps that answers at least one of my questions. Ho hum hires are made because the superstars can’t be found.  Which begs the question … “why” can’t they be found?

— Top talent doesn’t exist. 

— The message of superstar executives is not compelling, isn’t resonating with its target audience, or is completely mute.

— Recruiters aren’t looking for “unemployed” executives. It’s a sad reality and I’ve blogged about this many times. The moment you walk out the door on Friday afternoon with a big fat severance package in your pocket, you also wear the black mark of unemployment. Your marketability takes a hit despite the fact that your skill set and contributions remain the same.

Are you a superstar and are recruiters finding you? If so, you’re apparently in the minority and definitely a high-value target.

Google, HR, and Getting Hired

Earlier this week I tweeted this statistic from an article on

“According to a study conducted by Microsoft earlier this year, 70% of surveyed HR professionals in U.S. (41% in the UK) have rejected a candidate based on online reputation information”

It elicited an interesting exchange with one of my tweeps. Here’s what he said …

–Cindy, seriously are HR folks incapable getting relevant info on their own?

–The reality is it's the wrong use of Social Media – if that's your only use.

–My point was there many pro-active uses for social media rather than HR Sherlock Holms (sic) work.

Here’s the reality … at least according to Cindy’s web worldview. 

Social media allows, maybe even subtly deceives, people to let down their guard. Have you seen some of the pictures people upload, the foul language that fill their tweets and Facebook posts, even the use of poor grammar and misspelled words? The fact is, these things speak volumes about prospective candidates that will never come through in the spit and polished interview process. 

Google, Web 2.0, and reputation management are here to stay. Whether you are a Chief Financial Officer, finance executive, accountant, or new finance grad, what Google says about you matters to prospective companies. And if Google is mute about you, that sends its own very loud message. 

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!


Resume vs. Candidate … Is There Cohesion?

One of the issues facing candidates is ensuring cohesion between his resume and the person he really is. While the search process is comprised of two parts … marketing documents and the search strategy … they go hand-in-hand. If you look great on paper but bomb in the interview … because who you looked like on paper isn’t really who you are … the process will fail. Conversely, if you wow someone at a networking event but follow up with a less-than-compelling resume, again, the process will fail. The disconnect could be career suicide.

Recruiter Rayanne Thorn talks about this very situation in her blog post, “Looking Good on Paper.” While hers is an extreme example, it is more often the little things that can trip up candidates. Sue Danbom talked about this same issue in her ERE blog post, “Does Your Costume Reveal the Real You?

My belief is that regardless of the situation, authenticity is key. I am not at all suggesting that any of my readers lie. I am saying that a disconnect, even unintentionally, between who you appear to be on paper and who you are in person, could be derailing your ability to land that next opportunity.

Does your resume speak from your voice? Does it reflect and confirm your in-person executive stature? And conversely, are you the accomplished contributor your resume says you are?

Your Resume is Your Ad

Anybody besides me get irritated when I click a link to read (er, well, skim) an article, and my ONLY option is to watch a video. I don’t really care whether it is 2 minutes or 10 minutes, it is a commitment I have to make to watch the entire thing in order to see whether or not it contains anything I’m even remotely interested in knowing. Most times, I elect to simply move on to the next thing.

Which is why, when I read this comment from a recent ERE article  …

According to marketing legend David Ogilvy, five times as many people read a headline as do the entire ad. Therefore, without a strong headline statement, your ad may be skipped entirely. Another source ( says that while 8 out of 10 people will read a headline statement, only 2 in 10 read the entire ad.

… it reinforced my belief that video resumes will never make it on the front end of a job search. It just takes too long to determine if there is any value.

This excerpt also speaks to the importance of … 

— Ensuring the top half of the first page of your resume is powerful enough to evoke action; and

–Letting your resume breathe. The significance of white space and font in a size that can be read without a magnifying glass cannot be overstated.

Your resume is your ad, and the product you’re selling is you. Are you selling a record of value or a long list of responsibilities? Would you buy what you’re selling?