5 Linkedin Tips to Attract Recruiters

If you’re going to be on LinkedIn—and you should be—your profile should entice recruiters to read it and enable them to quickly and clearly understand your value as a Finance Chief. Just these five areas can make a huge difference in your visibility.

Status Update

Read why in my latest column on Futures in Finance.

5 Linkedin Tips for CFOs




Be a Purple Cow, not a Chameleon

At the FEI Dallas chapter meeting a couple weeks ago, I talked about the difference between Purple Cows and Chameleons. What are you? And, why does it matter? For candidates generally and for Finance Chiefs specifically, it matters greatly!

According to the Harvard Business Review, the executive fail rate hovers between 30% and 40% after just 18 months. Ouch!

While there are undoubtedly many factors that feed into that percentage fail rate, one big factor is culture fit. Culture fit is always the most challenging piece of the hiring process, and the one companies routinely get wrong. It is made even more challenging for both companies and prospects when candidates choose to be chameleons, trying to be all things to all people … rather than purple cows, the right fit in the right company.

It might seem counter-intuitive. It probably even sounds counter-intuitive to make the decision to play in a small space. Particularly in light of the “public job boards” deception which lulls us into thinking if we just put those specific key words from the ad in our resume, THIS TIME the call will actually come through.

And there is a slight chance that a call will come … but … will it be for a position that is a fit with your strengths and your brand? Is it a position that will challenge and grow you? A position that will allow you to grow your record of contributions? Is it a place that is aligned with your values?

The "I-can-be-whoever-you-need-me-to-be" chameleon
The “I-can-be-whoever-you-need-me-to-be” chameleon

If you have to revise your resume to make it appeal to every different posted position to which you apply, perhaps you need to ask yourself whether you are being true to your authentic brand … your particular shade of purple cow … or whether you are morphing into a well-disguised chameleon. And the moment you morph, you compromise your brand, your strength positioning, you’re fit for opportunity, and even … your future contentment within that new position.

The Replaceable CFO

I’m guessing the CFO of Yahoo isn’t feeling all that secure these days. In reality, no Finance Chief should be.

CFO Roundtable panel discussion
CFO Roundtable panel discussion

Yesterday I spoke at the CFO Roundtable in Boston. In one of my comments, well at least one, I reminded the 170 Finance Chiefs and those on the CFO-track, that job security was an illusion … even for those with their thumbs on the pulse of the company’s finances.

So, the headline on Business Insider grabbed my attention as I caught up with emails this morning. Did you see this?

“Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer: I think about replacing our CFO all the time.”

And the article goes on to say …

Since joining Yahoo as CEO last summer, she’s already replaced the company’s COO, CFO, and chief marketing officer, among others. Even so, Mayer said, “I think about who could be a better COO. I think about who could be a better CFO.

I’m sure she isn’t alone in her “thought experiment,” but really, what was she trying to accomplish by such a callous and thoughtless public comment at the end of a keynote? Humor? I hope for Ken Goldman’s sake that he’s not resting on his Yahoo laurels.

CFOs have always been –only– as good as the bottom-line and happy investors and shareholders. Welcome to the new executive reality. It looks like there’s an addition to that list …  a CEO who is constantly on the lookout for someone who could do your job even better or do it differently..

Please take a lesson from Marissa, and heed my words of caution …

You are the only one truly vested in your career … a career that provides the livelihood to support your family. Being too busy with your job, believing you’re secure because you just landed, harboring some false sense of loyalty to the company, or whatever else you are using as an excuse to not be proactively managing your career is a huge mistake in these volatile times, uncertain economy, and competitive job market. Take the first step today. Contact me or another career coach who works with Chief Financial Officers to begin the process of packaging and positioning yourself while you are still very poachable.

Secrets for Winning the Packaging & Positioning Game

If you’re hoping the posted position game will generate your next great opportunity, it is time for a reality check.

– Very few CFO positions are ever posted.

– When they are posted, they are usually the bottom-of-the-barrel opportunities.

– Every desperate CFO is vying for those rare posted positions.

– The middle man (HR) is ready and willing to eliminate you from consideration.

So how can you win the packaging and positioning game and score that next great opportunity? It’s time to push yourself away from the job board sites and begin thinking about “Product You” just as your marketing team strategizes on marketing your company, product, and/or service. Be …

  • Branded
  • Different
  • Visible

Read the entire article in the December issue of CFO Studio.

Stand out from the crowd!
Stand out from the crowd!

Today’s strategies for winning new opportunities aren’t rocket science, but they are different. And it is even more difficult to win the new game if you don’t know the new rules.

A “pull strategy” (attraction) will work infinitely better than a “push strategy” (sending your resume out to every posted position) when you clearly market something a company both needs and wants … the ability to solve problems. And, when you are gainfully employed and thereby, highly-valued as a passive-and-worthy-of-being-poached candidate.

Positioning Yourself for the CFO Seat

It has never been more challenging, nor competition so fierce, to get to the coveted CFO position. If you’ve held the title of “Chief Financial Officer” in the past, you have an edge. But what if you have not held that title?

Here are 4 strategies you can use to position yourself as a qualified candidate for the office of CFO.

1 – Be Strategic!

2 – Expand your Skill Sets

3 – Raise Your Visibility

4 – Target Audience

You can read the entire article in the November Futures in Finance newsletter.


I always enjoy reading the FENG (Financial Executives Networking Group) newsletter Matt Bud sends out several times a week. If you are a financial executive or CFO and you aren’t a member of FENG and receiving the newsletter, I do recommend it.

Matt’s dry wit and sharp insight routinely deliver what I call “Mattisms.” Those little tidbits of truth – often prickly – that pack a big punch.

In a recent newsletter, Matt uttered this little gem …

I call them work opportunities instead of jobs, because they don’t generally last long enough these days to be dignified with that “job” label. 

Ouch! Tenure so short it doesn’t even qualify to be labeled a job? If it weren’t true, perhaps the comment would only be worthy of laughter. However, among S&P 500 and Fortune companies, the average tenure is 5.1 years. That means, change is coming.

And, Matt has provided yet another tidbit of wisdom around “change” …

“I’m not sure why human beings resist change. It is truly the only constant in our world.”

And a bit of my own … perhaps facts more than wisdom …

— You will change jobs at some point in time. Statistics bear out that statement.

— If in the course of a move, you wait until you need a job rather than preparing well in advance of deciding to make a move, change will be infinitely more difficult.

— If you are in a job search and not getting the results you want, but continue doing what you’ve been doing rather than changing your strategy, you will likely keep getting what you’ve been getting.

Bottom line: Today’s “work opportunities” necessitate embracing “change.”

Reputational Risk

“Boards are taking the peril of the loss of their companies’ good names more seriously ….” So says a recent article on CFO.com that cites Boards of Directors’ concern about reputational risk for the second straight year.

If Boards are concerned about corporate reputations, might that not signal that CFOs ought to also be concerned about – and engaged in – mitigating individual reputational risk?

Taken together, the top areas of concern in reputational risk are product quality, liability, and customer satisfaction, at 39%. Second is a combination of concerns about integrity, fraud, ethics, and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which totaled 24%.

In personal reputation management, product quality, liability, and customer service is all about you!

— How do you perform as a problem-solver? Leader? Member of the executive management team?

— What liabilities, if any, will the company be assuming by hiring you?

— Customer service = bottom line … and your customers are shareholders, investors, and the Board.

Asked how they identify risks, 22% say they receive reports from executive management, 18% regularly discuss risk issues during board meetings, 16% rely on professional support or advice from outside experts, and 11% get information from a risk committee.

Clarity or Confusion?

Where do prospective employers (and their Boards) get their information about you? Is it accurate? Consistent? Are you driving the messaging, or reacting to the message?

Corporate reputation (and risk) is a reflection of its executive management team. What is your contribution? Who knows about it?

CFOs, Authenticity, and Integrity

Did you know the motto of the State of North Carolina speaks directly to authentic branding.

Esse quam videri
(To be, rather than to seem)

To actually be … rather than to merely seem to be … specifically, virtuous.

The phrase is from a much longer Latin sentence, but the translation is …

“Fewer possess virtue than those who wish us to believe that they possess it. The fact is that fewer people are endowed with virtue than wish to be thought to be so. Not nearly so many people want actually to be possessed of virtue as want to appear to be possessed of it. The numbers of the really virtuous are not so great as they appear to be.”

A lack of integrity – or virtue – seems to be almost the norm these days. Just last week, there was an article about the Alberta Health Services CFO who was fired after hundreds of thousands of dollars of expense reports (146 claims totaling $346,208 filed over a period of 3 years), were uncovered. We hear these stories every day.

What might such stories have to do with CFOs and authentic branding? Well in this day and age, everything. Virtue. Integrity. Ethics. Things that, while extremely valuable, unfortunately seem to be in increasingly short supply these days. So if you HAVE integrity, and EXUDE integrity, because INTEGRITY is a CORE VALUE … you might find your marketability on the rise.

If integrity is learned behavior, it can be bought or sold at any time and apparently for almost any price. However, when integrity is a core value, even the thought of violating that value comes at a cost. Integrity as a core value is authentic, and in this economically challenging time, it is a highly-desired attribute among Finance Chiefs. You actually are who you say you are, rather than someone you merely appear to be. 

CPA CFOs … the Continuing Saga

There is no hot button in the finance space like the CPA-non-CPA credential controversy for CFOs. Not intending to add fuel to the fire, but merely to point out a few recent articles that may – or may not – shed light on the credentialing trend.

Demand for CPAs is climbing
Demand for CPAs is climbing

According to an education organization, CPAs are in demand. In fact, the demand is actually on the rise. If more companies are hiring more CPAs on their finance teams and there is a succession plan in place, the pool is ripe for grooming those CPAs for future CFO roles. And, internal hires ARE on the rise.

A recent article in the Vancouver Sun said this …

CFOs often have access to the largest amount of information about the inner workings of a corporation. They are responsible for both budgeting and regulatory matters related to company finances; they are also under ever-increasing scrutiny due to tighter regulations and greater focus on good governance.

Maybe it’s just my small mind, but with the ongoing, and always increasing, strangulation coming out of government, it just seems to me that companies will continue to view CPA CFOs as a necessity.

While the CFO skill set is broadening, particularly from a strategy perspective, this rather interesting article was posted on CFO.com today … “Why Strategy Plays Second Fiddle For Finance Chiefs.”  Perhaps this excerpt sums it up the best: “It’s [the CFO role] a unique dilemma.”

While I personally believe the CPA CFOs are still top-targeted talent, it’s a bigger issue for the candidate. It’s about being the right CFO in the right company doing the right things that fit with your skills sets, passions, and interests while adding value to the organization … irrespective of the credential.

I’m presenting the pre-conference forum at the CFO Corporate Finance Excellence Conference in Dallas this weekend. If you are one of my readers and you will be at the conference, please track me down and say hello!

CFOs and Pay-for-Performance

CEO compensation is one of those areas companies want to get right, especially if it means avoiding the ire of customers or the wrath of a Board / Shareholders. It makes sense.

What about measuring CFO performance? Does anyone really care? Hopefully the Finance Chief cares, since his measurable contributions can not only drive his current pay but future pay with a new company.

Problem-solvers rake in the cash!
Problem-solvers rake in the cash!

Rarely – very rarely – do my CFO clients have a written record of their measurable impacts when we begin working together. For many of them, recognizing the importance of those measurables is akin to a V-8 moment. When the light bulb goes on, suddenly it all makes sense.

And I’m not just talking about a listing of measurable results. I’m talking about being crystal clear in all your marketing messages and documents about your ability to understand the problem (the pain factor), create a strategy to solve the problem (you are hired for your problem-solving skills), and then, your documented record of executing the initiative through to both a bottom-line impact and a longer term strategic positioning.

You might be valuable … but when you start with the pain factor, your value increases exponentially.

Tracking your ability to impact often affects your current pay, but it can also greatly increase your negotiating power when you make the decision to move.