The CFO Market is Moving

I had a long conversation with one of my favorite finance executive recruiters yesterday. Among other things, we compared notes on what’s happening in the CFO market. We agree … after 12-18 months of hunkering down, senior finance executives are now confidently looking around and beginning to move. 

My poll at SmartBrief for CFOs last week confirmed this observation with a whopping 20% of respondents saying they were heading out the door. 

Two possible reasons CFOs are stretching and beginning to flex their muscles …

— CFOs are making the command decision that it’s once again safe to test the waters. And they need to be proactive. Hunkering down is merely survival mode and ensures nothing.

— PEs, VCs, and Boards are looking at their companies and saying,  … thanks Mr. CFO, but now that you have restructured debt and streamlined processes, we need a CFO who will guide our growth strategy and it’s time to change leadership.

Survival mode is giving up control of your career to someone else. Someone who doesn’t have “your” best interests in mind, but rather, has their company’s (investment) best interests at heart. What is good for the company in the short term is not always what is good for the sitting Chief Financial Officer.

If you haven’t clarified your unique value proposition (what do you have that a company is willing to pay to get), created compelling marketing documents, Googled your name to see what others are finding about you, and begun a proactive campaign to raise your visibility and credibility … you might just find yourself left in the dust.

Are You a Down-But-Not-Out Star?

According to Dr. John Sullivan, the definition of a down-but-not-out-star is this …

… you bring an exceptional record of performance and whatever bumped you from your perch is most likely only a short bump in the road. (Full article)

I was having the “passive candidate” conversation with another finance executive recruiter recently. His comments really resonated given the article by Dr. Sullivan. When asked whether he presents unemployed candidates to his client companies, he said yes … and why they are unemployed makes the big difference. Did they work themselves out of a job or were they terminated?

Working yourself out of a job could certainly define you as a down-but-not-out star. If that does define you, what are you doing to separate yourself from the non-star finance executive candidates competing for those same positions?

Unless you stand out from the crowd, you will blend in; and if you blend in, it’s unlikely your stardom will be shining through. 

A very accomplished CFO prospect contacted me yesterday. When I inquired what he had done in the three weeks he’s been unemployed and before contacting me, he said, among other things, posting his resume on all the public job boards. He has now blended in, commoditized himself, and made his search that much more difficult.

Step away from the job boards and do what your competition is NOT doing. If you have star power, even down-but-not-out star power, leverage it!