3 Keys for Navigating the Job Search Maze

Have you ever been, or even felt, utterly lost?

A few years ago, 2011 to be exact, I was headed to Phil Campbell, Alabama to help following the E5 tornado that devastated that town. Having never been there before and being incredibly directionally challenged, I was completely dependent on my GPS to get me there. Unbeknownst to me AND apparently my GPS, I was following the path the tornado took and several of the roads I needed to travel were blocked by downed trees. I was horribly lost. A gas tank that seemed to be leaking fuel only enhanced my feelings of panic. I was alone and I was lost and I was panicked – not a good combination when faced with trying to resolve a perceived threatening situation.

I know, because my CFOs tell me, that sometimes the job search can evoke the same sorts of feelings. Maybe not all three and maybe not to the extreme, but especially men who hold the breadwinner perspective and have families to support can and do struggle when it comes to participating in the ugly and confusing world of job searching that is often full of either rejection or silence.

Here are 3 keys for combating those negative feelings should any of them rear their ugly heads.


Navigating the job search maze alone can be overwhelming, especially when there is no objective voice bringing balance to a challenging journey. Even a supportive spouse or family member, when faced with a longer-than-anticipated search, can begin to doubt the wisdom of searching.

The truth is, especially at the C-level, the search is almost always longer than it could/should be. There are only so many Chief Financial Officer positions and companies are terrified of making a costly wrong hire.

Be sure your support system is solidly in place for the long haul.


How to actually conduct an effective job search is often a mystery to my Finance Executives. They have spent years immersed in doing their jobs with great loyalty to the companies and teams they have helped lead, so when it comes to identifying their next opportunity, they can be at a loss.

At the senior level, the job board black hole is not your friend. Despite how easy the boards seem, the posted position game is neither easy nor particularly effective.

Navigating the job search maze requires a balanced plan that is both proactive and passive … networking and creating visibility among your target audience.


My panic was born of having a plan that did not allow for contingencies. A paper map, while maybe not being extremely helpful, would have helped me get my bearings.

Panic (or worry or fear or anxiety) can set in when we don’t have a plan, or a plan that is flexible. If your sole strategy is playing the posted position game or posting something like this on Linkedin …

“looking for my next meaningful CFO role”

… something akin to panic is a likely outcome when weeks turn into months and you find yourself lost in the silence that is too often a big part of the job search process.

Create a balanced, flexible plan that plays to the things you do well and will commit to doing, and then execute that plan consistently and constantly … and start well in advance of when you would like to make a move.

I did, finally, get to Phil Campbell, and it was an experience I am not likely to ever forget! Sometimes the best thing we can say about a difficult journey is … there is often great room for growth in the midst of it.


Copyright CFO-Coach 2017


Cindy Kraft is the CFO-Coach and America’s leading Career & Personal Brand Strategist for Corporate Finance Executives helping clients understand their marketability, articulate their value, and position themselves as the clear and compelling choice. She is a Certified Reach Personal Brand Strategist, Certified Reach Online Identity Strategist, Certified Career Management Coach, Certified Professional Resume Writer, and Job & Career Transition Coach. Cindy can be reached via email Cindy@CFO-Coach.com, by phone 813-727-3037, or through her website at www.CFO-Coach.com.


Four Issues That Contribute To An Extended Job Search

You know that old adage … “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”? Such is my perspective on articles and books and courses that are titled something like … “How to Get Your Next Job in 30 Days.” Is it possible? Maybe. Is it probable in today’s economic job market? Probably not for most people. And yet, unrealistic expectations abound, setting up job search candidates for massive disappointment when 30 days pass and unemployment is still a reality. The job search process is challenging enough without going into it with unrealistic expectations.

Here are four reasons why finding that next right-fitting Chief Financial Officer opportunity usually takes longer than 30 days.

There are limited CFO slots

Competition is fierce at the C-level. Getting noticed by companies who need your particular problem-solving skills and are willing to pay, and pay well to get them, requires branded value positioning and visibility. It is nearly impossible to stand out from the competition if you look just like all of your competitors.

With accomplished, contributing CFOs staying in their positions longer, finding those limited opportunities becomes even more of a challenge as the finance leadership space becomes even tighter.

Failing to plan is planning to fail

Most CFOs are so busy working their jobs that they don’t make time for managing their careers. The time to create or update a resume and Linkedin profile is not when a new position is needed, but well in advance of needing or wanting a new position.

Most really great opportunities come when you aren’t looking. However, if you don’t have those documents at the ready, that great opportunity could quickly become a missed opportunity. In fact, without a visible social media presence, that great, right-fitting opportunity might not even be known by a candidate.

A weak network

The value of a strong network cannot be understated. Your best opportunities will almost always come from a referral source, which mandates building your network before you need to use that network.

Over-reliance on ineffective job boards

Job boards have become the bane of job search, particularly the executive job search. Anything that seems as easy as sending off a resume to a job opening that seems like a perfect fit for you and your skills … just doesn’t typically yield much of a return. To say job boards are ineffective is a gross understatement and yet, it is an easy trap for many candidates.

The job search is anything but easy, especially when you are competing in a space with limited openings. That makes controlling the other three issues even more critical to shortening an otherwise grueling and frustrating process.

Copyright CFO-Coach 2017


Cindy Kraft is the CFO-Coach and America’s leading Career & Personal Brand Strategist for Corporate Finance Executives helping clients understand their marketability, articulate their value, and position themselves as the clear and compelling choice. She is a Certified Reach Personal Brand Strategist, Certified Reach Online Identity Strategist, Certified Career Management Coach, Credentialed Career Master, Certified Professional Resume Writer, and Job & Career Transition Coach. Cindy can be reached via email Cindy@CFO-Coach.com, by phone 813-727-3037, or through her website at www.CFO-Coach.com.




The Difficult Truth About the Job Search

Searching for a new job is tough. In fact, it might be one of the toughest, and certainly more stressful, things you will do in your career. For CFOs, there is only one position available (sans division or unit roles) and only so many companies who need your skills. The competition can be fierce.

Lately, I’ve seen much frustration among job seekers on Linkedin. One of my connections said … “Personally, I find searching for a new professional opportunity to be one of the most frustrating experiences anyone can go through during their career.” Yes, yes it is. And the break down of communication between decision-maker, HR, and candidate only adds to the frustration.

Another one of my connections – a CFO candidate – said that after applying for 400+ jobs on Linkedin, he was closing his account. The fact that he found 400 jobs to which he applied is nothing short of amazing. That none of them panned out, though, does not surprise me.

Here are 5 tips to help you avoid falling into the ego bashing, anxiety-ridden, torturous, frustrating, and difficult trap that can be part of the journey called job search.

– Don’t Take Rejection Personally

Easy to say; tough to do.

The right-fitting opportunity is extremely personal … for the candidate and for the company. However, neither of you benefit when the wrong person – from a culture fit perspective – is hired.

Just like you don’t win every business deal, you will not win every opportunity. Hold on to that professional perspective as much as possible.

– Leverage Your Network

Your network will always generate the best possible job leads. Always. Building your network before you need to use your network is always the best scenario. However, there is never a bad time to begin the building process.

When you don’t have a network, you are at the mercy of job boards. Which brings me to my next point.

– Don’t Get Seduced by the Job Posting Game

And such seduction it is. You find a listing. It appears to align perfectly with your skills. You send off your resume. And … nothing. The lure of the job posting game is the seeming ease in matching candidates to jobs. It isn’t and it rarely does, especially at the CFO level.

Devoting no more than 10% of your overall job search time to the job boards will go a long way towards reducing your angst. Your network is a much better source for finding those truly right-fitting opportunities.

– Your Search is Your Job, Treat it as Such

The easiest way to hit job search burnout is by forgetting to create a plan and then work your plan. At the end of the day (whether that is 4 hours, 6 hours, or 8 hours), it is important to put your job search activities aside and do something for yourself. The job search can be grueling; don’t let it also become all-consuming.

– It’s Not Over Until You’ve Landed … and then, Not Really

Don’t give up, or even ease up, on your job search activities until you have a signed, sealed, and delivered offer and have started your job. Even after you’ve landed, remember … you really are, in all likelihood, only between searches.

Copyright CFO-Coach 2017


Cindy Kraft is the CFO-Coach and America’s leading Career & Personal Brand Strategist for Corporate Finance Executives helping clients understand their marketability, articulate their value, and position themselves as the clear and compelling choice. She is a Certified Reach Personal Brand Strategist, Certified Reach Online Identity Strategist, Certified Career Management Coach, Certified Professional Resume Writer, and Job & Career Transition Coach. Cindy can be reached via email Cindy@CFO-Coach.com, by phone 813-727-3037, or through her website at www.CFO-Coach.com.

Job Boards and Senior Executives

Call me cynical but, I saw this tweet …

Join this great jobs site… They have thousands of pre-screened 100K jobs – check em out 

… and just had to shake my head. Job boards are to job seekers what the lottery is to the millions who play every week. The odds are just not in your favor. Sure there’s a lottery winner every week – with emphasis on the “a.” 

It’s no secret that I am NOT a fan of job boards. Particularly for finance executives or other C-Suite executives. Oh, they have their place and certainly can, and perhaps even should, be a search strategy. Again with emphasis on the “a.” However, job boards should never be the sum total of a search strategy.

One of my issues is that most people quickly fall into the deception that job boards make it so easy to get a job that they don’t do the hard work required to actually find a job. If anything, scanning posted positions a a sole search strategy turns into a complete waste of time and exercise in futility. The rejection is fierce and the ego is crushed.

And Linked In groups that are targeted solely to job seekers are really not that much different. This is a great list, but my recommendation would be to NOT use 25 of your allotted 50 group memberships on “job search” groups. All you’ll really be doing is hanging out with other unemployed people and folks like me. Select 5 or so job search groups and then join groups that allow you to show off your expertise and will win the attention of recruiters who are looking for top talent.

The jobs CFOs and senior finance executives want are rarely going to be found on a public job board.

And I won’t even discuss job fairs, other than to see this is a pretty funny article!

Careers, Finance Executives, and Digital Footprints

Recently I had coaching sessions with two CFO clients who were considering offers. Both indicated the opportunities came to them through their digital footprint. 

Last week, my interview on using social media to accelerate your finance career with Mary Ellen Slater of SmartBlog on Social Media hit the web. 

This morning I came across Meg Guiseppi’s great post on the effectiveness of Linked In as an executive job search tactic. 

Connect the dots and … you get another blog post, on a topic I consider critically important for senior finance executives. Creating a digital footprint and then proactive managing your reputation is a necessary career management strategy today. Remember my high school girlfriend post last week?

No matter how many job boards pop up or how many jobs they claim to have or even how easy it seems to just send off your resume to a posting that is a perfect fit for you … it is an ineffective strategy at best. Should the posted position game be a search strategy? Maybe. But it should not be your only strategy or even your primary strategy. 

Networking on the other hand, IS effective. And the new definition of networking is, “who knows about me.” It doesn’t matter who you know, if you aren’t on their radar screen. Getting, and staying, on their radar screen involves creating visibility in places where they are … whether physically or online. 

Now this may or may not be coincidence, but those first two clients I mentioned (one with multiple offers), both blog, have branded profiles on Linked In, tweet, and network offline. They’re visible to their target audience and they got noticed … and they aren’t just offers, they are great offers that fit well with who they are and the goals they’ve set.

What does your target audience know about you?

A No Win Scenario

In yesterday’s coaching session, my client (we’ll call him Jim) told me that, before engaging my services, he received a phone call from a contingency recruiter in California. Jim didn’t know the recruiter, but was told by the recruiter that he had about five or so contacts where he could present Jim. Ahhh, the lure of an opportunity. 

Jim sent off his resume and heard … nothing. He still has heard nothing. My advice, write to the recruiter and inquire to whom he presented his resume, when, and put him on notice that he was not authorized to present his resume to anyone else without Jim’s knowledge and consent. 

Why? Because in this situation, every one stands to lose. 

The recruiter randomly blasts out Jim’s resume to companies in his database so “if” there is an opening at any of those companies, the recruiter can say “he” presented the candidate and claim a fee. If the company doesn’t want to pay the fee, he simply doesn’t hire that … perhaps very qualified … candidate. If the company does hire the candidate, he just might face a lawsuit from the recruiter. Everyone loses.

Sound crazy? Read the story directly from this recruiter on ERE.net

Did you notice this sentence? 

“Our candidate put his resume on career builder.”

If you are currently working with recruiters or intend to work with recruiters in the future, the rest of the story is one good reason, and there are many, why CFOs and other senior-level executives should NOT post resumes on public job boards, in my humble opinion. 

The best way to work with recruiters is to build relationships with them before you need them. Most recruiters are professional and credible. It is the recruiters like the one who called Jim that can cause problems for everyone. The only way you, as a candidate, can discern which recruiter(s) is the best fit for you is to have a solid relationship in place long before you find yourself in the job search market. 

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!


Think Like a Recruiter

I had lunch with Doug Franklin, a local recruiter, last week. If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know that I love getting into the minds of recruiters … how do they think, what makes them tick, and more importantly, how do the operate. Doug is a class act and was a wealth of information as he generously allowed me to pick his brain. Here’s some of what we discussed.

Since I work with CFOs, many of whom have been reticent to adopt social media … particularly anything outside of Linked In, I asked specifically about his recruiting methods and those of his colleagues.  Doug’s primary direct sourcing strategy is Linked In. His colleagues use Linked In AND other social media websites as their primary strategies to direct source candidates. (Notice the absence of job boards?)

That led to our discussion around passive versus unemployed candidates. Doug has been unemployed in the past and has a compassionate side for those who find themselves in that situation. However, here’s what he said …

Clients don’t pay us to present candidates they themselves can find in job board databases.

WOW! If there was ever a compelling reason for executives to create and execute a career survival plan that includes fully embracing the power of building a visible online presence, that statement is it. Doug went on to say that he will sometimes include unemployed candidates as part of his slate of candidates, but never more than 25% because … that is not who clients are paying him to find.

Candidates have the most power when they are inside looking out. While nothing changes about a candidate’s skill set, experience, or record of contributions once he’s on the outside looking in with a big severance package in his pocket; the reality is, his marketability still takes a huge hit.

With the slow down of hiring, and according to Doug excruciatingly slow hiring decisions  as companies are willing to wait for the “right” candidate not just “a” candidate, executing a career survival plan on an ongoing basis and long before you need it, is critical to securing positioning as that “valuable” passive candidate that companies want and are willing to pay recruiters big bucks to get.

In my next post, I'll be providing my thoughts on why CFOs should embrace a social media strategy beyond Linked In … and including Facebook.

Tweets from the Kennedy Recruiting Conference

The Kennedy Recruiting Conference was held in Orlando last week and while I wasn't able to attend, some of the recruiters who tweet kept us updated. Here are some interesting stats tweeted last week:

LinkedIn adds 35,000 new members daily. 41 is average age.

–If MySpace was a country it would have the 11th largest population in the world.

–11% of all all Internet time is spent on MySpace compared to 2% spent on Google.

–36% of CEO's lack confidence in their own company's recruiting department.

–90% of revenue earned by job boards comes from job posting and resume searching. Commodity products. They will go away.

I'll post some other comments, along with my thoughts about the statements, in the next day or two. Stay tuned!

What is Your Soundtrack Playing?

It is hard for many people right now. All the gloom and doom coming from the news media 24/7 is taking a bad situation and making it exponentially worse!

Life is about choices. You can choose to obsess about things over which you have no control, like how awful the financial markets are right now; or you can choose to focus on those things which you can control, like managing your career.  Unless you are successfully self–employed, everyone is either in a job search or between searches. What you do and how you do it will be the difference between finding yourself regularly in an active search – or – enjoying the luxury of constantly being between searches.

If the soundtrack playing in your head has been negative: “I desperately need a job” or “I don’t have a job” or “I’ll never find a job” or even untrue: “I have a job so I’m safe,” maybe it’s time for a new soundtrack and a fresh perspective.

The old soundtrack would tell you to spend the majority of your time perusing posted positions on the job boards. The new soundtrack will tell you to focus on networking … meeting people who need to know about you and can introduce you to people who can help you.

The old soundtrack will tell you that your resume is not the problem even though you aren’t getting the kinds of results you want and deserve. The new soundtrack will tell you that understanding and articulating your marketable value proposition will make you a more compelling and competitive candidate.

The old soundtrack would tell you to shotgun your resume to everyone for every thing. The new soundtrack will tell you to focus your efforts on a smaller, more targeted market.

The old soundtrack would tell you to rest on your laurels after all, you’ve landed and this new job isn’t going anywhere soon. The new soundtrack will tell you to work diligently on building an online visible presence so you can choose when you leave and where you go.

If you wake up today planning to do the same things you did yesterday while expecting different results, perhaps it really is time to adopt a different perspective and play a new soundtrack in order to actually get better results.