Is There a “CFO” List?

Negative publicity is still publicity, right? Not in my book. Once we form a negative opinion about a company or brand, it takes monumental effort to have our perspective altered. Unfortunately, sometimes we deal with those companies and brands anyway … complaining all the while. My love/hate relationship with Facebook is evidence of a company (and controlled platform) I dislike but use anyway even as I grumble.

I am sure no CFO would be pleased to find their company on the “20 Most Hated Companies” list. That is negative publicity no Senior Executive would enthusiastically welcome.

Reading that list, though, caused me to wonder … might there be a “most wanted” recruiter list for Chief Finance Officers? Obviously not a public list, but quite possibly some kind of internal list probably does exist. If such a list does exist, perhaps it would look something like this …

Top Notch Candidates

This list would be comprised of those visible, known, and accomplished candidates who are employed and in high demand. If you are constantly getting calls from recruiters for exactly the kinds of positions you would be seeking in your next role, then you have probably made this list.

Been There, Done That … No Thanks

If you’ve burned a recruiter or company; pretended to be something or someone you clearly are not – and been discovered; quit a position before you ever walked in the door on your first day; or have a tendency to treat anyone other than a decision-maker with condescension … you could find yourself on this list. And it could be a list that is not only shared internally, but also within the very small world of recruiting. It seems like negative publicity gets faster notice than positive publicity far too often … and job search candidates are not immune from that notice.


This isn’t really a list, but a blank sheet. If you are unknown and choose to stay that way, you will never make it onto either of the other two lists. But, if you desire to be known and become a credible, viable, sought-after candidate, this presents an opportunity to position yourself as a top-notch candidate. Basically, you have a blank canvas and endless opportunity.

Need help getting on that “Top-Notch CFO Candidate” list? Give me a call. I would love to help you if I can.


Copyright CFO-Coach 2018


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, by phone 813-727-3037, or through her website at

Four Things Jobseekers Can Learn From Recruiters

Who better for passive and active job search candidates to learn from than one of recruiting’s foremost thought leaders? Kevin Wheeler’s latest article was on the 4 things recruiters should have learned this year and, it’s a wealth of information for prospective candidates (today, next year, or 2 years from now) as well.

Here are the lessons Wheeler lays out, with my job search candidate interpretation and hopefully, grace from the author.

“Lesson #1: Building and maintaining candidate relationships and generating referrals are keys to survival.”

I see two key takeaways for job seekers (particularly passive candidates) in this lesson. First, build recruiter relationships … long before you need them. And then, maintain them. If you don’t stay top of mind then you aren’t anywhere near the top.

Build your network. And then, maintain your network. If recruiters are looking for referrals, they will in all likelihood be talking with people within your cone of influence who can pass those opportunities on to you. 

“Lesson #2: Use targeted, bold marketing and branding to appeal to the types of candidates you want.”

Targeted, bold marketing, and branding to appeal to the types of companies where you want to work. Recruiters are doing it. Job search candidates should definitely be leveraging the power of targeted, branded positioning.

“Lesson #3: Do not just use, but embrace, emerging technology.”

It’s Web 2.0 and it’s not going anywhere. Job boards are out, social media is in. Maybe not all the way yet, but it is trending that way. Despite that trend, almost 75% of CFOs polled by SmartBrief indicated they either had a Linked In profile but were not actively using it or they didn’t have a profile and weren’t interested in having one. Which begs the question, if you aren’t in Google, do you exist?

I’ll be writing more extensively on this in my next post, but a recent article by another recruiter was lamenting the fact that her client (the company) would no longer accept candidates she found in Career Builder or Monster. I’ve mentioned this before, my recruiter contacts have told me they are not getting paid to present candidates that are found in job boards. It’s time for job search candidates (active and passive) to embrace emerging technology.

“Lesson #4: Accept change as a way of life.”

This is the most frustrating thing I hear from my senior executives. Finding a job isn’t the way it used to be. The rules have changed. The playing field isn’t level. Good isn’t always good enough.

The rules HAVE changed, and if you don’t understand today’s game it’s even tougher to compete. Just as Wheeler instructs recruiters that traditional recruiting methods have gone the way of the dinosaur and traditional recruiting skills will become liabilities, so will not proactively managing a career come at a  much high cost to executives, finance and otherwise.

Linked In Recommendations

One of my readers asked some great questions in response to my post about the value of Linked In, specifically relating to adding recommendations. Here is the excerpt containing his questions …

Of those supporters (particularly European-based), one common thread is the negative impression associated with recommendations and the fact that they may be too positively skewed. Either too favorable from a subordinate or peer. Lack of specificity or genuity from a superior, especially if no longer employed. How do you respond to such critics? Is this simply a difference between North American and European cultures / management styles?

Since I only work nationally, I can’t speak to a difference in American and European cultures. However, I would agree that any recommendations that are too broad or too vague are not helpful to a prospective candidate. Neither does “quantity” trump “quality.” A person who has 5 to 10 recommendations from several of his previous employers that speak specifically to his skills and abilities as they relate to measurable contributions will always outshine 100 recommendations that give mere “atta-boys.” 

Oftentimes these high numbers of generic recommendations come as a result of asking everyone with whom you connect for a recommendation. If they don’t know you, they certainly can’t recommend you. And if they can’t write a focused recommendation that adds value to your positioning, it’s not a beneficial recommendation.

While it may be possible for some people to get recommendations while still employed, the reality is that for “most” people, they are requested and received post-employment. Customer recommendations are always written after the job is completed. This is also true for most employees … don’t leave any burnt bridges and ask for a recommendation upon leaving. With targeted, specific, and value-oriented recommendations, any perceived negativity will be mitigated.

The Inmates Are in Charge of the Asylum

Matt Bud made this statement in one of his recent FENG newsletters. For job search candidates, it must certainly feel that way. Here you are, talented, capable, certainly qualified to do the job … and yet, you hear nothing. In fact, the silence is deafening! Ever notice how few people return calls even when they say they will? You never do that, right?

Back to the asylum. It’s a new era; one which is defined by A-players who have a compelling and visible marketable value proposition (MVP) and WHO ARE EMPLOYED. 

Just today, this article crossed Reuters: “U.S. banks play catch-up on hiring effort.” Great news, right? Until you get to page 2 where it says this:

There is also a bias toward hiring people from other banks that survived the crisis rather than hiring those who lost jobs in the last two years, even if that means matching stock payouts or offering guaranteed bonuses, headhunters say.

The old adage “it’s easier to find a job when you have a job” is still true. Add to that the fact that you have the most power when you are employed. You are more desirable maybe for no other reason than that you are on the inside looking out! More desirable often equates to more dollars.

While we KNOW that CFOs who are unemployed may be just as qualified as an employed CFO, the inmates ARE still in charge and the rules aren’t going to change anytime soon.

Be a Problem Solver

I follow the Recruiter Uncensored blog, and a recent post “Pay Attention to Bad Press,”  although targeted to recruiters, contains valuable information for job search candidates.

Companies are hiring CFOs and other senior executives to solve problems … not because they are trying to fill an empty corner office with a lovely view and a name plate on the door. Companies with problems who find themselves the recipient of some bad press … may be perfect targets for you … if you bring evidence that you know how to take away their pain. 

Value is in the eyes of the beholder. Offering a marketable value proposition proving you can take away pain while delivering quantifiable impacts, make you quite valuable. 

Executive Recruiting for Leaders

David Perry generously offered me the opportunity to read his latest book, “Executive Recruiting for Leaders.” You may recall that he is the much–talked–about and well–known author of “Guerilla Marketing for Job Hunters.”

What I love about David’s latest book is that while it provides great strategies for hiring top–talent, and I think most companies could use this information, it is also powerful insight for my executive clients. With David’s permission, here are a few gems from his book, follwed by my commentary.

–– The leaders who have the talent you crave are likely already employed.

If this sounds familiar, then you’re right. I’ve been beating this drum for quite awhile. They are employed because they are top talent and they understand and can clearly articulate a compelling marketable value proposition.

The best time to position yourself for your next opportunity is while you are still gainfully employed. Once you walk out the door on Friday afternoon with a nice big severance package in hand, the fact is that the ugly black mark of unemployment follows you everywhere you go.

–– Is this an individual (candidate) who stands out from the others you have met? What is it about them that makes them stand out?

This is all about your unique promise of value … also called branding. Employers are not hiring commodities that all look, sound, and act like everyone else. They are hiring those executives who are top talent and understand and can clearly articulate their compelling marketable value proposition. Oh wait, did I already say that. Yes. And it bears repeating over and over again. The war for talent is around these individuals.

–– The most important information you need to glean from an initial interview has to do with their character …. Character can be distilled from the patterns that reappear throughout their life. Themes will appear over and over again – how they addressed controversy, took on new challenges, and how their contribution impacted the organization, or not.

Patterns are related to a unique and compelling brand. It is the “how” you do the things in your life and your career that have been successful. Branding also quickly, clearly, and consistently (patterns) conveys how you are a fit with a company’s culture, giving you a big leg up on the competition. While your skills and marketable value proposition generally win the interview, culture fit wins the job.

–– Pretty Boys – the high energy, totally empty-headed people who like to keep discussions at the 60,000 foot level and can rarely if ever provide anything more than the sketchiest of details.

David was discussing five candidate–types not to hire, and his comment relates directly to not understanding your value to a prospective company.

Candidates are not hired because there is a corner office with a nice bronze CFO plaque on the door. They, along with everyone else, are being hired because the company has a pain, problem, challenge, or situation they need solved. In order to position yourself as “the” person who can solve their problems, the documented evidence of your past performance must be at the face–to–face level.

If you want the rest of David’s inside information, I highly recommend you buy and read the book yourself!