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.

Alone

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.

Lost

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.

Panicked

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

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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.

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If Only Finding Your Next CFO Position was This Easy!

I just saw another CFO organization jump into the “job board” postings game. If only finding your next Chief Finance role could be that easy. See a posting, send off your resume, get the job. Except, it’s not that easy and it rarely works well for the candidate. The truth is, job searching requires hard work and effort … and finding that next right opportunity often takes longer than anyone anticipates.

Please don’t misunderstand. I am not dead set against job postings, although I can’t say I am in favor of them either. The important thing is to keep the job board strategy in proper perspective. Since only about 10% of positions are posted – and most of those are NOT the top-quality positions a CFO is usually seeking – that means only about 10% of your overall job search time should be spent playing the job posting game. It seems like an easy way to find a job. It isn’t. Maybe attaching and sending off your resume is easy, but usually it is not fruitful because thousands of other candidates think it is easy, too.

If you really want to move into that next, right-fitting opportunity, avoid the posted position trap as the sole strategy for finding it. Know your value, practice articulating it clearly and succinctly in a manner that begs follow-up questions, and build and nurture a vibrant network. Those activities will yield far better results than sending off your resume to a job posting.

Copyright CFO-Coach 2017

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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.

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The Proverbial Elevator Speech

Every time I hear the term “elevator speech,” it makes me cringe. I know it serves a purpose and I’ll talk about that in a minute, but most people use an elevator speech to talk “at” people – about themselves – far too often. That is especially true when one is in job search mode. Think about a wife talking at her husband, or vice versa. How much listening is really happening? Or, is the other person …

– planning what s/he is going to say next;

– mentally wondering what else is on his “to do” list;

– trying to determine how soon he can disengage from the me-centered conversation; or

– strategically scanning the room to see who else is there?

That is a consequence of using an elevator speech when a back-and-forth conversation would be much more effective. Such communication is much easier when you understand your value and can articulate it in problem-solving language. When asked what do you do, there are conversation stoppers and more intriguing conversation hooks with which to respond. For example,

I am a CFO for XYZ Company; or

I help small mid-cap companies meet their growth objectives.

The first response is typical and completely misses the value piece of a message. Short of something like how long have you been there, the conversation is on its way to a quick end. Conversely, the latter response invites a follow-up question. If you are skillful at handling the follow-up questions, you can keep the conversation flowing while simultaneously creating rock-solid problem solving positioning.

Save your elevator speech – that 60-to-90 second spiel that tells people about you – for round table networking events and when answering the question “tell me about yourself” during an interview or in a conversation with a recruiter. At that point, it is both appropriate and useful because your written marketing documents (resume, cover letter, leadership brief) and digital footprint have already answered the value question.

Proverbial or not, I do not believe an elevator speech is appropriate when you are standing in an elevator or attending a networking event. Talking at people will never be as effective as engaging people by talking with them.

Copyright CFO-Coach 2017

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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.

Do You Need a Disrupting Irma in Your Job Search?

There is nothing like a Cat 5 hurricane bearing down on your state to make you put your priorities into perspective. This is one of those times when I’m thankful I don’t live on the coast, but I’m not sure this particular monster cares much about location. She is bigger than Michigan, twice as big as Alabama, with winds far exceeding the Cat 5 minimums. Talk about a disrupter.

It did get me thinking about what it takes for most of us to be disrupted in our lives to the point of actually taking some action or a different action. It seems to be human nature to be content with misery rather than to risk pursuing and embracing change.

Maybe, as a job seeker, you need a personal “Irma disruption” in your life. Granted, a job search doesn’t cause the kind of physical devastation that a hurricane does … but an extended job search can feel pretty devastating. Stephanie Carson wrote about the ugly side of being unemployed and job searching.

What would happen if you disrupted the status of your current job search?

Your Plan is Only YOUR Plan

And YOUR plan is only as good as all of the external elements cooperating. Much like a hurricane, the job search process can have a lot of un-cooperating aspects …

– A lack of right-fitting opportunities

– The black hole phenomenon

– The ineffective spaghetti strategy

– Far too few responses.

If your plan isn’t working, it might be time to ditch it and do something new and different. The bottom line, though, is that you need a plan.

Refocus on what is Really Important

Usually in an executive job search, what is most important is a strong network. It takes time and effort to build, and most CFOs are quick to tell me they don’t have a strong network in place.

Besides, searching job postings online is easier and infinitely more comfortable … right? It might be easier and even comfortable, but it is definitely not an effective job search strategy for senior finance executives. Refocusing your efforts on building a strong network will ultimately provide a much greater ROI.

Become Other Focused

Who needs your particular problem solving skill set? Sometimes we can become so focused on duties and responsibilities that we forget good marketing means being able to meet the need of someone in a position to buy what you’re selling. In a job search, you are selling yourself.

Hurricane prep is all about “me.” But the reality is, post-hurricane it is all about community. The job search is all about you finding a new position. From a company’s perspective, it is all about what you can do for it.

Fortunately, my business is portable so Irma‘s disruption to my life and business is, hopefully, significantly reduced. My thoughts and prayers go out to those who are in her direct path and to the many first responders standing at the ready.

Copyright CFO-Coach 2017

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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.

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5 Reasons to Hire a Resume Writer

Last week one of my colleagues wrote an article opining that no one should ever hire a resume writer. Rather, candidates should all enroll in her *paid* class so she can teach them how to write their own resume. It is definitely a choice.

I’m going to offer the flip side of why it makes sense for most people, particularly C-suite executives, to hire a resume writer.

Writing is not your forte

As a CFO, your area of expertise is finance, and operations, and possibly IT, and quite possibly you oversee HR, legal, real estate, construction, purchasing, to name a few. None of my finance clients, though, have ever told me that they felt they excelled at writing their own marketing documents.

However, if you do excel at writing about yourself … fabulous! Just be sure you are writing through the lens of value.

You are surrounded by your own paradigms

And those paradigms are usually responsibilities held and duties performed. It is tough to be competitive when relying on things you did rather than how you delivered. And sometimes, it is challenging to step out of that perspective and look at your contributions through the lens of value. It is precisely why athletes hire coaches. The coach can see and evaluate performance from a different perspective.

My one caveat to hiring a resume writer would be when working together is all superficial without being an authentic representation of who you are, how you communicate, and your clear and compelling value as a leader who solves problems. In that case, save your money and do it yourself.

You have one chance to make a first impression

Whether that first impression comes through your resume or a networking contact or your Linkedin profile, your written documents, elevator pitch (if you use one), and introduction all need to convey an integrated value message.

Your value message must be cohesive across all your marketing documents

That does not mean that your documents should be repetitive or redundant. In fact, they should be the opposite. Think of your marketing documents (resume, cover letter, Linkedin profile, leadership brief) as building blocks. Every time a company decision maker or recruiter looks at another one of your documents, they should see more and more evidence, credibility, and viability as the problem solver they want and need.

You have support with a vested interest in your success

Job searching is not for the faint-of-heart. Even with a top-notch resume, if you don’t know how to use it effectively, it probably won’t do what you need it to do. Sometimes, it is nice to know that you have an objective coach in your corner who can keep you accountable and provide support and insight.

If you are a Chief Financial Officer or up-and-coming CFO who is ready to make that great first impression with a compelling value message as a problem solver who delivers tangible impacts, let’s talk. Historically, we see the middle of September as the beginning of an active job search season so the time to get ready is now!

Copyright CFO-Coach 2017

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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.

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Four Reasons for an Extended Job Search

In a recent phone conversation with a prospective CFO client, he asked me how long a job search might take. It’s a firebomb question, and the truth can be discouraging. It might take 3 months, 6 months, or more than a year. Because I want my clients to be reasonable in their expectations of what is ahead in that land mine known as “job search,” I am truthful with them.

My expertise is in creating a cohesive value message and giving my clients the tools to conduct an effective job search. However, the job market is the job market and the hiring process is incredibly flawed. That said, there are a few reasons why a job search can take longer than it should. These are my top 4 reasons why a job search may be extended … and age is not one of them.

Position you are seeking

There are limited Chief Financial Officer opportunities. In fact, opportunities are limited across the board in the C-suite. Add to that fact that hopefully you are seeking the right-fitting opportunity and not just any opportunity, and you can reasonably expect that your job search may be longer than you would like.

At the risk of beating a dead horse …

Lack of planning

Failing to plan is planning to fail. Because it can take time to secure that next right-fitting opportunity, it is incumbent upon a serious executive candidate to create and execute a job search plan in anticipation of a move well in advance of actually needing or wanting to move.

Keep in mind that the passive candidate (one who is open to new opportunities AND employed) has much more power (to negotiate a compensation package) than does the unemployed candidate. I am not saying that is right or fair; merely, that is the case more often than not.

One mitigating factor to my last statement is …

Strength of your network

I’ve covered this in my prior blog post. I find one of two things typical with my finance leaders. Either they have no network or they are not using their network effectively. If you truly want that next, right opportunity … the strength of your network and the effective use of your network matters.

Geographic area

You miss 100% of the opportunities that never cross your path. When you throw too narrow of a net in your job search, i.e., too small of a geographic area, the pool for those limited opportunities shrinks even further.

Two things happen when a geographic area is expanded. You may hear about …

– a dream opportunity in a location you just might be open to considering; or

– an opportunity right smack dab (that is a southern term of precision) in your preferred geographic area.

If you want to discuss how I can help you maximize your unique value in order to leverage your power positioning, give me a call.

Copyright CFO-Coach 2017

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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.

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The Dog Ate My Homework

With that cliché title, I am no doubt dating myself. That’s okay. You already know I’ve been in business for 23 years so I’m definitely not a young pup.

This bit of sage advice from my colleague, Barb Safani, came through my Linkedin newsfeed this morning.

“If recruiters ask you to ‘walk them through your background,’ focus on your core messages of value, not the five positions you held pre-1985.”

This wise counsel is true not only when you are talking with recruiters, but is also critically important when crafting your resume, Linkedin profile, cover letters, leadership brief, and every other written marketing document you use. Not doing your homework, which in this case is not doing the hard work to clearly understand your value so you can articulate your value messaging, won’t result in a 0 grade for homework not done. Rather, it may cause you to miss out on a very lucrative opportunity; maybe even your dream opportunity.

Here area 4 tips for honing your value messaging in the competitive world of CFO job search:

– 10 to 12 are the magic numbers

While a recruiter and/or a company is interested in how you got where you are, what the hiring company most cares about is your ability to solve the kinds of problems they are currently experiencing.

In the fast-changing world of technology, that means your tangible impacts over the last 10-12 years matter much more than what happened in the early years of your career or your degree. Those foundational things matter, but they will not help a company with a problem understand how you can resolve their issue, challenge, or situation.

Which brings me to …

– It is not what, it is how

What you did only matters in the context of how you delivered value as a finance leader who knows how to step in, eliminate or mitigate issues, and make a company stronger and better. That is your track record; that is your core value; and that is what matters to a prospective company.

– Self-identify by value rather than job title or worse, lack thereof

Besides screaming desperation, which shifts the balance of power, identifying by your job title is absent any value to a potential employer. Find your value and then, use it as a neon sign at every opportunity.

– The more you blend in, the less you will be noticed

When I made the decision to work exclusively with CFOs, it was based on two things:

– With whom did I most enjoy working, and
– Where was a gap in the saturated resume writing/job coach market?

The answer was the same for both questions. I loved working with accomplished finance executives and there were no resume writers or job coaches working exclusively with CFOs.

That is true for you as a job search candidate whether you are currently in a search or anticipate a move within the next few years. Identifying how you are different from all your competitors will help to ensure that you stand out from them rather than get lost in the masses.

Your core value and strongest positioning are the most visible when you have identified what you love doing, quantified your track record of success doing those things, clarified your target market, and taken ownership of that space.

If I can help you hone your value messaging, give me a call!

 

Copyright CFO-Coach 2017

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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.

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Ethics in the C-suite

A quote by Sallie Krawcheck made its rounds in meme form on Linkedin this week. It says … “If it comes down to your ethics vs. a job, choose ethics. You can always find another job.” Such truth … especially for Chief Financial Officers.

On a personal note …

Violating your ethics or values will eventually catch up with you … and whether it eats away at you until you are miserable on the job and your health is in jeopardy – or – you begin to blur the lines of what is ethical and what is not … neither of those endings are ideal. The blight of a poor ethical decision can stain the outcome of a future job search.

Always keep your marketing documents up-to-date and understand and act on the premise that you really are always in job (opportunity) search mode. Those two career management strategies can go a long way to ensure that should you ever be asked to violate your ethics and won’t / can’t, you are in a much stronger position to find another opportunity much more quickly.

From a corporate perspective …

The buck often stops with the CFO when ethical violations hit the press. And that … can have a huge negative impact on your ability to find a new opportunity even if you exercise the above two strategies.

May you never be faced with such a situation!

 

Copyright CFO-Coach 2017

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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.

Your Home on the Web

For many people, and particularly for most CFOs, the home of their digital footprint is Linkedin. Short of having your own URL, Linkedin is the only real neon sign option. That means having a robust profile is a critically important piece of managing your career … because it is where you can be found and where you are in control of the message.

Two posts came through my feed this last week regarding Linkedin, generating very interesting comments. The first was about headlines. The second around whether Linkedin replaces a resume. Let’s start with the headline.

The first question was asked as a yes/no poll … do you like headlines that are not standard fare? (i.e., your job title). I don’t have a good handle on the exact statistics, but there were strong opinions on both sides of the fence. Here’s my two cents.

Standard fare is a commodity, generic, and lacks value.

First, it is called a “headline” for a reason. If you believe your current job title is compelling enough to promote interest, do a search on Linkedin to see how many CFOs also use that headline. It’s tough to stand out with “just” a job title as your hook.

Second, companies hire because they need a Finance Leader to solve a problem, get them unstuck, or move them to the next level. The moment you define yourself by your job title, rather than your ability to solve problems and deliver impacts, and you lose your job … is the moment you become much less competitive and lose your power positioning. While nothing has changed for you except your location (outside vs. inside), companies and recruiters view that change quite differently.

Whether you choose to use a branded value-oriented headline or your job title, here are some things your headline should absolutely not say …

– Looking for a job or next opportunity

– Currently looking

– Anything that is not relevant to your branded positioning

The second issue was quite interesting, and there were certainly vocal opinions about whether the candidate needs both a resume and a Linkedin profile … and even whether a candidate would stoop so low as to create a resume if they already had a Linkedin profile. Goodness. While one day, perhaps, sometime in the future, a platform such as Linkedin may well replace resumes … that time is not now.

A Resume and a Robust Profile are Both Necessities

A Chief Financial Officer who wants to be competitive in the marketplace needs both a value-oriented resume that showcases his problem-solving skills AND a robust Linkedin profile that does not replicate his resume.

Your profile will get you noticed. Your branded value-oriented resume will solidify your credibility. They are two different, but necessary, pieces of the same job search puzzle.

Copyright CFO-Coach 2017

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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.

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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

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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.