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




The Chief Financial Operations Officer

Today’s CFO is really a CFOO … a Chief Financial Operations Officer. And it has been that way for at least the past 5 years. There is no going back. The CFO is now the CFOO and in some cases, the CEO … Chief Everything Officer.

I almost didn’t read this article because of the title. Despite the title and my disagreement with his last statement, the article makes some valid points. Like …

<<In fact, today’s CFO is more like a COO in disguise.>>

Maybe it would be a tad more accurate to say that today’s CFO position demands a deep knowledge of operations and how numbers interact with operations to drive profitability. I don’t believe there is anything concealed about that fact.

<<… there’s so much overlap with what a COO does that
it seems to me like having both is redundant.>>

I agree. However, it also seems to me that a strategic CFO is in a much better position to do that than a COO, even with a strong controller in place.

My focus, though, is how the CFO evolution impacts a finance leader’s market positioning. Pure number crunchers are rapidly going the way of the dinosaur. Articulating value as a finance executive with a track record of both visioning and executing initiatives that positively impact operations is imperative within a competitive market. That imperative is even more so when there are a limited number of positions available at the top.

Believing that “if you just got the chance to talk with a prospective company, you could close the deal” is understandable. My clients are always very accomplished. However, without strong marketable value positioning that gets you noticed, those chances may be significantly diminished.

Does your resume contain more than duties and responsibilities? It must demonstrate your ability to take your financial and operational expertise and execute corporate initiatives.

Does your digital footprint convey your compelling value messaging? Being a wallflower or using your Linkedin profile as a placeholder can significantly reduce your ability to get noticed by a company who needs what you do and would be willing to pay, and pay well, to get it.

Does your network know and understand how you solve problems over and above the responsibilities you held and duties you performed? It is always about how you have stepped into a problematic situation, resolved the issue, and delivered a tangible impact as proof that you can solve the kinds of problems a prospective company is having.

Without solid operational finance messaging, perhaps there could be some truth to the author’s statement that the CFO may become a relic of the past.

If you are a CFOO who wants some help identifying your compelling value messaging – whether that is in your resume, your digital footprint, and/or among your network – give me a call!

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


Lead with Problems Solved

Whether it is in a resume, a Linkedin profile, or a networking conversation, most prospective candidates, even very accomplished candidates, forget to tell the beginning of the story. While measurable impacts are critically important, they become much more impressive and relevant when told within the context of problems solved. By contrast, default position focuses on responsibilities held and duties performed.

A CFO’s value will never be found in duties and responsibilities. Those things only serve to ensure the candidate looks like every other competitor vying for the coveted finance leader position. Standing out from the competition means answering the need the company has by leading with your proven track record of solving problems, resolving issues, and unraveling challenges that serve as roadblocks to a company achieving its goals.

Because it is uncomfortable for most people, maintaining value positioning requires intentionally. How you brought resolutions and delivered impacts will always trump what you do / did in your appeal to a prospective company. Unfortunately, it is easy to default to talking about duties and responsibilities when we are not crystal clear about where our value lies and how to make value our single focus.

Default positioning can also impact your salary package. Your worth to a prospective company and negotiating power with that company hedges on your ability to take away its pain (problem, situation, issue, or challenge).

Take a look at your written marketing documents and your verbal messaging. Are you telling the whole story of your value by leading with your problem-solving ability? If the answer is no, give me a call. Helping my CFO clients identify and stand strong in their value is what I do!

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



Your Brand (Image) Precedes You

Over the past few months, I’ve noticed many more of my CFO clients choosing branding packages over the standard marketing document packages. Then, as usually happens before I write a blog post, a couple of things along that line caught my attention. In particular, this snippet from a FENG member in a recent newsletter …

… there was a section entitled "See yourself as Others See You" that was quite helpful. For example, when I see myself as thoughtful, a good listener, and considerate under pressure someone else may perceive that as non-demonstrative, unconcerned, and hesitant! So I really agree with one of your summary statements: "You really need to be as correct as possible about the 'person' you are projecting."

Be as correct as possible about the person you are projecting. 

Just pause for a moment and let that realization sink in. The writer offered a good analogy and it affirms that who we believe we are is often perceived differently by others. What are you projecting to others that might unintentionally be sending the wrong message?

The easy answers revolve around age. Since most Chief Financial Officers and other Senior Finance Executives are rarely spring chickens, what message is your brand sending to people in advance of meeting you?

–Rather than wearing your battle scars proudly, are you really conveying near extinction?

–Have wisdom and contributions been trumped by difficulties and responsibilities?

Beyond age, how are you perceived by others?

–As an administrator or a leader?

–An executive who empowers or who micromanages?

–A finance nerd or one who owns the seat at the executive table?

Perhaps, through bad economic circumstances,

–Your resume is in all the job boards making you appear desperate.

–You worked yourself out of a job but your resume screams “unemployed.”

Understanding how others perceive you is the first step in the branding process. Without that knowledge, it’s impossible to create and then take the steps necessary to reinforce what’s true or alter what’s not. That message is apparently resonating with more and more finance executives. 

What image is preceding you … and is it true?

I Never Heard Back

I’m hearing this from some of my CFOs …

–A recruiter called me, said he had a great opportunity for me, asked for my resume, and I never heard back from him.

–I had an interview 3 weeks ago and was told I’d hear back in two weeks, but, I haven’t heard back from anyone.

–After lunch with a CEO, and a great prospect, he indicated he would talk with the senior leadership team and get back to me by the end of the week, but I never heard back. 

So I’m wondering …. Have we lost all professionalism and courtesy in this country? Does anyone who says they will follow up within a specific time frame actually follow up anymore? Does our me-centric world revolve around us to such a degree that we can no longer exercise any form of etiquette to others? 

While we certainly cannot control the behavior of others, we can control what we do. 

— Say what you mean and mean what you say. If YOU utter the words … I’ll follow up with you within XXXX days or weeks … do it. Even if it is only an update to say no progress has been made, do it. Treat others with the same courtesy you expect. Your reputation is at stake here and apparently, it will take very little to differentiate yourself from others … simply be courteous.

— If you’re a recruiter and you’ve given a Chief Financial Officer the cold shoulder, letting him hang after you’ve thrown him a bone … he won’t forget. They tell me they won’t forget. So don’t be surprised to find yourself snubbed when he’s landed and sitting inside the nice corner office refusing to take your phone calls.

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

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. 

The Buzz is Audible

I've noticed some increasing buzz in the corporate finance space. Opportunities that seemed to be flat-lining over the past year have a pulse again. CFOs who spent the last 12-15 months hunkered down in positions they hated are now cracking the door to see what other options might be available. How do I know? My phone is ringing constantly.

While hiring is definitely lagging … and recent stats indicate that pre-recession staffing levels probably won’t return for another couple of years … it’s a great time to be a senior finance leader. 

A high-value, socially well-connected Chief Financial Officer, who may now or in the future want to move, should pay attention to the buzz. 

–Network. The best time to network is when you don’t need to network. You don’t need anything and are in a position to give and help others. Ramp it up. With the ease of online networking, devoting 15 minutes a day to the effort can make a huge difference.

–Get Visible. If you’re brilliant but no one knows about it, does it matter? If you aren’t marketing yourself, it’s unlikely anyone else will be doing so. 

–Be Prepared. The best opportunities come when you’re not looking. Unfortunately, not looking also means you can be caught unprepared. Putting a resume together in a day is a very different process than drilling down to find your branded value proposition and creating a marketing document and online presence that positions you to play from your strengths, passions, and values. 

Resumes are about Strategy

Last week I was contacted by a CFO who sent me two resumes to review along with a request to talk by phone. I would normally just do an email review on one of his resumes, but since he was referred to me I deviated from my typical response.

Turns out I was about the 10th in a long line of resume reviewers that he contacted. I guess he didn’t like any of the other feedback and was more interested in finding someone who would agree with what he did, or he just wanted free advice.

What he did, he told me, is pull an “award-winning resume” from another resume writer’s site and insert his name and employer names. Whoaaaaaaaaa! Resumes are about strategy, not taking a template you like and plugging in words.

Every candidate has his own unique personal brand, value proposition, strengths, values, and goals. Someone else’s resume will not foster powerful positioning from “his” (or her) uniqueness but rather, will more likely result in positioning as a commodity.

It’s what is different, unique, and valuable about you – what you distinctly bring that a company is willing to pay to get – that creates powerful positioning … not those things that are  “like”  or “very similar to” every other candidate. 

CFOs in the Board Room

In case you missed it, published an article summarizing panel comments on who should be in the Board Room. Yes, the consensus by retired-CFOs is that Chief Financial Officers must be a part of the conversation.

If you’re interested, I have a few thoughts from, of course, a career perspective …

— CFOs make GREAT additions to Boards and if you are interested in those positions, Board membership can certainly enhance your resume and differentiate you from the competition. 

— The panel was mixed on how Board positions are filled, but the top 2 ways are networking and recruiters. 

Regardless of whether you are seeking a Board position or not, networking and building relationships with recruiters are a key part of proactively managing a career. Networking only when you “need” to networking is self-serving and often unproductive.

And remember the new definition of networking … who knows about you! Who you know is important. Who knows about you is even more important! Raise your visibility internally and externally.

— Move away from finance speak. This not only applies to the Board room but to interviewing. It’s not the technicals that win the job … it’s the fact that you are a strategic problem solver and can clearly articulate your value proposition. What are you selling that a company is willing to pay to get.

— Collaboration, communication, and confidence. Whether you are part of Board conversations through your CFO role, serving as a Board member, or merely positioning yourself for that next career move … these three soft skills are a critical part of your arsenal. 

Your finance acumen will only take you so far. Then leadership, vision, strategy all come into play. If no one is following, you’re not leading. Leaders are great communicators who inspire confidence and foster a collaborative environment.

The Secret Weapon for CFOs is the Intangible

One of the discussions by the recruiter panel at the CFO Rising conference was around the intangibles of being a Chief Financial Officer. Intangibles … as in presence. It won’t matter how great your finance acumen, skill sets, and deliverables are if you can’t, or don’t, communicate it compellingly. You won’t be able to sell it. If you don’t believe your greatness, no one else will buy it either. 

In addition to the solid finance skill set, operational contributions, and perhaps even the CPA and MBA designations, strategic CFOs who desire a seat at the executive table must bring personal presence, charisma, and the ability to inspire confidence. This is NOT an extrovert / introvert issue. It IS about having confidence combined with stellar communication skills. 

If you’ve been the catalyst that has led transformative initiatives, how are you talking about the problems you solved along the way?

If you’ve been a game changer that has led to growth, what’s the behind-the-scenes story that looks at the challenges and issues you waded through to deliver the growth?

If candidates can’t articulate these compelling stories with confidence, the stories will fall flat. 

Digging deep to uncover a compelling value proposition is hard work. However, as in most things, the hard work inspires confidence and confidence leads to self-belief. When you believe in yourself and your ability to do great things based on a solid record of contribution, you can sell it and companies will buy it. 

CFOs typically call me for the tangible … a resume. What they get is the intangible … a clear, compelling, and authentic value proposition that they can say, believe, and sell.