Are you Linked In?

Tony LoPinto of Korn Ferry believes “smart professionals are well-advised to get on the [Linked In] bandwagon.” I totally agree, of course.

Linked In isn’t about job search, it’s about networking. And networking is a key piece of savvy career management to ensure you don’t end up unemployed and in a protracted hunt for your next position. It’s not enough to just be a placeholder on Linked In. Your profile has to be complete, interesting, differentiated, value-oriented, findable, and well-branded!

What passed for your daddy’s boring, paper, corporate-speak bio is your savvy, first-person, always up-to-date profile on Linked In. It is accessible to those who are interested in you, your company, and its executive management team … whether or not they personally requested information or even knew about you before they found you on Linked In.

Here’s the bottom line.

Linked In is also the place recruiters go to connect with and seek out top-notch, passive Senior Finance Executive and CFO candidates. If you aren’t there, you won’t be found.

Go on the offensive today and suggest that your entire executive team move into the 21st Century and the Web 2.0 world. That way, you’ll show up long before you even begin thinking about making your next move!

Boring paper corporate bios = dinosaur.
Linked In profiles = networked, connected, and tech savvy.

Can You Be Found by Recruiters?

According to Recruiting Thought Leader Kevin Wheeler, the successful recruiter of today will possess four key skills … the ability to

— find rare talent

— build relationships

— understand technology, and

— sell and close candidates

So here are a few of my questions to you, as the high-value Senior Finance Executives and Chief Financial Officers these recruiters are seeking …

— Can you be found? Easily, or, are you so obscure as to be almost non-existent? “Rare” should be about your talent, not your visibility.

— Do you have recruiters, who specialize in your space, in your network? Do you keep in touch with them on a regular basis? An online Rolodex is very different than a vibrant relationship.

— Are you tech-savvy or moving towards extinction? Your Linked In profile may answer that question.

— Is your marketable value proposition (MVP) crystal clear to you and your target audience to make the close easier for you? What do you have that a client will pay to get because they need it to fix their problems, challenges, issues, or situation?

Finding that next “right” opportunity has never been more challenging, even for top talent. A proactive, rather than a reactive, strategy can give you the edge because the plan is being executed long before you need the job.

Linked In, Facebook, and Finance Executives

Are there any synergies created for CFOs and other Finance Executives by using both Linked In and Facebook? I’ve actually blogged about this several times in the past, but the question was raised again … so I’m happy to respond again.

I believe there are synergies. The traditional view, and one that is held by many Chief Financial Officers and Senior Finance Executives is, draw a line in the sand and never the two shall mix. With all due respect to those who hold that view, it’s an outdated view for many of the reasons I cite in my previous post about CFOs missing the social media boat, and the sequel.

Here’s the skinny from my humble vantage point … 

In the tough and competitive job search climate today, a presence on Facebook combined with a strong professional presence on Linked In can actually work to a candidate's benefit … if done correctly. The ability of a candidate to showcase a 360-perspective is very restrictive on Linked In. Facebook, on the other hand, is much more open and transparent (hobbies, interests, circle of friends, communication style, including grammar and spelling). And, Facebook privacy controls help to keep private things private and non-private things public.

Culture fit is the most difficult part of hiring today. With a branded Linked In presence and a professional / personal Facebook presence, a recruiter and/or a company get a much more accurate, and complete, picture of a potential candidate. When you walk into a room … that picture already precedes you and can give you a huge advantage over the competition during the interview process – your fit with the company culture has already been decided.  

The more tools you use, the more of a time drain social media “can” become. However, with all the seamless integration now available across platforms, it is almost painless to create one post and populate your Linked In status bar, Facebook page, and even Twitter simultaneously. 

And that is all good for building density around a digital footprint that screams … Subject Matter Expert … while separating you from the competition.

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?

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!

Executives, Careers, & Social Networking

Yesterday on Twitter I mentioned that I was reading a very interesting book on social networking entitled “33 Million People in the Room” by Juliette Powell. I’m not all the way through the book, but I will be in a few more days. It’s that interesting.

It’s no surprise where I stand on the importance of having a strong online presence. I’ve mentioned that CFOs seem to be missing the boat on social media … much more so than CEOs. The curious, or maybe not, fact is that operational CFOs seem to “get” it more than the traditional finance leaders do. 

In any event, this paragraph jumped out at me last night and it’s definitely worth your consideration …

Researchers Nguyen and Dang "discovered that not only are socially well-connected CEOs more likely to make more money, they are also far less likely to be fired for poor performance, and, amazingly, they were more likely than their unconnected peers to find new and solid employment when they were shown the door.” 

Now I know the author says “CEOs” but there is no question in my mind that it applies equally to Chief Financial Officers and other Senior Finance Executives.

The author of the book also says, as I’ve said, to ignore the power of social networking is to put yourself on the path to extinction.

If you are a finance leader and want more career-related information, you can get it by following my Facebook Business Page. You DO have a Facebook account, right?

Win Visibility and Positioning in 2010

One of my readers asked for some tips on winning visibility and positioning in anticipation of a recovering 2010. Josie, this post was written with you in mind.

If you read my post from last week, The Competition is Heating Up, you know that competition for every job is going to be even more fierce in 2010. The competition for opportunities though, can be far less. Amazingly, companies are still complaining about finding top talent. That means, it’s time to move out of the war zone (posted position game) and into a smaller battle field (online and offline networking) in order to out-maneuver the competition!

Visibility … With today’s Web 2.0 technology, there is just no excuse for any CFO to not have a strong digital footprint. Create an integrated strategy with all of your social networking sites, using hash tags to push a post or tweet to your other sites. For example, use a Twitter account to gain visibility among recruiters AND build credibility around your digital footprint. Push selected tweets to your Facebook account and Linked In status update bar merely by using hash tags. 

You are who Google says you are … particularly to people you want to know about you. Set up Google alerts on your name so you can see what’s being said about you and by whom. Google your name, in quotes (i.e., “cindy kraft”), at least weekly to monitor your digital footprint. It’s not enough to have “stuff” in Google, a credible online reputation delivers clarity and consistency around your value proposition.  

Positioning … Boring, dull, commodity — being like everyone else — is out. Well, lost in the masses for sure. In high school we all wanted to be “like” the cool kids. As senior-level finance executives, the goal is to stand alone so you can be noticed. Identify what you have that a company is willing to pay (big bucks) to get, and then shout it to your target market … clearly, consistently, and constantly.

I was asked in Monday’s Netshare Ask-a-Coach call about the marketability of a subject matter expert vs. a generalist. My belief is that knowing a lot about a little trumps knowing a little about a lot … and, that everyone is an expert about something, they just might not realize it or know how to unearth it. 

Win solid positioning by understanding what it is that you do well and love doing and who needs it, and then build your communication strategy around that message. 

The Competition is Heating Up

According to a survey by Right Management, as many as 6 out of 10 Americans are unhappy with present jobs and are planning to become active job hunters next year. A mere 13% said they had no plans to move. 

A recent Workplace Insights Survey by Adecco found the most serious threat to organizations in this recession may be the recession’s end … when employers could see a high level of turnover. 

While neither of these surveys break down the numbers between executives and non-executives, many CFOs have hunkered down this year. My guess is that quite a few senior finance executives will be among the ranks of the looking next year.

According to these articles, competition may be fierce … and my guess is that company’s will wait for the top candidate not settle for any candidate. The savvy pre-candidate will be preparing now for winning visibility and positioning in anticipation of a recovering 2010. In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, “it takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.”

Where will you find yourself next year? Among the ranks of the 

–unemployed and looking?

–employed and actively looking?

–or, the coveted passive candidate?

Will you "settle" for your next job or are you well-position to make the move you want?

The “Spaghetti” Job Search Strategy

There’s a lot of angst in the LinkedIn CFO group this morning. Not hearing back from recruiters these days is enough to send even the most stable senior finance executive to the edge of the cliff after a period of unemployment. The job search system is already flawed, and the Internet has exacerbated the breakdown … candidates send resumes to a big black hole and never hear back from anyone. If you haven’t read my article “Everybody Lies,” email me and I’ll be happy to send it your way. 

Anyway, the flawed search strategy that almost every job seeker uses is what I call the “spaghetti strategy.” They throw their resume into the black hole hoping it will stick to something. It doesn’t have to be the “right” thing, just, please, let it be “something.”  

When HR has posted a position or a recruiter has been hired to do a specific search, they are in “screen out” mode. If you don’t meet these specific requirements – every one of them – you’re out. And, short of a solid long-term relationship with a recruiter that might sway them, there is nothing you can do about it.

Playing the posted position game elicits this advice from some … “you must modify your resume for every position to which you apply.” That is because when you are throwing your resume into the black hole and hoping it will stick to something, it requires you to be “all things to all people.” You’re like a chameleon constantly changing colors depending on where you’re standing … or in this case, depending on what the job posting says. 

I believe there is a search strategy is that far more effective, much less anxiety-inducing, and focuses on what you want rather than anything that’s available. It is hard work AND it requires you to move away from the job boards and into a position of strength. 

You first need to identify your sweet spot. Business coach Deborah Gallant, in summarizing points from “What Would Google Do,” said this …

“Mass market are irrelevant, it’s all about niches: identifying what you do really well and doing it supremely well.”

The next step is figuring out who needs what you do really well and then how you can get on their radar screen. Whether that company has a position posted is irrelevant because if you can take away their current pain, having a conversation with you is always an option. It’s hard work, certainly more challenging than the spaghetti strategy, and generally much more effective! 

The Wall Flower Syndrome

A couple of my colleagues wrote some good posts about networking this week … See  “How to Find Your Old Contacts” at the Interns Over 40 blog and “Explain to your network how they can best help you” by one of my favorite bloggers, Paul Copcutt.

Here’s the sticking point for many of my CFOs and senior finance executives. IF they show up, few of them actually engage. Networking … is a verb. It requires action. Standing against the wall and hoping a) no one notices you, b) someone will reach out to you first, or c) merely enjoying the chow … does NOT constitute networking. Neither does using your name to create a place holder within social networking sites. has launched a great regional networking site specifically for senior-level finance executives. It’s a great concept and an even better, easier, and more efficient way to network with your peers. However, just showing up doesn’t constitute networking in today’s social media world. A wall flower is still a wall flower whether in the physical sense or the social sense. 

Wouldn’t you like to be the finance executive who got a call from a networking contact with the inside scoop on an opportunity at a much bigger company with a very nice increase in annual salary and a cushy benefits package that resulted in a new position within just a couple of weeks … even in this economy? If so, you must move away from the wall!

If you aren’t connected with me, please connect with me on …

Linked In 



And, of course, I would enjoy engaging in conversations with you in any of the communities!