The Sequel … Are CFOs Missing the Social Networking Boat?

If you identified with yesterday’s post and recognize that you are a CFO who is missing the social media boat, here are a few thoughts for your consideration. 

There’s an interesting article on Digiday entitled “Forever Jung: What Makes Social Media Social.” Here’s a relevant excerpt … 

The more a message resonates, the more “social” it becomes. We have many “tools” to facilitate this sharing:  email, Twitter, Facebook, Digg, Reddit, etc.  But it’s imperative that we not confuse our tools with our goals. It is the connection to the “second psychic system” that remains the essential component of “social media.” Understanding this reintroduces the notion that what we say is more important than how we say it.  Empty messages don’t connect because the collective deems them not worth sharing.

Social media sites are merely facilitators of conversation. And NO message is an EMPTY message. 

Content may be king of the Internet, but engaging rules social media. In fact, the infamous “6 degrees of separation” has been reduced to 5 degrees by virtue of the Internet. Think about that. It is quite likely you can reach your target prospect through a mere five people. But not if you aren’t engaging with anyone.

I was reading a newsletter in which a gentleman said he had applied for a CFO position with an Internet start-up. However, the response he got was that his knowledge of the Internet and social media experience were so UNDER-whelming that he referred to himself as a “fossil.” He could well be on his way to being extinct. 

Here’s something you may not know. Since 2005, the demand for social media jobs has increased by 325%. How will you compete for finance leadership positions at companies who are integrating social media to support their core business practice and mission if you, as an otherwise qualified CFO, have missed the social media boat … professionally and corporately? 

If nothing more, embracing social media can put you at the front of the pack. In fact,  as a senior-level finance executive, it could even help you leave the competition in the dust. Not solely because you are perceived as “Internet or Web 2.0” savvy, but because you have strong visibility among the people who need to know about you. Playing in the social media arena goes a long way towards helping you be prepared for the unexpected, or, even better, ensuring that you can execute your 3-to-5-year career plan. You do have a plan, right?

Recruiting the Passive Candidate

You may recall that following the Kennedy Recruiting Conference in Orlando last October, I reported that the overriding theme among the internal recruiters attending the conference was the desire to recruit “passive candidates” … almost to the exclusion of those who were unemployed.  The perception of the unemployed candidate is that they are somehow less … less desirable, less qualified, less attractive.

Now, I know that is not necessarily the case; and if you are one of those unemployed executives, chances are good that you are offended (or worse) by that perception. Sadly, the perception is true and “perception is everything.”

Lou Adler is a thought leader in the recruiting industry and recently penned an article entitled “Recruiting Passive Candidates in Tough Economic Times,” which was published in Daily. Here’s the opening to his article:

Consider this as a basic truth: in tough economic times every job looks better, especially the one you already have.

This would imply that during recessions there are fewer good people actively looking and it’s tougher to get the best passive consider to even discuss your career opportunity. If this is the case, one could conclude that the bulk of the people who are looking during economic downturns tend to be those who are unemployed or marginally employed.

Since this group does not represent the best-of-the-best, you’ll need to rethink your entire sourcing strategy to make sure it’s targeting the people you want to hire.

If I can impress one thing on you, Senior-Level Finance Executive, it is to repackage and begin positioning yourself LONG BEFORE you think you need to look for a job. Assuming you are an accomplished passive candidate, proactively managing your career means you will minimize the chances of being viewed as “not representing the best-of-the-best.”

Career Killers recently published an article, “Restating: The Career Killer,” CFOs fired for erroneous financial reporting are finding it difficult to secure comparable jobs — if they can get one at all.

Here’s an excerpt from my recent article “4 Tips for Avoiding Brand Suicide” that can also lead to difficulty finding your next opportunity.

Never, ever, ever lie.

A no–brainer, right? Apparently not, because people are constantly making the news about careers that are ruined because someone grossly exaggerated (or flat out lied) about something in their background.

You may remember the high–profile MIT admissions dean who incorporated just enough untruths in her résumé to undo her career. And of course a Notre Dame football coach gained notoriety when his résumé lies were uncovered. And the latest tombstone to make national front page news is the Dinner: Impossible chef. His goose was over–cooked.

Just imagine the gruesome details that would haunt a senior–level finance executive. Remember the TV show, the “Untouchables”?

The Internet is a global lie detector, and eventually all lies will be uncovered. Little white lies, exaggerations, and misstatements can be just as devastating as big lies. 

CFO Turnover

Why is CFO turnover so high? David McCann’s article in addresses the fact that one–quarter of Fortune 1,000 lost (for one reason or another) its senior finance leader in 2007.

These two excerpts point to the facts, but the article in its entirety is a must–read.

“For large-company finance chiefs considering job switches, the good news is that a lot of CFO positions are opening up. The bad news is that those who land one of them might not have it for long.”

“Being a CFO at a very large company is a precarious position indeed. ‘The average tenure of a [Fortune 1,000] CFO right now is less than three years,’ Michele Heid, co-managing partner of the finance practice at Heidrick & Struggles, told ‘Five years ago, it was closer to five years’.”

Knowledge is power. With a “here today, gone tomorrow” culture surrounding senior–level finance executives, the questions is … how are you going to use that knowledge?

You can do nothing of course. But when (and it is more likely when, not if) you find yourself on the curb, your marketability will have taken a big hit.

Or, you can begin to proactively manage your career much like you proactively run your company. Where do you want to be in three years? In five years? What do you need to do and who needs to know about you in order to get there?

Isn’t there an old adage that goes something like … failing to plan is planning to fail?

The Most Connected Man on Earth is in the Forum

I am so excited that Ron Bates will be joining us in the Forum on February 19 at 4:00 p.m. Eastern. And you might be, too when you find out who he is!

Ron is a Search Consultant with Executive Advantage Group’s Silicon Valley Office. With +35,000 direct contacts across multiple on-line professional networking platforms, Ron has been referred to as "the most connected man on Earth." You can view his detailed networking profiles on LinkedIn and Ecademy.

Many of you who were kind enough to participate in the research survey mentioned Linked In and networking as some of your challenges. For example, a few didn’t really understand the importance of being on Linked In or, they were on Linked In but didn’t really know how to use it or, want more networking connections and would like to understand how Linked In can help increase connectivity and visibility.

Well, from a career perspective, who better to ask than “the” most–connected person who just so happens to be an Executive Recruiter. Ron is not only knowledgeable about Linked In, he is knowledgeable about how recruiters use Linked In and he is a great person to add to your network.

If you are a member of the CFO–Career–Forum, log in and register today for our conversation on February 19 at 4:00 Eastern. If you are not a member of the CFO–Career–Forum but you are a senior-level finance executive and want to join the call … register here! If you are not available at 4:00 p.m. Eastern on February 19, the call will be recorded, but you must register in advance to receive the recording.

Additionally, we want Ron to answer YOUR questions about Linked In. Please email those to me at prior to the 19th (the earlier the better so we can get them in the queue) or IM them to me during the call at Coach Cindy.

5 Headhunter Secrets

Are you aware that …

–85% of recruiters use online resources to uncover “information” about candidates

–35% of recruiters eliminate candidates based on what they find (Business Week June 2006)

— Blogs are becoming an executive accessory (Debbie Weil)

–6 degrees of separation is now 5 degrees (Columbia University)

–70% of recruiters said their opinion of candidates improves when the find evidence of community service, leadership, awards, and published articles. Opinions decrease when the find candidates own their own business, misstatements and inconsistencies, ethics issues, or are invisible

–76% of executives expect to be Googled; 8% said they found information they wished wasn’t available, 4% posted controversial (up 150% in last year)

–20% of executives have a web presence

If you would like to learn where recruiters are looking for top talent and how to be found by those recruiters, please join Recruiter Bill Vick in the CFO–Career–Forum on Tuesday, October 23, 2007 at 4:00 p.m.

To get the inside scoop, sign up TODAY!

If you are a member of the CFO–Career–Forum, log in and register today for our conversation on October 23 at 4:00 Eastern. If you are not a member of the CFO–Career–Forum but want to join the call … register here!