Tips for CFOs Who Want to Turbo-Charge Their Job Search Efforts


In a previous article (The Invisible Job Market for Financial Executives), I discussed the lack of protocol around recruiting a finance executive in the world of small and medium sized enterprises. However, SMEs do have one common theme when it comes to recruiting a CFO or vice president of finance – they tend to take the path of least resistance. These various paths include reaching out to their accounting firm, personal networking and job board postings. The virtue of these approaches is that they require very little investment, both in terms of time and money. The downside to this approach is that like with most things, you get what you pay for.

Whatever one may think of the aforementioned “path of least resistance”, it represents an opportunity for proactive financial executives who want to (or need to) turbo-charge their job search efforts.

When Companies Advertise Positions

Usually companies advertise positions when there is a sudden or critical need such as the resignation of an incumbent. However as many as there are top finance positions being advertised because of a critical need, there are just as many and possibly more positions that could be available but aren’t in the public domain because the need isn’t as pressing.

One example would be a small to medium sized manufacturing concern who’s operations are at a point where putting in a proper management infrastructure and financial discipline are essential to take the company to the next level. The owner manager knows he has to hire a proper director or vice president of finance, but doesn’t know how or where to look and so has been deferring doing anything about the position for the past six months.

Look for High Growth Companies

Another good example would be one of the Canadian success stories featured in Profit Magazine that have been enjoying five year revenue growth on the order of 300% to 15,000%. You have to imagine that the CEO of a company experiencing revenue growth of 15,000% over the past five years is probably pretty busy. And even though she knows that the incumbent vice president of finance can’t keep up with the company’s growth, she’s dreading the prospect of a lengthy, time intensive executive search process involved in finding a replacement.

Most CEOs Hate the Recruitment Process

Many, if not most executives, actively dislike the recruitment process and there is a natural tendency to defer it as long as possible. This means two things to the pro-active finance executive job seeker. Number one, in contrast to actively open positions that are only advertised/posted for month or so, these potentially available positions have a window of many months before they become critical. Number two, since many CEOs would rather have their problem go away without having to engage in a full blown executive search process, they’ll often hire the first viable candidate that walks through the door.

The key for a proactive job seeker is intelligent research and an equally intelligent (and compelling) pitch. Here are the ground rules for research:

Gather as many sources that may point to companies of interest. There are numerous free on-line directories such as Canadian Business MagazineReport on Business, and Branham 300.

Always go apples to apples. If you’re background is primarily automobile parts manufacturing, you’re wasting your time pitching to an up and coming high-tech start-up.

Do Your Homework

Go to the prospect company website and check out the management team. If the incumbent vice president of finance bio suggests they’re a recent hire or are well- suited to the position, move on. If not, maybe there is an opportunity. And if there’s a controller listed but no vice president of finance that may also represent an opportunity.

Interpolate the specific issues the company may be experiencing as a function of its industry, competitive position in the marketplace, or rate of growth. In a perfect world, you’ll come up with a list of companies in the industry that you’re expert in that have been experiencing dramatic growth and as a result they could or should be considering a change in financial management.

Now all you have to do is send off your resume with a cover letter that highlights why you might just be the person to solve their problem, if indeed they have one. Just remember that you’re playing the odds here. Most of the companies you contact will not be in the market for a director or vice president of finance. But if you do happen to contact a CEO who has been contemplating a change in financial executive talent for some months, and if you have the background that will solve their immediate problems and help them take the company to the next level, you may just be looking at your next job.

If you think you may be in the market for top financial talent in the next few months, call me direct or email me, for a no obligation consultation.

(416) 567-7782 [email protected]

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