CROSSING THE VALUE DIVIDE...
Value is a hugely subjective topic.
What one business considers value adding, another does not. What one CFO sees as value creation, a shareholder may see as a task or functional responsibility of a finance leader. It is for this reason, CFOs and FDs, as business leaders, need to be aware of their delivery of value (and how they communicate it) when presenting their fit and relevance to a prospective future employer.
Fit and relevance – arguably two of the most important words in anyone’s job search.
As an experienced xecutive search consultant, I speak to a lot of C-suite business leaders. Trying to find commonality across what drives their decision-making in recruiting at the CFO/FD level is sometimes difficult in the opaque world of opinion. After many years and countless meetings and conversations with the C-suite, value and, more importantly, the creation of it, is central to most senior business leader’s recruitment decision making. As a potential employee your role is to create a Value Bridge.
What do I mean by a Value Bridge?
Well, there are several different types of value bridge in economics and business, but in this situation, what I am referring to is the need to create a bridge between the value you add for your current (previous) business(es) and the value which you will create for your future employer. Drawing on the synergies from your career and aligning them with the needs of the business you wish to join.
Sounds simple and obvious right?
I’d agree. Yet I’ve reviewed hundreds if not thousands of CVs over the last 13 years and rarely do I find an applicant, even at a CFO level, who has successfully articulated the value they will create for a future employer or at least done so with relevance. I tend to receive a set of career financial accounts which have their uses but are not necessarily a sales document pitching to a Board for a salary in return for shareholder value.
So how do we build the Value Bridge?
Well for me, it comes down to:
· who your target audience is and perception management
· tailored content in relevant context
To display the ability to create relevant future value for an employer aligned to their corporate goals through the historic value you have added to previous businesses comes down to knowing your audiences underlying interpretation of value.
Shareholders invest in a business for ROCE or ROI, simply put, you need to align your delivery to their want. No point telling the reader you are great at implementing ERP systems, when the role you’ve applied for needs someone to improve working capital and tidy up the Balance Sheet pre-exit. So, put bluntly, one needs to understand the objectives and wants of the business you wish to join in order to tailor your fit and relevance and portray the right perception.
A job description, alone, is not going to articulate the 3-5 strategic plans and vision of a business, nor the issues and challenges it faces, and allow you to align your delivery to it. This is one of the many reasons businesses utilise executive recruiters – not just to headhunt talent, but to act as an extension of your client’s brand, a custodian of perception, to prevent brand erosion, and importantly to manage the most effective message to attract the most relevant candidates.
There it is again, relevance.
So, fit and relevance, creating value through that which you’ve added in the past, perception management………………. how does all this conform to the two page CV mantra countless HR and Recruitment ‘specialists’ advocate?
How do you prove fit and relevance without providing contextualisation to your focused content?
The short answer – you can’t.
As most of us know, context without context can lose its resonance, it’s impact, its relevance. However, content must be focused and relevant to the reader in the first place, otherwise perceptions can be misplaced. As such, I would expect a prospective FD or established FD/CFO to articulate their experience through focused content (relevant to their target audience) in context (relevant to their target audience).
“But what about two pages? My CV will be too long, wont it?”, I hear you ask.
“According to who, exactly?”, is my riposte.
If you have been working for a relatively short period of time and have relatively limited professional experience a two-page, task-led, responsibility-orientated job description…I mean CV…is fine. If you are looking to command an executive remuneration package/equity and prove to shareholders you will drive and deliver returns though change, value creation, design and delivery of strategy/vision, you need more than two pieces of A4.
They next question I get asked is, “how I can articulate this on a CV then?”.
Well, now that would be telling!
The answer starts with you and I having a coffee to discuss the value you’ve added in the past and see if it is the type of value my client need’s creating in the future. And we go from there.
Suitability is based on fit and relevance. Neither of which is ascertainable without providing focused content in context.
If you are wishing to cross that bridge from FC to FD, from divisional finance leader to Group CFO (and beyond) and feel there is a dearth of real world, topical, value adding/creating advice in the market at present, that is truly objective. Why not speak to the experts at crossing tricky career divides? With over 30 years' experience advising senior finance leaders we feel well placed to help you get your career back on track and it all starts with setting the right perception.
Speak to a Perception Specialist at Resourcery Group now. www.resourcerygroup.com