2019 Outlook for the CFO Role

What You Need to Know this Year to Level Up as a Chief Finance Officer

CFO Chief Financial OfficerLargely driven by advances in technology, the CFO role has changed dramatically in recent years. Corporate portfolio management and capital allocation are among the areas in which CFOs are taking on greater roles. Communication skills have gained currency as CFOs are increasingly called upon to detail the long-term financial picture to the board of directors and shareholders in simple, clear terms. Effective communication with financial institutions also is critical.

Because business decision-making increasingly requires budgeting and forecasting data, future-oriented CFOs – aided by technology – have extended their reach into all corners of the organization. That means CFOs must excel at building relationships.

In a 2016 UK study by Ernst & Young, almost 70 percent of survey respondents reported they were spending more time providing analysis and insight to support senior leaders and decision makers than they were five years ago. The survey also revealed that CFOs seek an even greater role in formulating strategic and organizational decisions. “Over the last decade,” writes Ian Hong of KPMG, “the CFO’s role has shifted from number crunching to co-driver of corporate strategy focusing on long-term growth strategies.”

The role can be seen from a past, present, and future perspective. The controllership piece looks at historical financial information, while the treasury piece oversees the organization’s present financial condition, and the economic strategy and forecasting portion of the role, of course, deals with the future. In fact, the CFO can be seen as a futurist rather than a reporter, notes George Rotsch, a sales and marketing leader for Intellitec Solutions.

Joining the traditional core areas of the CFO role – financial reporting, audit and compliance, planning, treasury, and capital structure – are ­­­­­­­­­­ business strategies such as mergers and acquisition.

The changes are so profound that two major consulting firms have conducted studies on the role, each concluding the CFO role is actually four roles, and each identifying a different set of four roles:

Deloitte: Four faces of the CFO


McKinsey: Today’s CFO: Which profile best suits your company?


  • Catalyst: Motivating behaviors across the organization to achieve strategic and financial objectives.
  • Strategist: Partnering with CEO and deploying critical-thinking skills toward growing the organization profitably and meeting its goals.
  • Steward: Protecting and preserving the organization’s assets.
  • Operator: Balancing capabilities, talent, costs and service levels to fulfill the finance organization’s responsibilities.
Finance expert: Taking both leadership and ownership of the organization’s financial results.

Generalist: Engaging heavily in business operations and strategy and often contributing strong industry and competitive insights.

Performance leader: Leading transformation both within the finance function and throughout the organization.

Growth champion: Externally hired professional often seen in industries that plan to grow considerably.

Yet another four-role perspective, from the organization behind the Chartered Global Management Accountant designation, emanates from the concept of “value.” CFOs, according to the organization, are Creators of Value, Enablers of Value (by supporting decision-making and performance), Preservers of Value (assets and liabilities management, risk management, internal controls), and Reporters of Value.

Key Competencies for the 2019 CFO Role

Here are the skills experts say are key to the evolving CFO role. In your career-marketing communications, showcase the competencies on this list you possess:

  • Leveraging system capabilities
  • Performance acceleration
  • Project management
  • Problem solving
  • Business planning
  • Influencing
  • Leadership, especially of talented teams achieving exemplary financial performance
  • Risk intelligence: Understanding, management, communication, and mitigation of risk
  • Change management
  • Conflict management
  • Business-partnering skills
  • Stakeholder-management skills
  • Open and transparent communication skills, especially in difficult times
  • Critical thinking
  • Global vision and financial perspective
  • Strategic thinking and agility
  • Capital formation and structuring skills
  • Merger targeting, due diligence, and integration skills
  • Understanding of digital, smart technologies and sophisticated predictive data analytics
  • Creativity

Level-Up Tips

A few suggestions for those seeking to break into the CFO role or expand their horizons in an existing CFO role:

  • Leverage your background. Working at a Big Four accounting firm is no longer the primary route to CFO. If you are looking at transitioning into a CFO role, you’ll find certain types of background especially helpful. The McKinsey report notes that externally hired CFOs brought in as growth champions often come from the realms of investment banking, consulting, or private equity.
  • Absorb the big picture. Connect with operations and strategy teams throughout your career so you can grasp the organization from an operational perspective. Ask questions and attend meetings outside your area. You might even consider stepping up for special project beyond the scope of finance.
  • Build collaborative relationships. You will be better equipped to lead change if you have shored up relationships with operational colleagues.
  • Polish your communication skills. “The best finance leaders use the numbers to tell a clear and coherent story,” writes Tom Bogan in his Adaptive Insights blog.

CFO Trends to Watch in 2019

  • The role of finance continues to grow: With many organizations eliminating the COO role, CFOs are increasingly called upon to ply their strategic and operational skills, especially in the areas of risk management and technology.
  • Technology makes finance smarter and faster: Finance professionals are at the forefront in the adoption of new analytics tools and techniques and are increasingly integrating artificial intelligence and machine learning.
  • Companies face new risks and challenges: Amid demands for greater transparency and better stewardship, organizations must also contend with social responsibility, the demand for privacy rights, as well as the need to protect data and confront data breaches.
  • Businesses are living in the age of uncertainty: The polarized political climate is just one impetus for change and challenge. Regulation, trade policy, and data protection also play a role.

[Source of trends: Microsoft Dynamics 365. (2018). 2019 Finance Trends Report. Retrieved from http://axdata.no/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/2019-Finance-Trends-Report.pdf]


As a career coach, I’ve helped numerous executives transition into more fulfilling careers. Schedule a call with Beverly today for a complimentary discussion https://www.harveycareers.com/discussion.

Beverly Harvey
Executive Career Coach
Forbes Coaches Council Member
Credentialed Career Manager
Certified Career Management Coach


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Reinvention: Options for Reinvention (Part 2 of 2)

This is Part 2 of a two-part series on career reinvention for senior-level executives. Part 1 explores a dozen key activities for reinvention.

Reinvent yourself motivational phrase sign on old wood with blurred background

As we saw in Part 1 of this series, the desire for reinvention often springs from discontent, if not downright unhappiness. Senior-level executives who have lost the mojo of their careers may recognize the need for reinvention – but they are flummoxed as to what such a reinvention might look like. In this part of the series, we explore options.

Reinvention often focuses on career, but can be broader than that, such as a reinvention inspired by…

  • Your bucket list: Is there something you’ve always wanted to do and are determined to do before you leave this planet? Perhaps crossing that item off your bucket list will require you to reinvent yourself.
  • Something you always put off: Similar to a bucket-list item, your long-delayed ambition could finally come to fruition as part of your reinvention.
  • Something that interested you as a child: Our childhood ambitions can be intense and passion-producing. We may have abandoned them years ago for reasons that don’t exist today – parental pressure, discrimination, daunting entry requirements. Or we may have recognized back then a misalignment of skills that can be remediated today. It’s not too late to recapture that childhood dream.

When career is the main focus, reinvention can entail fairly simply work modifications, such as …

  • A new employer or role in the same arena in which you’ve already been working: A simple change of employers – or even roles within your current employer may accomplish your reinvention goals. An advantage here is mitigating some of the reinvention risk that is particularly acute for senior-level executives.
  • New employer in an arena or role that is new to you: Perhaps you’ve discovered your skills are easily transferable to a different industry and/or role. Or maybe you’d like to take your talents from the for-profit world and ply them at a non-profit, or in education or government.
  • New geographic location. A simple change of venue might not qualify as a reinvention, but if it accomplishes your reinvention goals, the label is unimportant.

As mentioned in Part 1, reinvention means scrutinizing your skills to identify the skills that motivate you, that you are good at, and you enjoy using skills. You also need to pinpoint your “burnout skills,” those you may still be good at but are tired of using and would rather not use anymore. Some experts have suggested creating a matrix that lays out

  • skills you are good at and enjoy using
  • skills you enjoy using but that need development
  • skills you are good at but no longer enjoy using
  • skills you don’t enjoy using and are not that good at anyway.

Part 1 also refers to mitigating risk by making temporary stabs at reinvention before making a permanent commitment. Some common options for reinvention can be attempted in small doses while you are employed in your current situation…

  • Entrepreneurship: One of the most popular forms of reinvention is starting your own business, but you can certainly do so while still employed. More and more workers these days, even at the senior-exec level, have “side hustles.”
  • Teaching: Teaching evening, weekend, or online classes enables you to use a new skillset and test out your interest in educating others – while you continue to hold your job.
  • Consulting: This form of entrepreneurship is a natural for executives; ideally you would offer consulting that does not compete with what your employer offers.
  • Volunteering: You have endless opportunities to try different skillsets and discover new disciplines by serving as a volunteer while still working.

With the possible exception of volunteering, any of the above could become your ticket to leave your current job eventually, thus reinventing yourself.

One more significant option for exploring reinvention while avoiding risk is to propose to your employer that you take a paid sabbatical. Most universities and some employers offer paid sabbaticals; if yours doesn’t, it can’t hurt to propose one to your boss.

Once you have committed to reinvention, you’ll want to plan strategies to market your reinvented self. If you’re changing careers, you’ll want effective career-marketing materials, such as your resume, cover letter, and Linked-In profile, that position you for your reinvented career and help you mitigate possible age discrimination. A reputable career practitioner can help you with these materials.


As a career coach, I’ve helped numerous executives transition into more fulfilling careers. Schedule a call with Beverly today for a complimentary discussion http://www.harveycareers.com/discussion.

Beverly Harvey
Executive Career Coach
Forbes Coaches Council Member
Credentialed Career Manager
Certified Career Management Coach


Reinvention: A Dozen Keys to Reinvention (Part 1 of 2)

This is Part 1 of a two-part series on career reinvention for senior-level executives. Part 2 explores various reinvention options.

If you’ve had a “Peggy Lee” moment as a senior executive, in which you asked yourself, “Is that all there is?” with regard to your life or career, you are far from alone. Though author and teacher Regena Thomashauer writes, “reinvention is always initiated by unhappiness,” this unhappiness is sometimes more like a low-level discontent, a feeling of wanting something more or different.

Reinvention may be sparked by changing priorities or a desire for something new. Sometimes it’s reactive – in response to losing a job, for example. Other times, it’s a proactive decision to make a radical change. Blogger John Mashini writes about a third kind of reinvention – one that springs from failure. This one is reflective reinvention, which Mashini says “occurs when you fail at something, but you still have a strong desire to continue in that particular endeavor.”

Whichever type of reinvention is pursued, the stakes are higher for executives as they have more to lose in terms of reputation, income, and self-worth.

That’s why it’s helpful to consider some key actions if you feel like you might be ready to reinvent yourself:

Own your grief at ending a phase of your life. Acknowledge the feelings of loss that come from no longer enacting your career in a certain way for what may have been a very long time. Prepare yourself to let go of what no longer fits your goals.

Determine your reinvention purpose. What do you hope to accomplish by reinventing yourself? Clarify your goals.

Assess your skills and values. Immerse yourself in self-discovery. Now is the time to determine what truly motivates you, drives you, and keeps you engaged. What do you highly value in your work? What skills do you want to keep using, and which ones are you sick of using? Are new skills required for your reinvention goals? How will you acquire those skills? How can you re-package those skills for new opportunities?

Evaluate your risk tolerance. As mentioned, executives have a lot to lose if reinvention goes sour. How much are you willing to risk? Your degree of risk-averseness may temper your reinvention plans.

Engage in proactive learning. This time of uncertainty provides an opportunity for learning. If you are unsure which direction to take with your reinvention, additional learning can point you down the right path. And if you know exactly what your reinvention will look like, learning will help arm you with the skills and knowledge you need for the New You.

Enlist your support team: Don’t try to go it alone; gather a team to support your reinvention. That outside perspective can be critical to your efforts. Your team might include a career or transitions coach. Including one or more mentors also makes sense. Identify where you need extra support, for example, with gaining the skills needed for reinvention. Your greater network is also a vital asset in your reinvention. You may need to add a significant number of new contacts to your network if you are changing fields.

Define the new you. Having executed preliminary exploration, clearly articulate exactly what your reinvention looks like. Be able to tell people about it with pride and optimism.

Write your career story, culminating in your clear vision of reinvention. Reviewing the highlights of your career will show trends and patterns. Ideally, your story will show a natural progression to your reinvented self.

Break it down into smaller steps. Reaching the goals of your reinvention may be a huge and daunting undertaking, but you can keep from feeling overwhelmed if you break the process down into more manageable pieces.

Experiment. Your reinvention is not set in stone. You can try some temporary explorations if you’re not completely ready to commit to reinvention. If you have lingering concerns, you can experiment while still holding onto your former life. If you want to learn more about roles, companies, and industries that are different from what you’ve been involved with, consider informational interviews. While these are usually conducted by job-seekers closer to entry-level, there is no reason executives can’t partake. You might also consider a “side-hustle,” such as consulting while hanging onto to your current job/career. Volunteer work and teaching also give you an opportunity to stretch your muscles, deploy unfamiliar skills, and explore new arenas without giving up your livelihood. See more about these options in Part 2 of this series.

For accountability, communicate your goals. Tell as many people as you can how you’ve reinvented yourself. Doing so will reinforce and strengthen your commitment.

Say no to anything that does not serve your new purpose. Once your reinvention is under way, don’t get derailed by engaging in activities that don’t support your new life. Take on only the “mission-critical” tasks that support your reinvention.

Unquestionably, reinvention is especially challenging for senior-level executives. Remember that you have the advantage of having built both knowledge and networks over a long career and thus have copious resources to guide your reinvention.


As a career coach, I’ve helped numerous executives transition into more fulfilling careers. Schedule a call with Beverly today for a complimentary discussion http://www.harveycareers.com/discussion.

Beverly Harvey
Executive Career Coach
Forbes Coaches Council Member
Credentialed Career Manager
Certified Career Management Coach


Five Things to Know about the Millennial Hiring Mindset

millenial businessmen having conversation inside the officeWith millennials predicted to comprise more than 35 percent of the workforce by 2020, it’s inevitable to see members of this millennial generation in hiring-manager positions, recruiting and hiring senior-staff members who may be far older and more experienced than they are.

Understanding the way millennials think about work, jobs, and career is key to making the right impression in the interview, getting hired, and fitting in with a multi-generational workforce. Here are five general observations:

1. Leadership, teamwork, and communication are always in vogue. Millennial hiring managers seek these traits just as much as their counterparts in other generations. millennials are especially obsessed with collaboration, so stories that demonstrate your team-leader and team-player competencies will play well in interviews with them. As for communication, remember that millennials are visual learners who grew up consulting YouTube to learn how to do things. They are not big readers and have actually been conditioned to skip large blocks of text. That means they are unlikely to appreciate huge amounts of detail on your resume. And they might just resonate with a pitch deck about yourself that you bring to the interview.

2. Millennials respect experience, but as hiring managers, may not be willing to pay for it. Hiring managers in this generation recognize that experience is valuable, but they are more focused on the specific contribution you can make and how productive you are. They do not necessarily associate years of experience with a premium salary. It’s important to describe in the interview how you’ve contributed your productivity in similar situations, rather than emphasizing your vast experience. Show that what you bring to the company – not your years of experience – makes you worth your requested salary. It’s also important to show that a wealth of experience will not impede your ability to react quickly to changing dynamics. You want to show that you are not fixated on looking at new situations through old lenses.

3. If the watchword of real estate is location, location, location, the watchword for older executives under scrutiny by millennial hirers is flexibility, flexibility, flexibility. Demonstrate that you value diversity. Show you are not tech-averse but open to learning new technologies. Prepare for interviews with stories of responding effectively to the kind of rapid change millennials have experienced all their lives.

4. Millennials raise their eyebrows at careerists who’ve worked at one place for a long time. The good news is that job hopping is scarcely an issue for millennials who hire. Instead, the opposite is true; they look askance at those who seem to have stayed in one place too long. Their generation has tended to seek personal growth by moving from job to job. If you have been at your most recent job a long time, prepare an explanation about how you’ve grown in your work and have not stagnated. By the way, if the millennial interviewing you will be your supervisor, don’t count on him or her to stick around for a long time.

5. Millennials admire work-life balance. Stories of the long hours you’ve toiled and personal sacrifices you’ve made for your work are not likely to resonate with millennials, who tend to dedicate themselves to meaningful work, values, and balance between their professional and personal lives. In interviews, be sure to share the volunteer and community activities that make you a well-rounded contributor.

Final Thoughts
Being considered for a position by a hiring manager many years your junior can be intimidating. But once you understand the millennial hiring mindset, you can navigate interviews with these young hiring managers with ease.

If you need help with your interviewing skills, consider coaching with us.
Give us a call at 386-749-3111
Send us an email at beverly@harveycareers.com
Schedule a call with Beverly at www.harveycareers.com/schedule

Could You Benefit from Presenting a Pitch Deck in Interviews?

A dozen years or so ago, a popular trend in the job-search world was the idea of a career portfolio – a physical, tangible set of artifacts, often in a binder, showing skills, experience, strengths, and more. The job-seeker, armed with the portfolio, would look for opportunities to present parts of it in interviews.

Portfolios aren’t talked about as much these days, but that doesn’t mean that visual representations of your employability aren’t still a good idea. But just like the fat books of software documentation that have shrunk down to a single card, portfolios have become more streamlined – as pitch decks. After all, even the most compelling career portfolios have likely been allotted only a small amount of time in interviews; a visual that can be covered much more quickly makes greater sense.

Employers also understand the pitch-deck concept more than they do portfolios, and some employers even request that candidates conduct interviews in presentation style or bring a pitch deck with them.

What are the basics of pitch decks for careerists?
     • A pitch deck has 10-20 slides.
     • It should be very visual and contain very little text; you will provide the narration.
     • It should provide a platform for storytelling.
     • It’s the perfect medium for showing measurable performance – graphs, charts, and tables showing sales, profits, growth, successes in cost-cutting, and more.
     • It should be customized for each interview and showcase research you’ve done on the prospective employer. Consider even using some of the organization’s branding – colors and fonts – which has the psychological effect of making it seem as though you already work there.

What slides should you include?
In the world of pitching venture capitalists with startup ideas, slides describing the Problem/Opportunity and the Value Proposition/Solution are a given. With strong research and tailoring, you can create a pitch deck that targets the specific problem the employer would be trying to solve in hiring you and an overview how you would solve it (you don’t want to give too much away). The “Underlying Magic slide,” recommended by gurus such as Guy Kawasaki, describes why you are a better bet than the competition to solve the employer’s problem. It’s your “secret sauce,” your differentiator, your competitive edge.

If your work is project-driven, you can then include 2-3 slides with project highlights. The slides should show what the project looked like, what it accomplished, and how much it moved the metrics. If collaboration will be an important part of your next job, be sure to show how you worked cross-departmentally or across branches of the company. A pitch deck for investors always includes a slide showing the startup team; if relevant to the next job, you can include a slide showing who and how many report to you, as well as the overall team structure.

You can also include a slide that includes your job target – the job you are interviewing for. This slide is obviously very specifically tailored and shows how you are a fit for that organization.

Testimonials can be part of your pitch deck, especially if they are concise and punchy.

Introducing the portfolio
The ideal tool for presenting your deck is a tablet, but a slim laptop will work, as will printing your deck.

If the employer has not asked you to give a presentation in the interview, listen for opportunities to bring your deck into the interview. Any question to which you would likely respond with an example or story is one that you can consider answering using your pitch deck. Behavioral questions, based on the premise that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior, typically offer the best opportunities to integrate the deck into your response. Say the question is, for example, “Tell me about a time when you had a very short timeline to meet your goals. How did ensure you would meet the deadline?” If you have an appropriate example in your deck, you can respond with, “Sure, let me show you the results I got on a software implementation that had a tight timeline.”

Tell your stories and show the illustrative slides in your deck using the formula Problem (or Challenge or Situation) –> Action –> Results.

Final Thoughts
Don’t forget about the option of using your pitch deck as an online artifact. You may need to create a version with more text to explain the images. You can then convert to PDF and make it available on your own website or LinkedIn profile. Or add a voiceover and make a video of it.

If you need help with your interviewing skills, consider coaching with us.
Give us a call at 386-749-3111
Send us an email at beverly@harveycareers.com
Schedule a call with Beverly at www.harveycareers.com/schedule

Non-Verbal Communication During Recruiter Interview

Happy business people talking on meeting at officeNon-verbal communication strategies can help improve your interaction with the interviewer. Interviewers typically trust the non-verbal messages they’re receiving as well as the verbal messages. If there’s a discrepancy in the verbal and non-verbal, it creates a feeling of uneasiness. Therefore, it’s important to be aware of your body language, posture, eye contact, facial expressions, nervous habits, voice pitch, tone and speed.

Body Language: Your body language speaks volumes about you. How you walk into the interview, how you shake hands, how you do or don’t make eye contact, how you sit, how you gesture, the manner in which you converse, the attitude you exude. It all creates an image of who you are. Candidates who are authentically engaged and present in the interview process involve their body and mind in the conversation.

Posture: An upright posture communicates openness and strength of character. You need to sit tall with your head up, shoulders square and feet flat on the floor. This not only conveys confidence that you can do the job, but also improves your own sense of self-confidence. You will also want to keep your hands visible as this conveys honesty and openness. Avoid folding or crossing your arms in front of you as this conveys defensiveness.

Eye Contact: Shifty eyes and an inability to maintain eye contact is seen as an indicator that you are lying or being deceptive. When interviewing, maintain eye contact with the interviewer as this communicates that you’re telling the truth and conveys a sense of openness. If you’re interviewing with non-American recruiters, be sure to research the meaning of eye contact for that that particular culture.

Facial expressions: There are 43 muscles in the face which will convey your inner thoughts and emotions and will be unconsciously read and interpreted by the interviewer. Be sure to smile occasionally as a smile conveys warmth and suggests that you would be someone amiable to have on the team. Some interviewers will try to test your stress level with weakness and negative-based questions and some will test your reasoning power with brainteaser questions and assessments. During this phase of the interview, refrain from frowns or angry, confusing, or astonished expressions. Stay calm and take your time in developing your response.

Voice: A large part of the impression you make in an interview is not what you say, but how you say it. Try to speak in your normal voice pitch and tone and modulate your vocal tone to punctuate key points. Often when candidates are experiencing the stress of an interview their pitch will raise, their tone will be tense, and their speed of their speech will be rapid. Try to match the speed of your communication with the speed of the interviewer to convey you are on the same wavelength. These non-verbal expressions communicate a lack of confidence and competence.

Nervous habits: Avoid nervous habits such as bouncing your leg, shuffling your feet, tapping on the table, twirling or rearranging you hair, clicking you pen, fiddling with objects in your lap, laughing at inappropriate times, or whatever you do when you’re nervous. Before your interview, be sure to practice thoughts of gratitude which will increase your positive vibrations and heighten your self-esteem. While driving to the interview, consider listening to some relaxing music or a motivational speaker. If you’re accustomed to meditating, consider spending a few minutes meditating to help calm the nerves.

While your main objective is to focus on and engage in the interview, it is important to be aware of any negative non-verbal communication signals you may be emitting.

If you need help with your interviewing skills, consider coaching with us.
Give us a call at 386-749-3111
Send us an email at beverly@harveycareers.com
Schedule a call with Beverly at www.harveycareers.com/schedule

Demystifying the Silicon Valley Job Search

Map of the Silicon Valley area of CaliforniaAlthough the number of job postings coming out of Silicon Valley has trended downward since 2015, this tech mecca is still seen as a desirable place to work. Despite the rarefied reputation of this locale, techniques for landing a job in Silicon Valley vary little from those for gaining an executive job in any other field or region.

Still, some nuances present themselves to those seeking a job in this locale:

Passion for the sought-after employer and dispassion for that employer’s competition are key. As Silicon Valley guru Guy Kawasaki notes, “Passion for what a company makes or does is the most important factor in getting a job in Silicon Valley.” Kawasaki also advises job-seekers to know – and demonstrate dislike for – the competitors of the company they’re pursuing. Job-seeker manifestation: Conduct research that enables you to identify the “hottest” companies of the moment. As in any job-search situation, research each employer extensively, and in job-search communications, convey enthusiasm for what the company gets right. Be able to respond with passion when asked questions such as “Why do you want to work here?” and “What do you know about our company?”

Networking still works. LinkedIn is big in Silicon Valley. There are more than a thousand LinkedIn groups that you can join. San Francisco Bay Area/Silicon Valley Jobs and Careers has nearly 10,000 members; Silicon Valley Product Management has 3,500+ members; Bay Area Artificial Intelligence-Silicon Valley has 3,900+ members; Silicon Valley Sales Professionals has 1,100 members. Job-seeker manifestation: Update your LinkedIn profile. Join groups that will expose you to folks who can refer you to openings. Don’t be afraid to conduct informational interviews.

Pitch culture dominates. Silicon Valley mushroomed through entrepreneurs pitching their startup ideas to venture capitalists. Thus, Valley employers can relate to the pitch. Job-seeker manifestation: It’s not unreasonable to have a 20-slide pitch deck to take with you to interviews. You may not have the opportunity to show the deck, but if you do, the employer will likely respond positively to a well-done pitch. Even if you don’t use a deck, you can pitch yourself, writes Alex Honeysett, by – in one sentence – telling who you are and what you do, by telling your story, by explaining why you do what you do, and telling why you are the best choice to do what needs to be done. Job-seekers are frequently asked: “Why should we hire you?” The unspoken part of that question is “… over any other candidate?”

Resumes are condensed. Guy Kawasaki, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist strongly recommends a one-page resume with just three sections – contact information, work experience, and educational background. Paul Tyma, an entrepreneur and computer engineer suggests adding a section called, “Cool Stuff I Have Built.” Silicon Valley recruiters expect you to prove your worth by having worked on outside projects so an online portfolio can be very beneficial and support your candidacy. The unique culture does not take exception to job hoppers.  Job-seeker manifestation: Create a one-page resume that pares you down to your critical essence and also conveys your admiration for a targeted employer. One way to do so is to identify the employer’s mission statement and explain how it resonates with you.

“Plug and Play” is the watchword. Companies want tech gurus who can hit the ground running. They’re not interested in training employees. Job-seeker manifestation: You will likely be asked to show you are “plug and play” via technical problem-solving and algorithmic questions posed at the interview. You will also probably be asked to describe a recent project.

Hacking culture prevails: Silicon Valley employers seek those who not only adapt well to change but produce change and continuous improvement. Job-seeker manifestation: Bring to the interview a short list of ways the employing company can improve. Take notes during the interview.

Worth Noting
Some experts use the term “Silicon Valley” not so much to identify a geographic region but as shorthand for “the tech industry,” and it’s worthwhile to note that tech jobs in other parts of the United States (Seattle, for example) are actually on a faster trajectory than those in Silicon Valley.

Mature executives may face obstacles in a Silicon Valley job search. A 2017 study from Visier Insights, The Truth About Ageism in the Tech Industry, found systemic ageism in tech hiring practices. While younger workers can increase their chances of hire in Silicon Valley by pursuing a grad degree in the area or taking coding classes, older workers may be disinclined to do so.

Final Thoughts
Executives who aspire to make their mark in Silicon Valley need not fear a job-search process cloaked in mystique. With the exception of minor nuances listed here, a Silicon Valley job search aligns with a typical search.

For more information on “How To Hunt For Jobs In Silicon Valley In 2018”, go to: https://www.forbes.com/sites/laurencebradford/2018/01/30/how-to-hunt-for-jobs-in-silicon-valley-in-2018/#631b95587a5d

If you need help with your job search, consider coaching with us.
Give us a call at 386-749-3111
Send us an email at beverly@harveycareers.com
Schedule a call with Beverly at www.harveycareers.com/schedule

Before You Accept That Job Offer: Learn as Much as You Can about the Prospective Employer’s Organizational Culture

before you accept the job offerYou’ve received an excellent and tempting job offer. You want to accept. All the terms look promising. But you don’t know as much as you want to about what it’s like to work for this employer. How to research?

To mitigate this dilemma before it becomes a dilemma, consider conducting informational interviews with targeted employers before ever approaching these organizations as a job-seeker. If you interview people at the same level at which you’d be working (as opposed to supervisors or subordinates), you’ll have a good idea what it’s like to be in that position.

In the job interview, you can enhance your familiarity with the culture by arriving early and observing how workers interact, what they wear, how personalized their workspaces are what amenities and perks employees enjoy, and lots more cultural clues. Ask questions in the interview that target the culture – for example questions about how decisions are made, how teams are formed, how employees are recognized, acknowledged, and supported, and so on. Ask about growth opportunities.

Don’t be afraid to ask your interviewer about his or her personal experience with the company, especially a question like, “What do you love about working here?” Ask your interviewer how he or she would describe the organizational culture.

Reflect on the interview itself. Was the interviewer welcoming and professional or flustered and unprepared?

Writing for Fast Company, Jared Lindzon suggests some observable items that might not initially seem revelatory of company culture:

  • Sounds and tones of voice: Do people in this workplace sound excited or fearful and stressed?
  • Smells: If everyone is eating lunch at their desks, maybe the culture encompasses significant time pressure.
  • Restrooms: Their cleanliness and order – or lack thereof – may say something about the culture.
  • Length/pace of hiring process: A too-quick hire may indicate carelessness, while a complex and drawn-out process may signal difficulty with decision-making.

If you’ve missed opportunities to study the culture before receiving an offer, you can still research to help you decide whether to accept the offer.

Study the way the organization presents itself to the world. What is its mission? Its core values? Its reputation? Look up news reports on the organization. Sites like Glassdoor offer employee reviews of their employers.

Peruse company social-media profiles. Turn your prospective employer into a Twitter hashtag and learn what’s being said about the organization.

Check LinkedIn to see if any of your connections works at the organization; if so, ask what it’s like to work there. See below (click here) for questions you can ask that reveal the culture. Request to be connected with your prospective colleagues so you can ask them about culture. You might even consider asking if you can shadow the incumbent in the position or a similar position. Or as John Lees, author of How to Get a Job You Love, suggests, ask to “spend a few hours with your prospective team for a group meeting or brainstorming session.”

Consider seeking out customers and suppliers of the organization to ask about culture.

There’s also nothing wrong with calling the hiring manager and asking follow-up questions that target culture – or even requesting another sit-down meeting. Spend time getting to know the person you will be reporting to and learning his or her vision for the organization. This is a good time to ask about advancement and professional-development opportunities – and any other perk that may be beyond the scope of the initial offer.

Final Thoughts
Having performed your due-diligence, you must ultimately make a decision. No matter how much research you do, you have to go with your gut in the end. As Rebecca Knight writes in Harvard Business Review, “[Don’t] succumb to analysis paralysis. Trust your judgment and make a decision.”

If you need help with your job search, consider coaching with us.
Give us a call at 386-749-3111
Send us an email at beverly@harveycareers.com
Schedule a call with Beverly at www.harveycareers.com/schedule

Culture-Revealing Questions to Ask People Who Work in Your Prospective Organization:

  • Why did you decide to work for this company?
  • What do you like most about this company?
  • How does your company differ from its competitors?
  • Why do customers choose this company?
  • What is the company’s relationship with its customers?
  • How optimistic are you about the company’s future and your future with the company?
  • Has the company made any recent changes to improve its business practices and profitability?
  • What does the company do to contribute to its employees’ professional development?
  • What systems are in place to enable employees to give management feedback and suggestions?
  • How does the company make use of technology for internal communication and outside marketing (e-mail, Internet, intranets, World Wide Web, videoconferencing, etc.)?
  • What other technologies are integral to the company’s operation?
  • How would you describe the atmosphere at the company? Is it fairly formal or more casual and informal?
  • Do people in your department function fairly autonomously, or do they require a lot of supervision and direction?
  • What are your co-workers like?
  • How would you describe the morale of people who work here?
  • Do you participate in many social activities with your co-workers?
  • Is there a basic philosophy of the company or organization? What is it? (Is it a people-, service-, or product-oriented business?)
  • What is the company’s mission statement?
  • What can you tell me about the corporate culture of this company?
  • Is the company’s management style executed from the top downward, or do frontline employees share in the decision-making?
  • Is there flexibility in work hours, vacation schedule, place of residence, telecommuting, etc.?
  • What’s the dress code here? Is it conservative or casual? Does the company have dress-down or casual days?
  • Can men wear beards or long hair here?
  • What work-related values are most highly esteemed in this company (security, high income, variety, independence)?
  • What kind of training program does the company offer? Is it highly structured or more informal?
  • Does the company encourage and/or pay for employees to pursue graduate degrees? Is there a tuition-reimbursement program?
  • Does the company offer an employee discount on the products it sells?
  • What’s the best thing about the company?
  • How does the company evaluate your job performance?
  • How does the company acknowledge outstanding accomplishments of its employees?
  • What kinds of accomplishments does the company reward?
  • Are there people within or outside the organization that the company holds up as heroes?
  • Does the company observe any rituals, traditions, or ceremonies?
  • What does the company do to foster innovation and creativity?

Navigating a Job Search When You’re Employed

stealth mode job searchEspecially for executives, job search while employed is tricky. First, at the executive level, “passive” candidates, those NOT looking for a job, are far more valued than “active” candidates. And unfair as it is, the thinking goes that if you are looking for a job, something must be wrong with you.

It’s not as though you can hide the fact with prospective employers that you are in an active job search – but you don’t need to over-emphasize this fact either. It’s a huge plus that you are employed. Unemployed active candidates especially face bias.

The second tricky issue is that job-seeking executives risk discovery by their current employers. Thus a “stealth” job search is in order.

Clearly, careful planning is needed. Here’s where the efficiency of a targeted job search can be especially advantageous.

Ask yourself if it’s the organization or your immediate situation that you want to leave. Maybe the company is OK, but you don’t get along with your boss or don’t feel comfortable in your position. Is there an advantageous move you could make within your existing organization instead of totally uprooting yourself?

Always be “job-search ready.” Even before you have a need to seek a new job, be sure your resume and social-media profiles (especially LinkedIn) are up to date. In fact, as soon as you start a job, update these artifacts. That way, you won’t have to conduct a wholesale update that might get the attention of your colleagues and put the idea in their heads that you are job-searching.

Request discretion from prospective employers and your network contacts. Include in your cover letter a line about keeping your search discreet because your current employer is unaware of your plans. Similarly ask your network contacts to keep your search on the down-low. If you are working with recruiters, be clear that you are conducting a confidential search.

Focus on networking. Submitting resumes to job boards is not especially effective anyway, and doing so carries the risk you could inadvertently apply to your own employer or perhaps a colleague of your current boss who might feel inclined to spill the beans.

Writing for Forbes, job-search columnist Liz Ryan suggests networking for consulting gigs rather than a job: “Consulting part-time is a great way to get a new job,” Ryan writes, “because hiring managers can meet with consultants any time they want (they only need a higher-up’s approval to actually hire a consultant, and sometimes not even then) whereas most hiring managers won’t meet with a job-seeker unless they have a job opening.”

Informational interviewing is a form of networking that can be especially effective in a time-restricted situation. This technique enjoys the same advantage of Ryan’s consulting idea; hiring managers would probably turn you down if you requested a job interview out of the blue but are more open to those seeking information about a particular position or company.

Don’t risk discovery by using your current employer’s time and resources (phone, computer) for your search. Especially don’t participate in phone interviews from your current place of employment. Don’t use your company email address, for example. Be careful not to disparage your employer publicly or in job interviews. A hiring manager is likely to think, “If he/she trashes a former employer, he/she is likely to trash our company.” Continue to produce your best work, even though your heart may not be in your current job. Don’t ask your current supervisor or colleagues to serve as references.

Consider creative scheduling for interviews. Scheduling interviews is a challenge for the employed. Look at breakfast and lunch slots, as well as times at the end of the work day. Consider using personal-leave time.

Don’t give yourself away with what you wear. If expected interview attire is different from what you would normally wear to work, consider bringing your interview duds and changing into them offsite so you don’t stand out as an obvious job-seeker.

Be truthful if confronted by your employer. If you’re found out, you’ll only dig yourself in deeper if you lie. Graciously admit the truth.

Final Thoughts
A job search while employed requires some fancy footwork but can be finessed nicely with some careful planning.

If you need help with your job search, consider coaching with us.
Give us a call at 386-749-3111
Send us an email at beverly@harveycareers.com
Schedule a call with Beverly at www.harveycareers.com/schedule

6 Tips for Successfully Responding to Brainteaser Interview Questions

Brainteaser questions require you to answer an unusual or abstract question and develop a suitable answer based on logic, analysis and hypothesis. They are used to assess your capability to solve a complex problem. In many cases, you are not expected to reach a correct answer. Rather, the recruiter is more interested in your methodology and creativity.

  1. Always Anticipate that a Brainteaser Question May Be Asked. Brainteasers are increasingly likely to be asked across the spectrum of disciplines. Just as you anticipate traditional screening questions, behavioral questions, and situational questions, you can add brainteasers to the list of questions to prepare for. It’s possible, however, to find out more about a company’s interview formats by asking members of your network who work at the organization what interviews are like or consulting Glassdoor, a job search engine that offers a repository of job-seeker-reported questions they’ve been asked by various employers. You can also visit the Brainteaser Interview Questions portion of Glassdoor.
  2. Keep in Mind Why Hiring Managers Ask these Questions. Experts note several traits employers are seeking when they ask brainteasers:

Logic. Hiring managers want to see that interviewees can develop a logical process for responding to brainteasers.
The ability to think on one’s feet. Because the real world of business often requires executives to make quick decisions in the face of unexpected situations or questions, many brainteaser questions mare designed to test this ability and are often timed, increasing the pressure.
Problem solving ability and level-headedness. Employers want to know that you can quickly analyze a problem and devise a solution.
Composure. Hiring managers sometimes ask brainteasers to see if the candidate will get flustered if unable to come up with the answer.

  1. Keep Your Cool. To prove that you’re a candidate who can fill this unique position, take your time and think the question through, then respond calmly. Often times there is not one perfectly correct answer. The purpose is to see someone’s thought process, their problem-solving abilities, and their reaction when faced with a question they don’t have the answer to.
  2. Think and calculate your answer out loud. This advice connects with the “logic” motivation for asking brainteaser questions. Be sure your interviewer knows your logical process by describing each step in your problem-solving approach. In the course of describing your process, you may even decide to switch directions, which is OK as long as the interviewer can follow your process.
  3. Ask for Clarification. Ask the interviewer questions about the brain teaser. An interview is a conversation between two people, not an exam, so you should not feel completely alone when answering these questions. However, do be prepared for the interviewer to say that he or she cannot give you a particular piece of information or assist you.
  4. Have a Response Planned in Case You Just Can’t Come Up with an Answer. As you try to develop your response, you may realize you will not come up with an answer in the allotted time. Identify the skills being tested by the question and explain that, while you don’t excel at brainteasers, employers have cited you for the skills targeted by the question. Perhaps even give an example of how you have demonstrated that skill.

The bottom line is that, while you will probably face brainteaser questions at some point in your job search, you need not be rattled by them. Remain calm and work through the process, demonstrating your relevant skills along the way.