Top 10 Tips for Finance Professionals Seeking Executive Roles
1. Understand the Market Landscape
The finance sector is vibrant and evolving. It’s crucial to understand the local market dynamics, including major players and emerging sectors. It’s not just about tech giants; the economy has changed and capital is flowing in different direction these days. Reach out to your local recruiters to get an idea of what the landscape looks like.
2. Network Strategically
Networking can be a game-changer. Attend industry events, join local finance groups, and engage with online communities.
The pandemic and quarantine cause many people to be uncomfortable with in-person events, but there is a lot of value to be found there and it’s inclement upon us to reconnect with our communities for professional and philanthropic reasons.
3. Highlight Your Unique Skills
The competition for executive roles can be intense. Differentiate yourself by highlighting unique skills or experiences. If you’ve been part of a successful CTO executive search or have experience in tech-driven finance roles, make it a focal point of your resume.
4. Tailor Your Resume for Executive Roles
Your resume should speak to your leadership and strategic capabilities. Focus on achievements that showcase your impact on previous organizations. Using the STAR method is a good idea.
Situation: Describe the situation that you were in or the task that you needed to accomplish. You must describe a specific event or situation, not a generalized description of what you have done in the past. Be sure to give enough detail for the reader to understand. This situation can be
from a previous job, from a volunteer experience, or any relevant event.
Task: What goal were you working toward?
Action: Describe the actions you took to address the situation with an appropriate amount of detail and keep the focus on YOU. What specific steps did you take and what was your particular contribution? Be careful that you don’t describe what the team or group did when talking about a
project, but what you actually did. Use the word “I,” not “we” when describing actions.
Result: Describe the outcome of your actions and don’t be shy about taking credit for your behavior. What happened? How did the event end? What did you accomplish? What did you learn? Make sure your answer contains multiple positive results.
It’s always a good idea to quantify the result in some way. If you can provide a marginal analysis of the result of your actions, you will find the effect is even greater. Dollars, percentages or FTE hours are great examples of results that can be quantified for greater impact.
5. Understand the Role of Technology
Today’s finance sector is heavily influenced by technology. Understanding how technology integrates with finance – whether it’s in an ERP implementation context or fintech innovations – can set you apart in the job market.
Again, this is an excellent opportunity to highlight your strategic as well as tactical ability set. Everyone needs the books closed every month, but it’s the influence of the leader and their understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the accounting team that help the CFO, Controller or Accounting Manager to prioritize and systematize reconciliations, reviews and other time consuming processes.
The strategic aspects are critical to conveying value. Use the same method to express the impact you’ve had through strategic decision making. The last 5 years have offered plenty of inflections points for a seasoned financial professional to capitalize on.
If you are a lower level leader, you can still have influence and there are great strategies available for portraying yourself in an influential light when it comes to critical decision making and influence is important when dealing with CEOs and Boards of Directors.
6. Prepare for In-depth Interviews
Executive role interviews can be rigorous. They often delve into leadership, crisis management, and strategic thinking. Prepare by reviewing common interview formats used by executive recruiting firms.
Interview prep and implementation are critical to success. Having a prep session with your recruiter 48 hours in advance is ideal. It allows you to practice with your recruiter and perform the out-loud repetition that makes answering questions muscle memory.
7. Focus on Continuous Learning
The finance sector is continuously evolving. Stay ahead by committing to lifelong learning. Engage with resources and training programs that keep you updated on the latest trends and skills needed in executive roles.
One of the most pervasive personality traits of high level professionals is intellectual curiosity. If you are passionate about what you do, it shows through, because you likely keep up with your industry or field. Subscriptions to respected publications is a good way to keep your knowledge fresh and up to date.
8. Leverage Online Presence
In today’s digital age, your online presence can be a powerful tool. Having a brand and respecting it is a great way to passively generate buzz for your skills. If you present yourself as a subject matter expert in your field and continue to support that assertion with interesting articles and analysis on current events relating to your skillset, you won’t need to qualify yourself when the time comes.
Resume optimization is the subject of many conversations, but most executives never apply for a job. They get recruited. That reflects a preference for currently employed candidates and the specificity required for the roles.
Making sure you are listing your qualifications thoroughly on LinkedIn is a good idea. Specific technology you have experience with and explicitly stating all of the industries you have worked in are critical to attracting the attention of recruiters.
9. Seek Mentorship
Guidance from experienced professionals can be invaluable. Seek mentors who have navigated paths similar to your desired trajectory. They can provide insights that are not always apparent from the outside, similar to the expertise provided by CFO Executive Recruitment specialists.
10. Be Prepared for a Long-Term Process
Securing an executive role can take time. Patience and perseverance are key. Use this time to refine your skills, expand your network, and research firms and roles that align with your career goals. Remember, each interaction is a step towards your ultimate goal.
Ghost Mountain maintains a network of coaches that can help when it comes time to considerer the next step in your career. Don’t hesitate to fill out our form below to get set up for a free consultation.