Thursday, April 09, 2009

Talk About Leadership to Land the Job

It may seem as though chief financial officers are only focused on cutting back to boost the bottom line, but a new survey from Robert Half Finance & Accounting, Menlo Park, Calif., finds more than half of CFOs think having solid leadership or hiring outstanding talent are the best ways to protect against threats from rival firms. State-of-the-art technology was also cited as a significant advantage by respondents.

The survey, which queried over 1,400 CFOs from companies with 20 or more employees, asked: "Which one of the following will best protect companies from competitive threats in the next three years?"

Their responses:
  • Strong company leadership 28%
  • A focus on hiring the best people 27%
  • Up-to-date technology 24%
  • The ability to develop and implement new ideas quickly 9%
  • Up-to-date competitive intelligence and market data 6%
  • Other 5%
  • Don't know/no answer 1%

The survey shows that leadership is important to retain and recruit the best people and that the best people want to work for strong managers and leaders, says Kathleen Downs, recruiting manager for Robert Half International, Orlando, Florida.

While prospective employers can see from your resume that you’ve been a supervisor, how do you show them you’re also a good leader?

“Tell me about that system implementation. What part did you play in it and how did you assimilate the team?” she suggests. “Talk about how you progressed at your current job. How did you move from one step to another and how did you do the succession planning so things didn’t fall apart behind you?”

Talk about your tough leadership decisions. “Describe the most difficult person you hired that you then had to work out of the organization,” Downs says. In this economic climate, companies need middle managers that know how to recognize when a subordinate is not capable of meeting the requirements of a changed environment and how to either help that person develop the skills or counsel them out.

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