Job Swapping and Career Development

As a middle market CFO, one aspect of my past experience at large corporations that I miss is the ability to develop talent throughout the accounting and finance team through job swapping and promoting from within.  In fast growing middle market businesses, there is ample opportunity for career development, but it stems from the growth of the company and the need for each person to wear multiple hats.  In larger corporations, you need to rotate people through different positions to diversify their skills, improve operations and prevent boredom.  In middle market companies, it’s not as easy or as necessary, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.

If there aren’t enough positions within your accounting and finance team to make it happen, consider temporary job swaps with other departments.   Your financial folks might bring a new perspective to the sales or operations divisions and vice versa.  It will promote better teamwork, develop your talent pool and keep people engaged, just like it does at large corporations.

Getting more out of LinkedIn

I recently attended a workshop on advanced LinkedIn skills.  The course was conducted by Sven Johnston, Partner & Sr. VP Business Development at GigaSavvy.

Sven has over 5300 LinkedIn connections.  That is a lofty goal, but 500 is more realistic.  Once you get there, your profile shows that you have “500+” connections and people will see you as a super connector.  At the time of this writing, I have 259 so I have a way to go.

The first step is completing or improving your profile.  Think of your entire profile as a key part of your personal brand.  It is more than a resume, but done properly, it can essentially replace your resume.

  • You should have a picture of your face that will help people remember you.
  • Your headline can be more than just your title and the name of the company.  You have 140 characters to summarize your personal brand so make it memorable.
  • Use your summary to tell your story.  It can be a little more narrative and interesting than the one paragraph summary you may have on top of your resume, mainly because you have more space.
  • Experience – Does not necessarily need to be limited to paid jobs.  If you gained good experience from volunteer work or contract positions, you can include them as experience.  That will allow people you worked with in that capacity to endorse your skillset and write you a recommendation.
  • Skills & Expertise – List the top skills you want people to know you for.  Ask for endorsements from your former co-workers.  You can have up to ten skills with up to ten endorsements in each.  The goal is to have 100 little faces in the box, meaning you have ten endorsements in each of your ten skills.
  • Recommendations – You need to have at least 3 in order for LinkedIn to recognize your profile as an All-Star.  It can be uncomfortable to ask people to write you a recommendation, so make it easy for them by suggesting what to write.  You can hide recommendations if you have more than you need, but having 4 to 7 great ones on display is a good target.
  • Groups – Join groups that interest you in a mixture of local, industry specific and mass groups.  Participate by adding to the discussions.  Groups extend your network as you are able to send group members messages even if they are 2 degrees or further away from you.  I just created a group called MiddleMarketCFO.  You can be one of the first to join!

The next step is searching for new connections.  Using the Advanced Search options, you can find potential connections from your groups, schools, fields, companies, geographic areas or any combination of those options or more. When sending invitations to connect, you should personalize each message rather than using the default message LinkedIn provides.  While strong connections are best, a weak connection is better than no connection so if you find yourself wondering whether you know someone well enough to send them a invitation to connect, the answer is probably yes you do.

Lastly, review your connections regularly and stay in touch.  You can use tags to remind you who you need to schedule a lunch with or who you need to reach out to with a business opportunity.

You can see my LinkedIn profile using the button below (which you can create in LinkedIn).  If we are not already connected, send me an invitation to connect.  If you are moved to endorse my skills or write me a recommendation, even better!  If you have any additional tips to get more out of LinkedIn, leave a comment below.  I look forward to connecting with you!

View Greg Eyink's profile on LinkedIn

Middle Market driving job growth

Per Bureau of Labor Statistics data, businesses with between 50 to 1,000 employees generated the biggest job gains between March 2011 and March 2012. In fact, the 1.8 million jobs these firms added over that period accounted for more than half of all new jobs and more than five times the number of jobs created by companies with 1,000-plus employees.