A Perfect Fit

The demand for finance talent may be soaring, but candidates refuse to settle for just any job.

It’s the middle of August
and former Thomasville Furniture Industries
CFO Paul Dascoli, 45, is riding a
300-foot roller coaster at Cedar Point
Park with his two fearless teenagers. But
his mind is on a roller-coaster journey of
its own, contemplating the ramifications of a corporate reorganization that prompted him to resign rather
than accept a diminished role. He has been toiling in a rented office for three months, sending out résumés
and working the phones. “It is intense and tiring,” he says, “but you can’t let up until a deal is done.”

Cut to the West Coast, where Ashley Spencer has a different attitude toward her job search. On
a whim, the newly minted CPA flew from Portland, Oregon, to New Zealand and spent six weeks touring after leaving PricewaterhouseCoopers
following her
fourth audit season. Still not
ready to work, the 25-year-old
spent the next two months
attending weddings and visiting
friends, expecting that employers
would probably move quickly
once they saw her résumé.

Cruise south to San Diego
and find Adam Luger enjoying
life in a similar fashion. Thanks
to being laid off in June with a
cushy severance package, the
former Pfizer finance manager
was free to spend a month in
Germany watching the World
Cup, another visiting family, and
plenty of hours enjoying California’s
coastline. Far from worrying
about his next paycheck,
Luger, 32, deliberately delayed
his job search until mid-August
in order to embrace the summer.

Then there’s 40-year-old
Scott Whitehurst. Wearied by
the friction between two bosses,
Whitehurst left his job as a divisional
CFO at Novartis in
Switzerland last February. Since
then, he has reconnected with
his family and started
rehabbing vintage race
cars. As of August 15, he
had interviewed at five
companies, including
Microsoft, but is in no
rush. “I’m looking for an
environment,” he says. “It’s not about money. It’s
about finding people I
enjoy working with. If I
can’t find that, I may
never work again.”

Most people don’t relish the prospect of job hunting,
but in finance, it’s almost a way of life. Given inevitable
reorganizations, layoffs, mergers, and pure and simple frustration,
many finance professionals end up looking for work
every three to five years. And like Dascoli, Spencer, Luger,
and Whitehurst, all must make important decisions about
what they want next and how they intend to get it.

What’s different these days is that many seekers have the
luxury of choosing when and where they go next. “Right now,
the marketplace for financial candidates is hotter than I’ve
seen it in 20 years,” says Ted Buyniski, senior vice president
at Radford Surveys & Consulting, thanks in large part to Sarbanes-
Oxley-related needs. One indication: Financial Executives International reports that the number of its member
executives “in transition” dropped from 778 to 562 between
June 2004 and June 2006. “The job market for accountants,
finance managers, and internal auditors is still very strong,” so
much so that “anyone with a college degree” is considered fair
game, says Michael Assaad, vice president of permanent placement
for Ajilon Finance.

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