A Perfect Fit

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

Naturally, no one can count on an offer emerging from every
interview, nor expect to jump three reporting levels. Still, “we’re
seeing companies going to greater lengths” to woo finance talent,
says Buyniski. That translates into salary increases across
the board (see “Pay Up“). At the CFO level, sign-on
equity grants are 2.5 to 3 times the regular annual grant, and
employment contracts that protect them from prosecution and
takeovers are more prevalent, says Buyniski. At the nonexecutive
level, sign-on bonuses can total 10 percent of base salary;
staffers can also negotiate four-day workweeks or work-from-home
options, adds Assaad.

But as Whitehurst says, it’s not just about the money (and,
of course, it doesn’t have to be when it’s so unequivocally good).
From CFO to senior accountant roles, many finance professionals
have the golden opportunity of not taking just any old
job, but going after their ideal job. So what is it they really want?
CFO spent a month following several job-seekers through their
searches to find out what nirvana looks like for finance professionals
and how they go about attaining it.

Cutting the Cord

The process typically starts with knowing what you don’t want.
At Thomasville (a subsidiary of Furniture Brands International),
for example, the company was beginning an organizational
restructuring, one that ultimately meant a new president and
CEO and a shift from traditional domestic manufacturing to
offshoring. For Dascoli, that shift meant that he would have to
give up overseeing HR, IT, and brand licensing, a prospect that
did not excite him. “The most exciting thing for me was the
steady progression of responsibility,” so it didn’t make sense to
stay when that reversed, he says.

In Spencer’s case, working at PwC convinced her that there
was no “life” in public accounting. After spending busy seasons
working at least 12 hours a day, six days a week (often out of
town), and long days on compliance work during the summers as
well, she could not see any change in routine. “It’s not PwC in particular,
it’s industrywide,” she says. “They’re always striving to give
you a work/life balance, but I don’t think it’s realistic.” Knowing
that her credentials were good, Spencer was ready for a consistent
schedule, one in which she could make plans and keep them.

Luger didn’t have much choice in his departure. Laid off as
part of Pfizer’s “adapting to scale” initiative announced in April
2005, he was given the option of interviewing at other locations,
but used the opportunity to reevaluate instead. For one thing, he
unwilling to leave San Diego. Plus, he realized he wasn’t tied to
big-company culture. “Being in a company that size, you couldn’t
see the whole picture. I was responsible for $110 million out of a
budget of $5 billion to $6 billion. A decision I made barely impacted
my division, let alone the company.” He was also frustrated by
the bureaucracy. “You had to get consensus from 40 other people,
so by the time you got a yea or a nay, it was irrelevant.”

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