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An interview with John Pearson on the truths and challenges of being a finance executive active in the market

An interview with John Pearson on the truths and challenges of being a finance executive active in the market

October 18, 2017 by Stella Petrou Concha

Our finance job market is ruthless at the moment and its daily that I meet people who aren’t getting a look in for jobs despite a flawless career profile. What’s going on? Is it just me? Or is it the market? I had a frank and honest interview with John Pearson who has been out pounding the pavers. He shares with us his candid experience. For those in his shoes, you may find this interview refreshing.

What’s been your experiences as a seasoned finance exec in the market?

Having not been a “serial job hopper”, much of my career has been spent with KPMG and Tyco Flow Control (US Multinational) in various senior positions. These organisations allowed me to acquire a demonstrable track record partnering with organisations to deliver robust financial control, commercial agility and sustainable business growth. As a result, I have only experienced interviews with the opportunities presented by networking contacts.

To say I was totally unprepared for the current market is an understatement. I believe, the biggest hurdle or restriction facing mid to senior level executives is the market’s obsession with “Industry Experience”. My experience with recruiters and employers is that you will not even be considered if you do not tick this box, even though your skills are transferable and it does not take long to learn the key drivers of an organisation.

Some other areas I was unprepared for are uninformative job descriptions, lengthy and convoluted hiring process and no feedback (even when you are a shortlisted candidate).

Unfortunately, this is the way it is today and essentially should be accepted in most situations.

Looking for potential positions, tailoring resumes and cover letters, attending interviews (several in most cases), waiting for progress can almost be a full-time job.

I believe, the biggest hurdle or restriction facing mid to senior level executives, is the market’s obsession with “Industry Experience”.

What has been the biggest learning over the last year in how to approach interviews?

I believe you should be able to explain who you are and what you have to offer and be able to articulate this in just a few sentences. Determine if there is anything you can do better or differently than other candidates. Know your strengths and convey them to the interviewer and provide a connection between those and the challenges/ strategies the employer is looking for.

Be prepared for different types of interviews i.e. phone, video conference, panel, group, structured, unstructured and behavioural.

Silhouette of people around a desk

Be prepared for different types of interviews

What’s been the biggest disappointment? 

I have been shortlisted for several CFO roles that I believed I was suited for (even having the required industry experience!) and I was overlooked. As usual, I was either not provided with feedback or given the generic responses that recruiters and employers like to use.

As a general comment, there have been jobs I know I could have performed but again the focus has been on Industry and not the critical job requirements – perhaps this is why I have noticed some of the same roles re-advertised in a short time frame after being filled.

What piece of advice would you give finance leaders actively looking for their next role?

The current market, particularly in the senior finance market, is extremely competitive and it is not unusual to have several hundred people apply for a role. I believe the key is to focus on what you really want and be persistent in your job search. Don’t just apply for every role you can with the same covering letter and resume – I am guilty of this when I was feeling particularly disenchanted by what I perceived as failure. It doesn’t work!

What’s your attitude to keeping the energy high and focused? 

It is important to have other outlets for your disappointment and frustration. These can be spending time with your family, some form of physical activity or simply reading a book. It needs to be something that will take your focus off the job search. Personally, I go to the gym regularly, go to the beach, and do charity work.

For those in similar situations to John, give Reo a call today and book yourself in to see one of our specialised consultants.


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