Job Hunting

CFOs Say They Hold Five Jobs Throughout Their Career

Robert Half's Staten explains when and why CFOs should change jobs.
Michelle GabrielleMay 21, 2001

Accounting and finance professionals expect to hold, on average, five jobs in their career.

This is the conclusion of a survey of 1,400 CFOs, conducted by an independent research firm and developed by Robert Half International, Inc., a Menlo Park, Calif.-based staffing firm that specializes in accounting, finance, and information technology fields.

“Twenty years ago, people may have been more likely to build their entire career at one company,” says Reesa Staten, VP and director of research at Robert Half. “Today, however, you see more frequent job changes,” which is acceptable, she adds.

However, beware of your job-changing frequency. For example, “more than four jobs in 10 years might make someone look like a job hopper,” which could be a real turn-off to hiring managers, says Staten. Therefore, when making the big move, you need to make sure that you are gaining something significant, especially if it is a “lateral move,” she adds.

Although salary is an obvious incentive for changing jobs, it should not be the only one, especially when the goal is to advance throughout your career. “Ideally, the move should include an opportunity to take on more responsibilities and a better title, as well as a bigger salary,” says Staten.

In general, each career move should be used as a stepping stone. When considering a change in jobs, says Staten, you really need to think “long-term.” Assess your goals and decide what exactly it would take for you to achieve them. Consider your strengths and your weaknesses, as well as your likes and dislikes about specific job functions. “Talk to people who have the [type of] job that you want,” she advises.

A good way to do this, suggests Staten, is to hook up with a mentor, “either from a direct supervisor in your own company or through a professional association, such as the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) or Institute for Management Accountants (IMA).”

And if by some chance, fate has it that your career moves tend to be relatively high, Staten says, “be honest about it.”

“Particularly if you have fallen victim to a company that has downsized, whereby there was no performance issue,” your best bet is to be “straightforward” with the hiring manager, Staten advises.