I recently received an email message from an outsourced bookkeeper (with very limited accounting skills) from one of my clients who will soon be hiring their first internal accounting manager at my
Sorry, but this is really funny, and please forgive me if I come across as a bit beastly or unkind. He uses a Gmail account, and in his email signature, he uses the title Chief Executive Officer.
Before I give you my opinion, do you agree with this? If you were coaching him, what recommendation would you provide him?
Titles, Perceptions, Optics, and Self-Confidence
The person I’m referring to above is someone I like. He does good work at a clerk level. If I were to talk to him about his email signature, I fear I would discourage him.
If I were a betting man, I’d guess that he either a) lacks self-confidence or b) he’s trying to look bigger than he is. Is there a third possibility? I’m not sure. Either way, I’d either suggest not using a title at all or using the term Principal.
What about a LinkedIn profile? I’d stick to Principal or use the generic term bookkeeper because that’s exactly what he is. He’s positioning himself in the marketplace as a back office, offsite contract bookkeeper. If not, he’s potentially confusing his target audience.
However, there is an exception. If this person runs a firm, and if that’s her title inside her practice, then the CEO title makes complete sense.
I cannot say for certain that this bookkeeper will lose credibility in using that title on his generic Gmail account. But here’s a penny for every thought that sees that title. I’d like to know what other people think when they see it.
The CEO Message for CFOs
By the way, I’ve seen more than one CFO solopreneur use the title CEO on their LinkedIn profile. We’re getting into the territory of opinion or extreme conviction, but I still don’t get it. Why? Unless you run a practice with professionals working for you, you’re a consultant, coach, or contractor.
Then again, you’re a part-time CFO, fractional CFO, outsourced CFO, virtual CFO, on on-demand CFO. Pick your flavor. Plus, that’s better positioning as that’s what you want your ideal client to see you as.
While I’m at it, don’t forget to sub out your Gmail account for a professional account (mine is mark @ g3 dot com without the spaces).
The Final Verdict
I’m open to being wrong on this one. Disagree? Let me know on LinkedIn. If you give me permission, I’ll even provide your counterpoint.