EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

Defining who you are

From our daily member newsletter on August 30, 2016

Probably one of the hardest things to do in life is to define who you are. Are you really your resume? Because we tend to be at companies longer than the members of other discipline areas, the reality of what it is we REALLY do best is not always obvious to us. A very long time ago when one of my friends by the name of Bob Graham, came to speak at our meeting in Connecticut, he shared with us a great interview question: What’s the biggest misperception about you? Believing that others have a misperception about you actually implies that there is something about yourself that you don’t accept. Unfortunately, most of us are often the last to know [ Read more… ]

Taking your temperature too frequently

From our daily member newsletter on August 29, 2016

I don’t know if any of you feel as I do, but when I have a cold or the flu, it is at once annoying and thoughtful that those who care about us are constantly checking up on us. Thank goodness I’m not sick very often, but when I am I prefer to be left alone during “the cure.” Human beings vary, of course. Some of us are hypochondriacs, and some of us are foolish to the point of going out when we are sick. The human experience, as in most things, runs the gamut. So, like I said, if those who care about you “discover” that you are a little under the weather, the constant phone calls or the [ Read more… ]

Hurting other members

From our daily member newsletter on August 28, 2016

It is of course true that our own self-interest at times quite naturally overrides our concern for others. If I am drowning, I can’t very well be expected to save someone else. It’s a kind of a “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs” thing. For example, I find that members are frequently more helpful to other members AFTER they find a job. Now that they are safe, they can attend to others. When it comes to reasonably well compensated jobs posted in our newsletter, it has been slim pickings most nights. I can understand the reasoning of those who respond to everything. They are for good and valid reasons a little desperate. Holding back from the dinner table is very difficult when [ Read more… ]

Painting a pretty picture

From our daily member newsletter on August 25, 2016

I have often been heard to say that your 90-second announcement is a STORY about you. It isn’t a history book. And, it doesn’t have to be detailed. In much the same way, your resume is a story about you. However, being in print, you need to keep in mind that you aren’t there to present it with meaningful gestures, shined shoes and properly fitting clothes. No, I’m afraid that your opus is standing there all by itself. A frightening thought, isn’t it? No one is there to explain what you “meant by that remark.” I hope all of you have gotten into the habit of picking up resumes at networking meetings. If you have, have you taken the time [ Read more… ]

Career decisions

From our daily member newsletter on August 24, 2016

Making career decisions is never easy. And unfortunately, being a senior financial executive doesn’t make it any easier. In fact, because you are at a point in your career where you have probably held almost all of the appropriate titles for your skills, it is actually harder to be selected for jobs you would enjoy doing, but for which you appear to be taking a step back. For example, if you have been CFO of a small company, you might be hard pressed being considered for a Controller slot at a much larger firm. As I have mentioned from time to time, if we expect the world to be flexible about opportunities for which we should be considered, we also [ Read more… ]

Working those business contacts

From our daily member newsletter on August 23, 2016

One of the biggest half-truths in this world is the idea of saving your business contacts. The truth is that unless you “work” your business contacts they don’t know you exist. Sure, you don’t want to “bother” them, but unless you call once in a while with something they actually can do for you, or something you can actually do for them, what are you saving them for? The approach I am going to suggest to you will not only yield those hidden jobs for all of us, they will also make you a lot of friends (at least within The FENG), mutually make you aware of jobs about which you would otherwise never have heard (from others), and keep [ Read more… ]

A curious requirement

From our daily member newsletter on August 22, 2016

As our organization has gotten better known, each week we get several membership applications without a sponsor indicated. But as all of you know, a sponsor is required. Our first approach is to ask “Who sent you to our website?” Usually that brings up the name of a member. But failing that, we ask the applicant to pick up that 400 pound phone and call us. Strangely, some never do. It always has been my thinking that what makes this whole thing work that we all kind of know each other. I don’t think that it is all that easy for strangers to share job leads with each other. What exactly would be the incentive? But in the case of [ Read more… ]

Ensuring a productive interview

From our daily member newsletter on August 21, 2016

I think you will find as you are out and about interviewing, that there are always at least two difficult questions that an interviewer would like to ask you. And, not much will happen during an interview unless you get them out of the way. While the “elephant sitting in the room” varies by person, the most obvious question first question is why you left your last job. I tend towards wise guy answers like: They stopped paying me. Or the ever popular: When the security guard threw me out into the street with all my possessions, I didn’t think it made sense to go back to work. Why this question is so important is hard to explain, but just [ Read more… ]

Asking for and accepting help

From our daily member newsletter on August 18, 2016

In today’s mail came a note from one of our new members that warmed my heart. He forwarded a note to me with a copy of his resume and as I scrolled through his message I smiled to myself in pride at what a remarkable organization we have created for ourselves. I didn’t actually need yet another copy of his resume, but the story of why he sent it was what was important. It seems he had been in touch with his chapter chair and special interest group chair to make them aware of his joining and he had also been in touch with Jim Saylor to ask for a peer review of this important document from our esteemed Resume [ Read more… ]

Matt’s lost friends society

From our daily member newsletter on August 17, 2016

Over the past few years I have had the great pleasure of reconnecting with three very old friends. Not only have I known them each for a long time, but like me, they are getting old. You would think that since all roads lead to Matt Bud, I would long ago have reconnected with everyone I ever knew from my over 40 year career, but I guess like the law of the last typo, there is always one more. And, it is always a pleasant surprise. As I moved from company to company before Al Gore invented the Internet, I wasn’t always able to stay in touch with those I knew and enjoyed working with. Try as I might, especially [ Read more… ]

Abraham Lincoln and Bill Gates

From our daily member newsletter on August 16, 2016

In my distant past I remember seeing a commercial in which an Abraham Lincoln look alike was sitting in an employment agency office. As the recruiter was flipping through his Rolodex he was telling old Abe that without “that sheepskin” he really wasn’t going anywhere. I guess the same thing was probably told to Bill Gates. While I don’t recommend avoiding college and/or not finishing your degrees as a career strategy, there are other certifications and educational achievements such as CPA, CMA and MBA that more often than not seem to be REQUIRED in the postings most frequently appearing in our newsletter. Under the heading of “don’t believe everything you hear,” it would be foolish in the extreme to believe [ Read more… ]

A long term activity

From our daily member newsletter on August 15, 2016

I was shooting the breeze with a few of my fellow sailors this past weekend and got to thinking about the fact that for most of us, our worst misadventures happened early in our careers as sailors. When I got into sailing in my mid-30’s I started out by taking a course with the Coast Guard Auxiliary, much as many of you have had the pleasure of going through outplacement. I also did a lot of reading about sailing and subscribed to several sailing magazines over the years, much as all of you have gotten books about job search and hopefully take the time to read my evening editorial and Doug Fine’s job hunting tips. The mistake that many members [ Read more… ]

How do you create value?

From our daily member newsletter on August 14, 2016

When asked what I do, my gut reaction is just to say “I do the Matt Bud thing.” In a sense, I don’t know what I do anymore, I just do. You see, I have been at it a while and I don’t tend to spend a lot of time thinking about it. (Frankly, I don’t have a lot of time TO think about it.) To a degree, those of us in the financial professions tend NOT to spend a lot of time thinking about the value we bring to the organizations we serve. We are for the most part long service employees. If the company didn’t value our services, I assume that we wouldn’t be able to hang around [ Read more… ]

Hanging onto the pain

From our daily member newsletter on August 11, 2016

I don’t know if any of you remember the movie Rain Man with Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise, but Raymond had a method for dealing with his pain. He kept a journal. Anytime someone hurt him, he wrote it down in his book. I don’t remember if he ever referred to his book or reread it for entertainment, but the lesson is perhaps an easy one. If you write down what is bothering you on a piece of paper and throw it away, is it possible the pain will be gone? Let’s face the fact that there are only so many days in a year and so many hours in a day. If you count up the number of actual [ Read more… ]

Call me Ishmael

From our daily member newsletter on August 10, 2016

Thus begins Moby Dick. Of course, I am more likely to say: “You can call me anything you like as long as it’s not late for dinner.” I have always believed that what YOU call yourself and what you want others to call you is one of the most important pieces of information you can know about someone. This is why we have a “Greeting to use” box in our membership directory. When my son Michael was growing up we mostly called him Mike. The reason was that this is what he put on all of his papers at school. Only later did we learn that he preferred Michael and only used Mike because it took less time to write. [ Read more… ]

How are you doing?

From our daily member newsletter on August 9, 2016

One of the hardest things to do during a job search or even during a difficult time at work is keeping yourself energized and positive. Here again is another example of how our basic honesty as financial folks gets in the way of our success. If you ask a financial guy how he is doing, you typically will get an honest (and very long) answer. It is just in the nature of who we are that the structure of most of our answers follows that “primarily due to, partially offset by” approach to life that is just who we are. I think what we don’t consider as frequently as we should is the impact this analytical approach to life has [ Read more… ]

Do you have enough friends?

From our daily member newsletter on August 8, 2016

If there is anything those of you who have ever been engaged in a job search have learned is that NO ONE ever has enough friends. Although I count all 50,000+ of you as friends of mine, I still continue every day to try to make a few new friends. It is almost sad in a way that networking became so closely identified with job search. Except for the NFL approach to networking (that’s where you hold someone down and don’t let them up until they give you 3 names) networking is about creating real friendships. And, real friendships are a two way street. I hate one way dead ends streets, don’t you? That’s when you make networking all about [ Read more… ]

Passive job searching

From our daily member newsletter on August 7, 2016

I know it may sound strange coming from someone publishing hundreds of pages of job leads a month, but job leads are overrated. If you are over the age of 40 and all you are doing is answering job leads in our newsletter or from any of the well respected jobs sites, you may as well be writing to yourself for all the good you are doing. Yes, I know you can proudly tell those who ask that you answered 20 ads today, but for the most part, you are competing with the entire world. Sure you could do the job, and my belief is you could do it well, but clients want what clients want and search firms have [ Read more… ]

Handling negotiations

From our daily member newsletter on August 4, 2016

There is nothing harder than handling a negotiation that involves your own personal finances. We have all been through tough negotiations that stood to benefit the firms for which we have worked, but nothing can create more stress than when the negotiations involve our own salary or severance. Whether it is a salary negotiation or a severance negotiation, it is times like this that it just makes good sense to turn to your close friends for counsel. The purpose of this counsel, however, is not what to do, but rather to help you sort out the issues. The transactional process that is involved in a negotiation is easily sorted out if you can be objective, but when it is your [ Read more… ]

Unasked questions

From our daily member newsletter on August 3, 2016

People rarely ask or even want to know why the sky is blue or why the sun comes up in the East and not the West. And, when you are sitting in an interview, these are not questions you need to have answers for. The difficult thing to determine when the rubber finally meets the road is what nagging and potentially terminal (at least to your candidacy) unasked questions exist in the mind of the interviewer. We usually find out that there were such questions when we get the call telling us the job went to someone else, or that they are going to keep looking. Unfortunately, the reasons we get as to why they passed on our obvious qualifications [ Read more… ]

Have I reached the party to whom I’m speaking?

From our daily member newsletter on August 2, 2016

Many years ago Lily Tomlin had a skit on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In where she played Ernestine, the telephone operator. This was one of her great gag lines. In much the same way, those of us who make a lot of phone calls are in the same pickle. I’m not sure if people just never call their phones or if privacy considerations are what have caused the problem, but a very large number of folks don’t seem to have their voice mail properly set up. The voice message I get sometimes very helpfully tells me the number I called. Being an accountant, punching numbers into the phone pad isn’t all that much different than a calculator, and I rarely [ Read more… ]

The responsibilities of sponsors

From our daily member newsletter on August 1, 2016

As I hope all of you know, The FENG is not a fee for service. Our most important “folkway” is that in order to be accepted as a new member, you either need to have a sponsor, or you need to find one. As Chairman since 1996, I take the time each and every week to review new member applicants, and I don’t accept everyone. Clearly you have to be a Chief Financial Officer, Controller, Treasurer or one of many other titles that mark you as a senior level financial officer. That said you don’t have to have a sponsor at the time you apply. No one who is qualified is ever turned away. If you qualify for membership, one [ Read more… ]

The futility of planning

From our daily member newsletter on July 31, 2016

Over the past few months I have completed several projects on or for my sailboat. My father was a plumbing and general contractor, and having worked for him from the time I was 13 until I graduated from college, I am pretty handy with tools. I also had a lot of very old cars, and not being independently wealthy at the time, I learned how to fix them myself. I find that now the scarce commodity in my life is time. As a result, many of the projects I decide to do have long planning cycles. Sometimes I draw myself sketches of what I want to do. Nothing too elaborate you understand, but enough so that I have a pretty [ Read more… ]

Kidnap notes

From our daily member newsletter on July 28, 2016

Sad to say, the typical email cover notes I see bear a strong resemblance to classic kidnap notes. You know the ones I mean. Randomly selected letters and words cut from magazines and newspapers and pasted together on a piece of paper to communicate a demand for money. Perhaps this is a little harsh, and I apologize in advance, but my son sent me a funny saying recently: “Any fool can use a computer. Many do.” Yes, that TV looking screen in front of you with the typewriter keyboard is a COMPUTER, and you would be best advised to figure out how to use it. It honestly isn’t that hard. The “troubles” probably began quite some time ago when Microsoft [ Read more… ]

Taking in each other’s laundry

From our daily member newsletter on July 27, 2016

Networking is what The FENG is all about. And, it has a lot of not so obvious twists and turns, one of which I am going to go over tonight. I hope all of you are becoming pros at using our Member Directory Search feature and calling up other members. I hope that those members you are contacting are going out of their way to introduce you to individuals that they know, because it is one of those things that really works. One of the aspects of introducing your friends in The FENG to individuals you know is that it is beneficial to you as well. Your friends want to do favors for you, and actually it is easier for [ Read more… ]

A variation in quality

From our daily member newsletter on July 26, 2016

I have always had a keen interest in how people used the information I sent them. My approach to finding out was to sit with my boss as he went through my written and financial reports and watch him as he worked through them. I used his points of interest or disinterest to modify my presentations of information. In much the same way I examine, study and think about my approach to reviewing candidates for assignments being handled by The FECG. Of course, all the candidates I hear from are members of The FENG, so in a very real sense I have a little window on the world as to the “product” presented by my many friends to the outside [ Read more… ]

Allowing others to wear us down

From our daily member newsletter on July 25, 2016

I had lunch a long time ago with one of our members. I always enjoy meeting and talking to the members of our august body because I am reminded of issues that I have discussed before that bear repeating. And, when I discuss them again, it is usually with a different twist because I continue to learn. The subject for tonight is how we allow others to wear us down. The way this usually happens is we set up a lot of networking calls with friends and recruiters who really can’t help us. We all believe that the first thing we should do when we are out of work is networking, and I encourage everyone to network as much as [ Read more… ]

You can’t direct the wind

From our daily member newsletter on July 24, 2016

I have given much thought over the years to how sailing is a lot like life. In dreamy meditation at the wheel of our sailboat, I have often thought about the unseen and uncontrollable forces affecting our progress and how through the skills I have acquired at her helm I have been able to make her go where I wanted her to go. A long time ago my wife sent me some quotes from a lecture she attended and I thought I would expand on some of those ideas for tonight’s editorial. Here are the quotes: “You can’t direct the wind, but you can adjust your sails.” “Life is a voyage in which we choose neither vessel nor weather, but [ Read more… ]

No one has enough friends

From our daily member newsletter on July 21, 2016

For those of you who are new to the networking process or who claim to not be very good at it, please know that even I am still learning. Friends are always in short supply, especially when it comes to managing your career. But, unlike all the consumer goods available just by taking out your credit card or writing out a check, you have to pay for friendship by giving of yourself. It is often a more costly process than most people imagine, but one well worth the expense. All I can do in tonight’s editorial is to share what I believe are a few truths about the process. Let me start with the care and feeding of old friends. [ Read more… ]

A compelling summary

From our daily member newsletter on July 20, 2016

There is no more important space on your resume than that first section after your name. Alas, I rarely see it used to good effect. Although cover letters allow you to “cover” matters perhaps not easily “covered” in your resume, more often than not your cover letter isn’t sent to the decision maker. In a very real sense, your resume stands alone and needs to be done in such a way that it gets the job done. If you agree that you never get a second chance to make a good first impression, that first section sets the stage for what follows. By taking the time to really focus on your value added, the summary section can allow you to [ Read more… ]

A point of reference

From our daily member newsletter on July 19, 2016

With the job market weak, when you actually get into the finals for a significant “work opportunity,” you don’t want to muff it. (Just so you know, work opportunities used to be called jobs, but that implies they will last a long time, and we know they don’t.) Anyway, one of the rituals or hoops that many firms make you jump through is providing references. A delicate topic considering that you might be currently working or you might have left the firm where you got your most significant work experiences quite some time ago. Selecting references can be easy if you have kept in touch with old bosses and co-workers, but the place where most folks miss the boat is [ Read more… ]

A sharp focus

From our daily member newsletter on July 18, 2016

A jack of all trades, a master of none. In the world of CFO’s, Controllers and Treasurers, the primary skill sets of members of The FENG, it is certainly true that we can probably do anything. Still, at this stage of our careers the likelihood of anyone considering us to do “anything” is remote at best. The world seeks experts. And, in your own way each of you is an expert at something. The statement “I am just like everyone else” is rarely true. As I talk to members about their careers, with careful questioning I can get them to tell me their industry and skill set. Sad to say, it is usually more like pulling teeth than an easy [ Read more… ]

Creating actionable communications

From our daily member newsletter on July 17, 2016

As you all can probably imagine, I get a lot of email and phone calls every day. A previous editorial of mine titled “Say what?” focused on the content of your message. Tonight’s editorial is a little more on the mechanical side and touches on providing sufficient information to the person on the receiving end to enable them to take appropriate action. I know everyone is probably getting a headache from my mentioning outgoing signatures one more time, but until I see them on 80% of the messages I get on a daily basis, instead of the 20% I would venture to say is my normal average, I will continue to beat the drum on this important feature of your [ Read more… ]

The curse of the cover letter

From our daily member newsletter on July 14, 2016

To tell you the truth, I almost never read cover letters first. Perhaps you remember the joke about the doctor who told his patient to take a warm bath and 4 aspirin. When he called the next day, the patient informed him that he could barely get the warm bath down. It is much the same case with cover letters. I only hope and pray I can get through all the resumes I have to review on any given day. Still, you have to write a cover letter. The best advice I can offer is to be brief, interesting, informative and not make it a regurgitation of your resume. Truth be told, I only read cover letters when I have [ Read more… ]

Maybe they won’t ask

From our daily member newsletter on July 13, 2016

I know it is hard to believe, but some of us good natured and hard working financial folks actually leave companies under conditions that leave us with the possibility of less than glowing references. Perhaps we were misunderstood, or in some cases, we just got a new boss. It is also possible we actually failed for some reason. In any case, here we are in the enviable position of being offered another job. What are we to do if they want to contact our former employer? To hope and pray that they won’t ask is to be more than a little naive. It is a perfectly logical question on the part of a potential employer and one you must be [ Read more… ]

The sounds of silence

From our daily member newsletter on July 12, 2016

There was an article in the New York Times several years ago about how employers and recruiters no longer seem to get back to job seekers, even when they have been serious candidates for particular opportunities. As easy as it is to click reply when you first send in your credentials, the follow up process is a lot more complex. Everyone should recognize the incredible volumes that those on the receiving end are experiencing. And, clients seem to take forever to review candidates and coordinate interviews for those they have selected. “The great lament” could go on forever. I am sure that each of you has your own special story. However, the explanations as to why this is the case [ Read more… ]

Your many hidden talents

From our daily member newsletter on July 11, 2016

The subject of tonight’s editorial is “Your many hidden talents and the ones you are developing.” I talked to one of our active members recently and the thought occurred to me that all of you are probably developing skills and not even aware of it! Life does have a way of sneaking up on you. The subject was nominally being able to sell. Most of us went into finance never expecting to engage in the honored profession of personal selling, but all of us who have gone through a job search, perhaps unbeknownst to even ourselves, have become reasonably good at personal selling. If you think about it, everything about searching for a job develops the skills required in personal [ Read more… ]

Projecting a winning image

From our daily member newsletter on July 10, 2016

If there is anything that typically jumps out at me when we have our meetings here in Connecticut it is the need for us financial folks to be completely honest, even in our assessments of ourselves. When our senior members provide their job hunting tips they usually end them with “but of course I’m still here.” (As if we didn’t notice.) However, interviews and 90 second announcements are no time for an extensive evaluation of why you lost your last job. For the most part in our fast changing world, there may not even be a need to explain it at all, let alone in depth. What everyone is interested in hearing is why they should be talking to you. [ Read more… ]

A time of renewal

From our daily member newsletter on July 7, 2016

Although everyone thinks that spring is a time of renewal, actually (just like networking) any point in time and any excuse will do. For those of us who are in their 40’s and 50’s, periods of unemployment early in our career have probably been non-existent. The experience of being unemployed can be stressful unless you use the time to good advantage. One way of doing this is to, in part, create a new you. I’m not talking about plastic surgery, but there are always things you can do that will make you into a “new” person. After you have gone through the initial steps of preparing your job campaign and networking with everyone you can think of, it may be [ Read more… ]

Qualified members only

From our daily member newsletter on July 6, 2016

What is a qualified member? With so many members out of work these days, and search firms with assignments in short supply, I thought I would take the time tonight to restate our approach to leads posted in our newsletter. Those leads which include “please use my name in contacting” and generally speaking leads for positions being handled by retainer based search firms, are not for distribution outside of our network. Recruiters are always afraid they will lose control of a search by having it broadcast too widely. Confidentiality and professionalism is vital on our part to keep recruiters as allies in our respective searches. Each member is asked to abide by these guidelines. With regard to “please use my [ Read more… ]

Talking on the phone

From our daily member newsletter on July 5, 2016

In speaking with members of The FENG over the years, it is clear that everyone would enjoy hearing a few words of wisdom on making phone calls. Of course, everyone knows how to push the buttons on the phone, but apparently not everyone is having as much fun doing it as they should. Over the years I have developed a telephone style that works for me. But regardless of your personal style, I think I can provide you with a few principles that will ring true for you as well. The first principle is knowing something about who you are calling and the second is having that person knowing why you are calling. Knowledge on both sides is helpful. For [ Read more… ]

Variations on a theme

From our daily member newsletter on June 29, 2016

For those of you who used to watch Sesame Street back in the 70’s, there was a great skit where one of the Muppets wanted a piece of pie and a glass of milk. Although there was no pie, the Muppet in need of that particular food item kept trying different variations such as a glass of water and a piece of pie, or a cup of coffee and a piece of pie, etc. Basically, nothing he tried got him a piece of pie. As is always the case, many members and many folks who advise members on the structure of their resumes are trying as many variations as the Muppets on what is by its nature a tried and [ Read more… ]

Selling The FENG

From our daily member newsletter on June 28, 2016

I need everyone’s help. No, The FENG isn’t for sale in the retailing sense. That said, it is vitally important that each us every day and in every way, make the “outside world” aware of our unique organization. I have on several occasions since the beginning of the year done a promotion to the search community. We have approximately 4,400+ registered Friends of The FENG. I always get back nice notes when I do these promotions and usually for a few weeks we see an increase in postings in our newsletter. Still, it is not enough. If you are being considered for a job through a search firm, I would ask you to direct them to our website and have [ Read more… ]

Losing a few pounds

From our daily member newsletter on June 27, 2016

I don’t know about you, but I have always wished I were a few pounds lighter. That said, no one should suggest to me that this is the reason I can’t find a job. (As long as my clothes fit.) Gray hair shouldn’t be on their list. Nor should someone suggest surgery to look better. (This one is particularly outrageous!) Additional bad advice is eliminating all references to any job you had over 15 years ago or removing your dates of graduation from college. I always pray that all of the above will be relegated to urban legend, but I continue to be proven wrong. Who are these people that dare to dish out such outrageous trash? Friends, as my [ Read more… ]

It must make sense (to them)

From our daily member newsletter on June 26, 2016

When I was in my mid 30’s, I had the great honor of being treasurer of my congregation, a job I held for 4 full years. It is probably true that I lean towards all-consuming jobs. Or, perhaps I just try to do a good job even when I am not getting paid. Nonetheless, I discovered a lot about human nature performing this often times thankless task. The congregation had a very long list of “members” who were behind in their payments. So, I set about to call all of them. Sure, I tried writing to them, but I found that the only way I got any kind of response was by picking up the phone. Most folks were very [ Read more… ]

The beginning of the rainbow

From our daily member newsletter on June 23, 2016

I know there are still a few unbelievers out there. Yes, they walk among us. Believe it or not, networking is the ticket. If you are waiting to be called and invited to the dance, think again. It isn’t going to happen. Let me suggest to you that The FENG membership database is the pot of gold at the beginning of the rainbow. I am fully aware of the fact that everyone else in the world is looking for the pot of gold at the END of the rainbow, but the networking contacts you can make through a series of searches of our database are only a beginning, and not an end in and of themselves. Our membership directory contains [ Read more… ]

The Superman syndrome

From our daily member newsletter on June 21, 2016

It has been my observation for many years that most of our members who are in their 40’s and 50’s move from large corporations to middle market ones. The reason, as I have often pointed out is that large corporations don’t hire senior executives except rarely. For good and valid reasons, they prefer to grow their own. As our members assume senior level roles at these middle market firms, their systems undergo a shock of sorts. First, the only reason middle market firms hire senior financial executives is that they have a lot of problems. They want to learn from you, which means your peers in senior management are always in your office seeking your advice. This is a good [ Read more… ]

Playing to an empty house

From our daily member newsletter on June 20, 2016

I have often wondered how actors polish their performances before the first show. With only the director and the producer in the audience it just can’t be the same. Sure you are up there on stage and perhaps even in full costume, but there is no audience clapping or talking to each other to let you know how your delivery is going. Once you have a full audience, tuning up your performance has got to be a lot easier. Changes in gestures at key moments, raising your voice, lowering your voice, all seem to get a reaction. When I am speaking to chapter meetings I sort of experience the same thing. I may have thought through what I am going [ Read more… ]

Why we share job leads

From our daily member newsletter on June 19, 2016

One of the core values of being a member of The FENG is that we share job leads. There are a lot of reasons why we do this, and it isn’t just because it is a nice thing to do. It is actually a very smart thing to do. The only problem is that it is apparently a counter-intuitive idea. So, forgive me if I am going over old ground because you are one of those members who “gets it.” Let me start you off with the idea that it is impossible to keep a secret these days about any job out in the market. If you still believe in the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus, I suppose I will [ Read more… ]

Those lazy hazy days of summer

From our daily member newsletter on June 16, 2016

As a season, summer is sure hard to beat. The days are warmer here in the Northeast. The days are also longer. No more getting up when it is pitch black and coming home when it is pitch black. (Winter is so depressing!) And, outdoor activities like sailing, tennis, and golf sure can’t be beat. The only problem with summer is the perceptual one that job search is more difficult during the summer because so many folks are on vacation. Friends, a little bit of urban legend is at work here. Unless you are planning to wait until after Labor Day to work on your networking activities, I think you are just going to have to accept the simple truth [ Read more… ]

Say what?

From our daily member newsletter on June 15, 2016

I used to be very good at multi-tasking. Now that I have gotten older, I am not as good at it. I have a lot to do every day, so when someone writes or calls I find it very helpful if they take a moment at the beginning of their communication to give me some hint how I might be most helpful to them. If I have some sense of where we are going, I am more likely to know what to listen for. I suppose it is a simple communication strategy, but it is one that is often forgotten in the normal course of human events. You see it all around you. Take resumes for example. In a normal [ Read more… ]

Stress reduction in networking

From our daily member newsletter on June 14, 2016

I suppose it is hard to believe, but those on the receiving of networking calls actually experience more stress than you do. Yes, I know that picking up that 400 pound phone isn’t easy, but neither is responding to phone calls from those who have been trained in the NFL approach to networking. (That’s where they tackle you and won’t let you up until you give them 3 names.) Is it any wonder that your phone call or visit can strike fear in their hearts? The stress comes from the fear of disappointing you and/or disappointing the friend who sent you their way by appearing not to be able to help you. If you want the process to work as [ Read more… ]

I’m smiling on the inside

From our daily member newsletter on June 13, 2016

I’m sure all of you have been to weddings and other kinds of gatherings where the host for the event has the need to say a few words. Not being great public speakers, these opportunities can be very painful or at times very funny, even when the host doesn’t intend for them to be. One of my friends was giving his obligatory welcome to his guests and something he said struck me, not as painful or funny, but as very revealing to his personality. What he said was that those of you who know me know that I am smiling on the inside. Not unlike many of the accountants and other financial folks I have known over the years, his [ Read more… ]

Can you spel?

From our daily member newsletter on June 12, 2016

Some of the notes that I get from our many learned members fill me with dismay. I often wonder, do they send notes with spelling and grammatical errors just to me, or do they provide this special service to everyone in the world? I do get a chuckle over some of them, but by and large I get concerned that the bad habits inherent in not checking their work creep over into all of the correspondence that they turn out. Some of it might even be for jobs they would give their right arms to have. It is all very easy to think that when you are writing to friends you don’t need to be “on your game.” I respectfully [ Read more… ]

Their lips are moving, but there is no information

From our daily member newsletter on June 9, 2016

There was an article in The Wall Street Journal in 2013 titled: “Didn’t Get the Job? You’ll Never Know Why” by Lauren Weber. The direct link is: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324423904578523683173841190.html and it is still available. I hope that all of you will take the time to read it. I have often said that when the answer is no, the likelihood of there being any useful information passed to you is close to zero. Lauren goes into almost all of the issues that I have discussed in editorials over the years, and I thought you would enjoy knowing that these are “truths” and not just “one man’s opinion.” Although Lauren covered the issues very well, I thought I would add an insidious aspect [ Read more… ]

The blur of 100 resumes

From our daily member newsletter on June 8, 2016

I have always had great interest in how others do their work, and more importantly how others utilized my work product. To deliver a report in person and actually observe it being used I always found to be a real learning experience. I think you will agree that most financial reports are hard to read. So many columns of small type with typically additional columns of percentages out to spurious accuracy — it is no wonder that most folks think we are nuts or worse, not good at the art of communication. If I assigned point values for readability, not many resumes I see would get a passing grade. At times it would seem that the sender is challenging me [ Read more… ]

A few counter-intuitive thoughts

From our daily member newsletter on June 7, 2016

Sharing job leads is only one of many counter-intuitive ideas that those of us who have been involved in The FENG for a period of time simply accept as the truth. As I often say, some of the ideas we have developed in The FENG take a little living with before you come to understand how they can work for you. A second area I would present for your consideration is the idea of asking for and accepting help. As you know, “guys don’t ask for directions at the gas station.” And, since most of our members are guys, this is one of the things I push from time to time in the evening editorial. Networking is frequently viewed as [ Read more… ]

Making the most of middle age

From our daily member newsletter on June 6, 2016

Looking back on my visualization of middle age when I was in my youth, I must confess the picture currently is a lot different. At the ripe old age of 69, I thought I would share a few thoughts tonight in the hopes that others would be willing to share theirs. Any editorial/notes from members contributions should be sent to Leads@TheFENG.org. Please be sure to properly label your opus – Middle Age. And, don’t send it to me. I currently have more than enough emails in my inbox that I am trying to clear. I graduated from college in 1968, went to graduate school because I was 1-A and finally got drafted in April, 1969. After two years in the [ Read more… ]

Creating a competitive advantage

From our daily member newsletter on June 5, 2016

With the number of folks competing for every available job these days, it is easy to fall into the trap of trying to “cheat” in some way to create a competitive advantage for yourself. The sad truth is that most of the approaches I see on a daily basis do exactly the opposite. The traditional resume format has your name, address, phone numbers and email address at the top. The end of the resume has your education. A summary is always nice to have at the top, just don’t use any trite phrases like “bottom line oriented,” “team player,” etc. The firms that have enjoyed the pleasure of your services should be listed in reverse chronological order with year ranges. [ Read more… ]

The job market is broken on both sides

From our daily member newsletter on June 2, 2016

Several years ago, I was forwarded two articles written by Thomas L. Friedman of The New York Times on different topics, but with a consistent theme. The big idea is that employers don’t care what you know anymore, they only care what you can do with what you know. For example, most “facts” can now be looked up on Google. What employers really want to know is just one thing: Can you add value? This issue with Google has actually been true for quite some time. In running The FENG and dealing with our many technical problems (I am only a simple accountant), I have frequently called into support phone numbers and been amused to discover that the technician I [ Read more… ]

Setting up barriers

From our daily member newsletter on June 1, 2016

As a breed, us financial types are such a precise group of individuals. It is at once our greatest strength from a work prospective, and in the context of job search, one of our greatest failings. The fear, as I understand it, is that we might be offered some opportunity that is somehow outside of our parameters. By our nature we tend to view the world in a very detailed and narrow manner. Were this not the case, we would not be capable of spending hours looking for that penny by which our accounts are out of balance. (After all, it could be a $1,000,000 one way and $999,999.99 the other way! You just don’t know.) Let’s understand that most [ Read more… ]

Changing industries

From our daily member newsletter on May 31, 2016

More often than not, members of our networking group prefer to change industries when they change jobs. I have to agree that changing industries isn’t such a bad idea. In fact, the opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills we have learned to a totally new situation is an attractive concept. The truth unfortunately is often a little harsher. Our maximum value to any new employer is our knowledge and skills, and often times our perceived value is higher if we aren’t making any significant change. As counter intuitive as it may sound, the best approach to changing industries is talking to folks from your industry, especially those who are no longer there. The question to be answered is how [ Read more… ]

Paint on a smile

From our daily member newsletter on May 26, 2016

With the upcoming Memorial Day holiday weekend, a great opportunity will be presenting itself to you in the form of gatherings of those who know you (and presumably love you). In order to enjoy the greatest benefit, you need to paint on a smile. I don’t care if you have been out of work 3 or more years or if you are losing your job in June, being down in the dumps or coming off as a “sad sack” won’t help your cause. In the opening scene in Patton, you may recall that George C. Scott explained why America wasn’t going to lose the war. Very briefly, Americans love a winner and won’t tolerate a loser. No matter what the [ Read more… ]

Your real audience

From our daily member newsletter on May 25, 2016

One of my favorite “sayings from the Chairman” is: I try to make things so easy that anyone can do it. That way if I try hard, I can too! KISS or “keep it simple stupid” is one of the most often violated principles of job search and part of the reason that we fail to communicate our true value. Yes, I know that many of us have arcane skills. But, you need to keep in mind that the burden of communication is on you. How often have I heard “but it was all right there in my resume.” Oh, if that simple statement were REALLY true. Sure, it was there all right, but it was buried in a less [ Read more… ]

Sharing job leads – a core value

From our daily member newsletter on May 24, 2016

I was in Chicago last Thursday and had the great pleasure of having breakfast with Brad Hughes, one of our “Founding Great Grandfathers.” According to legend (and I can say that since The FENG is over 25 years old), Brad was one of the very few folks who ALWAYS brought job leads to pass around at our meeting at the Westport library. We were a grand total of about 15 people on a good day back then, but everyone followed Brad’s fine example and made an effort to find and share job leads. Again, according to legend, there was one job at a leather goods manufacturer that ALL of us interviewed for and there were several others that at least [ Read more… ]

Getting value from chapter meetings

From our daily member newsletter on May 23, 2016

As I am sure you know, Doug Fine, Bruce Lynn and I run a chapter meeting here in Connecticut every month. I am always a little disappointed at the number of people who aren’t properly prepared. I am not criticizing the quality of 90-second announcements or the improvements that might be needed to the resumes I see. Rather, I am commenting on the number of folks who don’t come with the basic tools to be successful at our very important “meet and greets.” First and most important, bring enough copies of your resume for EVERYONE attending. In most cases, this means about 15-25 copies. If your chapter get together is larger, bring more. Yes, I know you might have to [ Read more… ]

A curious requirement

From our daily member newsletter on May 22, 2016

We don’t get as many members applying without sponsors as we used to, but we still get a few. For those who are qualified for membership, each Monday morning after I have finished my new member review for the weekend and sent out our new member announcement, Judith Rudikoff, one of our Administrative Assistants, sends them each a note inviting them to pick up that 400 pound phone and call her. Sad to say, not all of them do. The idea behind having a sponsor is that we are NOT a job listing service. Sure, we publish about 1,000 pages of job leads a month, but I hope no one confuses that with our true mission of being a networking [ Read more… ]

The sploosh syndrome

From our daily member newsletter on May 19, 2016

Here in Connecticut spring has arrived and with it the beginning of the boating season. We are looking forward to taking our boat out for the first time in the next week or so! Great fun. Anyway, as I begin each season, I sit myself down and remind myself of the ease with which tools are lost over the side. As you settle into outfitting the boat for the season, bringing down the gear and reinstalling things, it is easy to forget. The motion of the boat is a little unfamiliar and there is a lot of confusion. It is also usually still a little cold and often very windy. Being out on the water is an experience that is [ Read more… ]

A reliable used car

From our daily member newsletter on May 18, 2016

Let’s face it, those who “move the iron” — even the new stuff, have a difficult job. But those who sell used cars have it the worst. The phrase “like a used car salesman” is very much part of the American lexicon. It implies the worst of the sales profession. No matter what vehicle you purchase, at the end of the day you feel as if you have been taken advantaged of. Not quite as true with new cars. First, there is that new car smell. You sure can’t beat it. Then you have the fact that if you really want to, you can order the car from the factory with exactly the features you want. Basically you pick out [ Read more… ]

Reading your own resume

From our daily member newsletter on May 17, 2016

It is always a good idea to read your own resume. Sadly, I find that many people don’t. The typographical errors are bad enough. For example, in a recent batch I reviewed for one of our assignments for The FECG, one member even had an obvious error in how he spelled his own name. (Yes, you can’t make this stuff up.) More subtle perhaps are the kinds of things that just make you look plain silly. Starting right at the top, let’s talk about the summary that many of you rightly include as part of your opus. Like a good 90 second announcement, this part of your resume can do you a lot of good or a lot of damage. [ Read more… ]

Operators are standing by

From our daily member newsletter on May 16, 2016

A few years ago, I got a lovely note from one of our alumni members lamenting the fact that he rarely gets any phone calls from his fellow members requesting networking assistance. Even though he was feeling unloved, he asked me not to mention his name for fear that all of you would call him to make him feel better. In his note, he assured me that although he rarely gets phone calls from his fellow members, when he does, he drops whatever he is doing and gives the individual who is calling his full time and attention for as long as that person needs it. Hey, if he has to work late to make up the time, he was [ Read more… ]

How does it work in theory?

From our daily member newsletter on May 15, 2016

Many years ago when I was in college, I had an economics professor who was a bit of a character. For a dry subject area, he had a way of making it all come alive. One of the things he said has lived with me these many years. It was: That’s all very well in practice, but how does it work in theory? In the context of job search, whether we are talking about resumes or most 90-second announcements, what I hear or get out of these gems is the practice part. Most of the information being transmitted is of a practice nature. I was here, I worked there, I did this, etc., etc. All very dry. All very boring. [ Read more… ]

On becoming obsolete

From our daily member newsletter on May 12, 2016

It is a sad state of affairs when your presumed skills become obsolete, but like the buggy whip manufacturer of old, your only choice unless you want to become extinct is to adapt. Let’s see, buggy whips are made out of leather, so a good first step would be to define yourself as a leather goods manufacturer. Of course, they didn’t have the Internet back in those days, but my bet is that many of the buggy whip manufacturers knew each other. And, if they didn’t know each other, they probably knew who their competition was and as demand fell, they took note of what steps others were taking to adapt their operations. The carriage makers didn’t have such a [ Read more… ]

Help me out – buy a ticket

From our daily member newsletter on May 11, 2016

I have had several phone calls over the past few weeks from members seeking advice about what to do about their job search. It is a good question and one not easily answered even if I know you very well. In the course of a conversation (speech is the slowest form of communication), I don’t know how much valuable advice I can transmit. Still, I am always delighted to hear from our members and it gives me an opportunity to better understand the “skills voids” I need to work on in our evening editorial. There is a long joke I have told before about this guy who wants to win the lottery. Every day he prays to the big guy [ Read more… ]

The gift of friendship

From our daily member newsletter on May 10, 2016

As all of you know, The FENG is a circle of friends, not a fee for service. In order to join, someone needs to sponsor you. That act of friendship is how everyone gets started. It is one of those dumb things I came up with at the beginning of time itself that I believe has made our network significantly different from every other professional organization. Of course, every week there are folks who want to join who don’t have a sponsor. When this is the case, we help them find one. It is kind of a Godfather thing: unless you are willing to put yourself in the debt of another person, you’re not going to be very successful at [ Read more… ]

Telephone sales

From our daily member newsletter on May 9, 2016

If getting up in front of a large group and doing your elevator pitch isn’t bad enough, giving it over the phone is worse. At least in front of a group, large or small, you have some visual feedback as to whether or not it is going over well. Add to this that many folks call you from cell phones with “CB radio” quality connections (i.e. you can’t talk unless they stop), and you have a communication challenge of the first order. There are several suggestions I have heard over the years and some that I use that I will share with you tonight. The first thing to keep in mind is that you never know when an important call [ Read more… ]

A “no wind” situation

From our daily member newsletter on May 8, 2016

As all of you know, one of my passions in this world is sailing. I not only own a sailboat, but I also do a lot of reading about sailing. From time to time I read historical novels about the world of sailors in centuries past. The interesting thing is that many of the issues and concerns of sailors haven’t changed a whole lot. One of the concepts applicable to job search is the problems associated with being becalmed. (This is sometimes referred to as a “no wind” situation.) When the wind is blowing strongly there is always so much you can do. You are moving. You may be scared out of your mind surfing down the face of a [ Read more… ]

What are your sizzle points?

From our daily member newsletter on May 5, 2016

Very few among us are professional sales folks. It is for this reason that some of the more subtle elements of interviewing can easily go by us. When you decide to make a purchase you often have to justify it to others. When you do, you will find yourself repeating things the salesperson told you about the product. Much as you may cringe at the thought that you need to have a slogan or theme song, you almost do. The question I would have for you is how can you make yourself memorable? How can you communicate what we could call your sizzle points? In all of the interviewing that you do, except your interview with the final and ultimate [ Read more… ]

When is enough, enough?

From our daily member newsletter on May 3, 2016

The story goes that if a frog is thrown into a pot of boiling water he will have the good sense to jump out. On the other hand, if you put a frog in cold water and slowly turn up the heat, he will boil to death. (Please don’t try this at home. I like frogs. I am sure you can verify the veracity of this proposition on the Internet somewhere.) There are similar effects in the world for things like allergies. You can tolerate many things to which you are theoretically allergic, however, once you hit some predetermined level, you begin sneezing and your tolerance for whatever you are allergic to is temporarily greatly lowered and you will begin [ Read more… ]

One step at a time

From our daily member newsletter on May 2, 2016

Taking life one step at a time is never easy. There is something about tasks undone that are just plain hard to take. Still, eating an elephant is best done one bite at a time. For those embarking on a job search, the number of things that need to be done can seem daunting. There are resumes to be written, networking lists to be developed, and knowledge to be acquired. Unfortunately there is no one best way to get started. A lot depends on your current state and what “improvements” you need to make to ensure your campaign is successful. I am a big fan of starting in the middle and working your way out to the sides. If you [ Read more… ]

Are you selling the right stuff?

From our daily member newsletter on May 1, 2016

I don’t know how many of you are aware of it, but The FENG began its life as an organization of VERY senior financial professionals. In the beginning our original core group was over 50 and a few of those folks were even older. The idea was that senior financial professionals needed more help in finding a new job than those in their 30’s. Unfortunately, this is still true. Call it age discrimination, over qualified, or any of the other direct names you want, the effect is the same. Not even some of the softer words help. The simple fact is that a senior financial professional is going to have a harder time of it than someone more junior. There [ Read more… ]

The quest for personal relationships

From our daily member newsletter on April 28, 2016

Over the many years that folks moved off the farm and the security of their local communities to the “big city,” a rather significant shift took place in American society. Please understand that I am an accountant by trade and not an historian, but I believe that 90% of all Americans lived on farms at the beginning of the last century and now only about 5% do. As the automobile put Americans on the road and many of us moved to new places (I’m originally from Chicago, but lived in Indiana for many years before moving to Connecticut), the powerful sense of community that is so important to us as human beings was severely impacted. I suppose it didn’t disappear [ Read more… ]

The Energizer bunny

From our daily member newsletter on April 27, 2016

Probably one of the hardest things to do during a job search is keeping yourself energized. If you are conducting your job search from home, it can be even more difficult. The thing to recognize is that conducting a job search is in some respects painful for us financial types. We don’t get to do spreadsheets (which we adore), and all we get to do is write letters and make phone calls. Sure, making phone calls to collect past due invoices is a lot of fun. But, making networking phone calls, now that’s painful. So, faced with not needing to sharpen our #2 pencils, it can be difficult to get going in the morning. After all, what is there to [ Read more… ]

Arrested but not convicted

From our daily member newsletter on April 26, 2016

We have had speakers at over the years at our meetings here in Connecticut and each in their own way has brought up the subject of having an explanation as to why you are looking for another job. I have always felt that it was a waste of your valuable time to provide an explanation in your 90 second announcement, and I still feel that way. Unless you were arrested and convicted of a crime, or fired for cause, I probably will not find any useful information in your explanation. And, if that was why you are now looking for another job, you probably won’t tell me. What I really need to know is the nature of your credentials and [ Read more… ]

Changing strongly held beliefs

From our daily member newsletter on April 25, 2016

As they say, old habits die hard. Because we believe they work, we do the same things over and over again that we have learned over the course of our careers. Not to say we can’t be retrained, but it is hard. Us financial types find it particularly hard. Part of the reason is that we generally have come to our decisions and ways of thinking the hard way — through detailed analysis. Why use one spreadsheet when several will do? The most difficult belief I encounter requiring change is the nature of the next job that most folks are seeking. If ONLY there were really a job out there to take you through to retirement. No matter how much [ Read more… ]

The hidden job market

From our daily member newsletter on April 24, 2016

Much has been written over the years about the hidden job market. That said, it may not be clear to all of you how to go about finding these opportunities. After all, if they are hidden, how do you come to know about them? The public job market is reflected by job postings of all kinds. As a member of The FENG you get a truck load of them every week. The problem is that, regardless of the source – job boards or personal relationships, EVERYONE knows about these jobs in short order. The hidden job market is one that doesn’t formally exist. When members find jobs this way, they are always surprised or shocked. But, like most things, it [ Read more… ]

The world is a finite place

From our daily member newsletter on April 21, 2016

When you are out in the middle of the ocean, it is easy to think of the world as being endless. Every direction you look there is only water. (And yes, water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink.) However, the truth is that although over 70% of the earth’s surface is salt water, 30% of the earth’s surface is land. In addition, there are parts of the ocean that are shallow. My point is that things are not always what they seem to be. And, if you allow yourself to think of things as having infinite possibilities, it can hamper your thinking. In truth, the world is a finite place. To give you some examples, there are only [ Read more… ]

Search firm rules of engagement

From our daily member newsletter on April 20, 2016

I got a note a few years ago from one of our members asking how to manage his relationship with search firms and the points I made to him then are then are still relevant now. The first thing I would point out to everyone is that the search business isn’t what it used to be. (But then, what is?) I would suggest that there honestly aren’t a lot of searches currently going on anywhere in America, hence the brevity of our newsletter most days. When there are a lot of searches out in the market, my phone here at world headquarters rings non-stop, and recently it has been more like a library atmosphere. That said, there are a few [ Read more… ]

This is no time to blend

From our daily member newsletter on April 19, 2016

In the movie “My Cousin Vinny” starring Joe Pesci and Marisa Tomei there is a very funny scene at the beginning of the movie when they arrive in a small Alabama town from New York City, the dialogue for which goes like this: Vinny Gambini: What are you wearing? Mona Lisa Vito: What? Vinny Gambini: You look like a tourist. Mona Lisa Vito: What about you? Vinny Gambini: I fit in better than you. At least I’m wearing cowboy boots. Mona Lisa Vito: Oh yeah, you blend. The need to feel part of a group and the search for common ground when meeting others is a normal human survival behavior. In every initial conversation with a stranger, you search for [ Read more… ]

Selling from a full wagon

From our daily member newsletter on April 18, 2016

One of the great mysteries of this world is why consultants are expected to be over qualified for any job, but when it comes to hiring on a full time basis, companies don’t want anyone who is over qualified. Go figure. The frequent comment from clients for consulting work is “I hope I am not going to have to pay for training time.” Yet, when faced with the wonderful prospect of hiring someone who has been there and done that, most companies shy away. They are just so concerned about your being bored that the very idea that you may not be learning anything really new is a major obsession with them. Have any of them ever been unemployed? Now [ Read more… ]

I’ll leave the light on for you

From our daily member newsletter on April 17, 2016

I am sometimes surprised how bashful financial types can be. Although Matt’s rule of networking is “any excuse will do,” many members of The FENG do hesitate picking up that phone and asking for help. Our goal in The FENG is to take away their excuses and get them to call us. As Forrest Gump would argue, life is like a box of chocolates. You never know if that person calling you will become a friend for the rest of your life or not, but you always have to be willing to take that chance. In all my years of being in the world of work, I have always returned every phone call. Call me stupid, but I have been [ Read more… ]

Attention to detail

From our daily member newsletter on April 14, 2016

I am often disappointed by the correspondence I receive from members, and I wonder if it is just me they treat this way, or if it is everyone in the world. I fear it is everyone in the world. Call me compulsive, call me a nitpicker (and I am admittedly both and proud of it), but there is a certain paradox in our being financial folks who tick and tie spread sheets and the obvious lack of precision in our daily correspondence. (Please, if you have recently sent me a pristine email, this is not directed at you.) There is of course the recently passed law of the last typo. (There is always one more.) But, with the power tools [ Read more… ]

Is your job boring? Is there a cure?

From our daily member newsletter on April 13, 2016

Several years ago I had the pleasure of speaking at a quarterly meeting of the Association of International Bank Auditors on the subject of Networking Strategies. As you might expect in any gathering of financial folks, several of those in attendance were members of The FENG. One of the topics that came up during the Q&A part of my session was what do you do if you are bored in your job. Although I was honestly caught a little off guard at the time, upon reflection, it is actually a very good question and one about which we should always be thinking. Let me start you out with the idea that as educated people we have an inherent need to [ Read more… ]

Experience versus the energy of youth

From our daily member newsletter on April 12, 2016

There was an article I read a long time ago about the value of experience versus the energy of youth. The premise and conclusion were no surprise to me. Experience has a tendency to win out. While I would gladly concede that Americans have always worshiped youth and that there is inherent prejudice out there about us “well experienced” types, the truth is that in the world of work, only the end product and total amount of “real” work produced is what matters. Well experienced people produce more in a shorter period of time, generally speaking, than those still “learning on the job.” Intuitively, this should be something that most folks would accept. In my youth, my father was a [ Read more… ]

How very incomplete of you

From our daily member newsletter on April 11, 2016

I don’t know about you, but the people who write to me and the people I call (when they’re not there) frequently drive me crazy. Let me start you off with the idea that I am a big fan of FULL outgoing signatures. A full outgoing signature includes your “greeting to use,” your physical address, your phone numbers in the order you want them called, and your email address. I’m not sure what is so hard about this concept, but I rarely see anyone comply. I have to ask myself, do they really want me to contact them? I will share with you that I have an “evil plan” at work. I check all of the messages I get against [ Read more… ]

Square pegs and round holes

From our daily member newsletter on April 10, 2016

When we review candidates for assignments being handled by The FECG, we try to do our dead level best to “push the envelope” on your behalf and try to find some way to visualize your credentials as fitting the assignment currently in hand. After all, you responded. It could be you are right. There is a long joke I heard once about a guy who prayed to the “big guy above” to help him win the lottery. After several drawings where he didn’t win with appropriate pleadings in between, he was just about to give up hope when a booming voice thundered: “Help me out – buy a ticket.” In much the same way, we suggest in our postings that [ Read more… ]

The three Musketeers

From our daily member newsletter on April 7, 2016

Have you ever wondered why so many things are structured in threes? In addition to the three Musketeers mentioned above, we eat 3 meals a day. Why not 2 or 4? We use threes in art to define structures like primary, secondary and tertiary colors on a color wheel. Nature is filled with threes: Land, sea, and air. In baseball, there are three strikes and you are out, three outs to an inning, and a trinity of trinities (3X3), in other words, 9 innings. Coincidence? And, for us accounting types, the three principal ways of organizing a business are: as a sole proprietorship, as a partnership, or as a corporation. With all the threes common in the world, it sort [ Read more… ]

Getting started …. AGAIN

From our daily member newsletter on April 6, 2016

If looking for a job the first time wasn’t hard enough, going at it a second time after only a short break can be in some respects even harder. Sure, bringing your resume up to date isn’t all that difficult. There is the issue of how to deal with a short period of employment, but once you have decided how to display it, you are basically there. The really hard part is restarting your networking process. Contacting all of the friends and associates who were kind enough to see you last time can be more than a little intimidating. How are you going to explain why you are “back at it” again? In part what is going on here is [ Read more… ]

War stories

From our daily member newsletter on April 5, 2016

Anyone who has been working as long as most of us in The FENG must have their favorite personal war stories. The question is really how best to use those stories in interviewing and resume writing. I often hear these stories from members and marvel that they frequently don’t appear at all on their resumes. The reason normally given is that they are saving them for the interview. Friends, if they are such great stories, why aren’t they on your resume? If you don’t put them on your resume, you may never get that interview! I think the usual reason is that they are just too long. Knowing many of my own stories and how I can rattle on, it [ Read more… ]

Call me Mr. Magoo

From our daily member newsletter on April 4, 2016

Tonight’s editorial will be somewhat of a repeat for our more senior members as it is on resumes. Yes, those terribly difficult to construct documents that make the critical difference between being pulled from a pile of 500 resumes, or not. You should all accept the fact that writing your resume is somewhat analogous to taking out your own appendix. Only you know that you are sick, but doing the whole operation yourself can be dicey at best. It doesn’t hurt from time to time to seek out some professional or semi-professional help like a member of The FENG’s Resume Review Committee to help you put the finishing touches on this marketing document. (Contact ResumeReview@TheFENG.org for this kind of help.) [ Read more… ]

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