EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

If you are going to bother

From our daily member newsletter on February 20, 2017

I have often been heard to say that job leads have no value. That’s why we share them. It’s not that they have NO value, it is just that their value is limited to you as an individual (you have to be a perfect fit) and that their shelf life is extraordinarily short. I would also argue that to a very great degree, your resume stands alone. By this I mean that it provides the primary tool by which you are going to be evaluated. Others may disagree, but I read resumes first and cover letters second. If you are going to win the day, the key elements in the requirements shown in any job posting should be on your [ Read more… ]

Networking-The NFL approach

From our daily member newsletter on February 19, 2017

A lot has been written over the years and in this newsletter about the do’s and don’ts of networking. In his book, Rites of Passage, John Lucht talks about the NFL approach to networking where you block and tackle your networking contacts and hold them down until they come up with at least 3 names. I hope that those of us in The FENG never take this approach, especially when it comes to other members. Still, with 40,000+ members, some of our approaches to “networking FENG style” need to be repeated. There was an article in the New York Times a long time ago that several members called to my attention. The title was “Hiring? You’re Everyone’s Best Friend.” It [ Read more… ]

Enlightened self interest

From our daily member newsletter on February 16, 2017

Given that the newsletter is still a little short these days, I thought I would repeat and expand on some thoughts I have had over the years as to why we share job leads. If I may quote from our website: The basic purpose of our group is to give individuals who have been Chief Financial Officers, Controllers, and Vice Presidents of Finance, Treasury, Tax, or Mergers & Acquisition, an opportunity to share job leads with their fellow financial executives. We make every attempt to provide leads that are useful by inviting members of our network to participate in leads in which we are ACTIVE candidates. While at first blush this approach may appear counterintuitive, the value of any lead [ Read more… ]

Impacting the lives of others

From our daily member newsletter on February 15, 2017

Over the course of our own lives, we are often unaware of things we have said and done that have positively affected the lives of those we know. A moment of caring. A word of advice. Sometimes just listening when that is needed. For the person on the receiving end, it just may be something that they will replay in their minds for the rest of their lives. One of my closely held beliefs is that everyone wants to help, but not everyone knows how to go about it. Part of what we do in our little society called The FENG is teaching each other how to accomplish this very important mission. What I hope we all be able to [ Read more… ]

Facilitating communication

From our daily member newsletter on February 14, 2017

I don’t know how many of you go for humorous movies. There aren’t too many good ones, but when there is a good one, the part I enjoy the most is “the running gag.” In the movie Airplane, for example, Lloyd Bridges playing the part of McCroskey starts by saying: “Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue!” He then continues variations on this theme throughout the movie. Here at world headquarters the running gag is “This calls for Matt’s secret decoder ring!” You see a lot of folks are apparently unaware of the importance of providing their name anywhere in the messages they send. In addition, there just is no substitute for providing your phone number, [ Read more… ]

The clock is always ticking

From our daily member newsletter on February 13, 2017

As accounting professionals we always remember to ask: “What is the deadline?” The problem is that when it comes to job search, a deadline is often not indicated. I am sensitive to this little quirk that is apparently hard wired in the minds of my many friends, and for this reason, job leads posted by The FECG always include a deadline. How long do you generally have to respond to a posting? I would say the window for most jobs is between 15 minutes to 48 hours. A lot depends on where it has been posted and the nature of the response address. If it is a temporary mailbox on Hotmail or Yahoo, I would lean toward 15 minutes. No, [ Read more… ]

Maintaining a positive attitude

From our daily member newsletter on February 12, 2017

Having a positive attitude at ALL times is the most important thing you can do in life. And, not just when you are job searching. But is it really possible to maintain a positive attitude ALL the time? Well, I suppose not, but it never hurts to try. If you are having trouble from time to time maintaining that winning smile of yours, DON’T call anyone or see anyone that hour or that day. My Grandmother used to say: “The worm that lives in the horseradish thinks the whole world is horseradish.” The analogy for your search is that if you only call others and meet with others when you are able to maintain a positive persona, they will come [ Read more… ]

90 second announcements

From our daily member newsletter on February 9, 2017

One of the more difficult conventions to master of our many traditions is the 90 second announcement. Still, once you have mastered it, it can pay big dividends because it is the perfect answer to “so, tell me about yourself.” Let’s start out with my favorite mantra: Speech is the slowest form of communication. (As you know, I’m married to a speech pathologist, so I really do know these things.) You honestly can’t cover a lot of details in 90 seconds so you have to pick and choose what you want to say. And, how you say it is also important. Body language and delivery is every bit as important as the words themselves. Your first objective is to get [ Read more… ]

The easy button

From our daily member newsletter on February 8, 2017

Staples, the office supply company, had an “Easy Button” that they sold in their stores several years ago. (I think they still carry it.) I worked on an assignment for Staples a few years ago and although we didn’t place anyone with them, their Human Resources contact sent me an Easy Button as a gift. (WOW!) The TV commercial they ran at the time featured people in various difficult work situations lifting up a cover plate and finding an “Easy Button.” Apparently, whatever the task, this easy button got the job done for you. Since I have had one on my desk, I have found it really does work! (Yeah, right.) Now, if only they could invent an “Easy Button” [ Read more… ]

The excuse you can’t cure

From our daily member newsletter on February 7, 2017

If you really need to get someone you are interviewing off the phone or out of your office, there is no better approach than to use what I call “The excuse you can’t cure.” In the annals of job search, there is no better tool. No one gets mad. No one screams. No one hits you. (This is especially important.) The beauty of “The excuse you can’t cure.” is that the victim doesn’t feel a thing. In fact, he/she usually accepts the problem as his or her own, not yours. This tool plays itself out with comments such as “If only you had a CPA.” Well, if you don’t have one, you certainly aren’t going to get one by tomorrow. [ Read more… ]

The fine line

From our daily member newsletter on February 6, 2017

To call or not to call, that is the question. To write or not to write, that is the question. When is enough, enough? (Or perhaps you should just show up in person and demand to see someone?) At what point do you move from showing your persistence and tenacity to just being a pest? Well, the truth is, I don’t know. I do operate on the principle that if you don’t ask, you don’t get. It comes from my many years as Chief Financial Officer of an Advertising Agency trying to collect bills from our clients. How often I heard the story: “I was just about to put your check in the mail.” Oh sure, now that I called. [ Read more… ]

Networking-A navigation problem

From our daily member newsletter on February 5, 2017

Acting as captain and primary navigator for a sailboat as I do is challenging at times. Back in the old days before I had a Loran or a GPS unit, life was much more difficult. Step one in navigation is to get out a chart of your local area that hopefully has both your starting point and your end point. On Long Island Sound, although you can sometimes draw a straight line between where you are and your destination, more often than not you need to do a little zigzagging to avoid the rocks. (Just so you know it is always a good idea to avoid rocks.) Since space is limited tonight, we will avoid the problem of your destination [ Read more… ]

Guns blazing

From our daily member newsletter on February 2, 2017

Have you ever had the feeling that the world was against you? How can I tell you this? It is. To be a member of our august body you need to have at least 20 years of work experience. You also need to have held a senior level title and earned at least $120k per year. Most of our members have a lot more experience and have earned a lot more. You would think this would be a good thing, but you would be wrong. Okay, if you are at the lower end of our membership in terms of age and/or compensation, many of my remarks are not entirely correct. But, if you are in your late 40’s, early 50’s [ Read more… ]

Acquiring knowledge

From our daily member newsletter on February 1, 2017

One of the things you learn pretty quickly in sailing is that “Mighty Mouse” is not going to come to your rescue if you get into trouble. Sure, there is a “AAA” type of service for boats, but the risks out on the water and the timelines for help getting to you are always significant. In the early days of our sailing as a family, we certainly had our share of misadventures. And, although we do more and go further than we used to, the tall tales I tell tend to have happier endings. Over the 35+ years I have been sailing, I have acquired a wealth of knowledge and I am at all times delighted to share what I [ Read more… ]

The burden of communication

From our daily member newsletter on January 31, 2017

I often hear members complain about people not reading their resume carefully enough. The subject usually comes up when members have been rejected for a job or haven’t gotten a response for a job they were convinced represented a fit. Alas, the sad truth is that WE bear the burden of properly communicating our credentials to the world at large. No one on the receiving end of your opus is OBLIGATED to read between the lines and figure out why you are a fit. A recruiter I spoke to quite some time ago, knowing our reputation for only responding when qualified, took the time once to call each individual who sent in a resume for a particular posting. (No, I [ Read more… ]

The importance of being personal

From our daily member newsletter on January 30, 2017

I don’t know about you, but I can almost always tell when I get a thinly disguised personal mailing that is actually a mass mailing of some kind. On the one hand, I am glad you are communicating with a lot of folks because you need to do that. But, there is a big difference between doing a volume of networking and doing a mass mailing. A mass mailing isn’t in any way personal. In the context of networking, mass mailing is an act of desperation or ignorance as to “how the game is played.” When was the last time you had a warm fuzzy about a letter that began “Dear Current Occupant” or “To Whom It May Concern?” With [ Read more… ]

Urban legends of job search

From our daily member newsletter on January 29, 2017

In the 20+ years that I have been Chairman of The FENG, I have heard more nonsense about job search approaches than any of you would believe. Some of the most accepted practices such as leaving off graduation dates and the proverbial “to present,” even when you have been gone for several months, are so well accepted that those who adhere to these practices don’t believe me when I tell them it simply doesn’t work. If instead of accusing some well-respected members of our august body of lying, let me instead “lower my voice” and suggest instead that they are at times using ineffective approaches in their search. Life is a continual negotiation with others. Let me characterize two very [ Read more… ]

The dreaded telephone interview

From our daily member newsletter on January 26, 2017

If going on an interview wasn’t stressful enough, having a telephone interview is even worse. More and more these days, companies are doing a telephone screening of candidates before they go to the time and expense of having someone come into the office. The good news is your resume has been pulled from the hundreds submitted. The bad news is, you are about to be ambushed. When I have a client who wants to do an initial telephone screen, I usually insist on contacting our candidates before they call. The simple reason is that many candidates list their cell phone on their resume as a primary point of contact. So, visualize this. You are driving down the road in heavy [ Read more… ]

Imparting dignity

From our daily member newsletter on January 25, 2017

Those of you who know me (and in particular our Administrative Assistants) know that I hate almost all abbreviations. It’s not that I don’t typically know what they mean. It is primarily that the longer version honestly doesn’t take up that much more space and looks a lot more important. In any case, it creates a consistency to our membership directories that I have always believed was important. As with so many things in life, it isn’t what you say, it is how you say it. Let me give you a few examples and see what you think. (Please don’t disagree with me. I am in one of my sensitive periods right now.) EVP & CFO or Executive Vice President [ Read more… ]

Dummy up

From our daily member newsletter on January 24, 2017

Most of the postings in our evening newsletter do not reveal the name of the client. There is a reason for this. The search firm wants to keep it a secret. (Duh!) There are several reasons why they tend to do this. Their first fear is that you might call their client. Now I know that none of the members of The FENG are dumb enough to do this, but it does happen once or twice a year. (With 50,000+ members we have quite a track record of good behavior.) Usually it proves to be someone other than someone from our august body who has committed this crime, but the suspicion still remains. Old habits of secrecy die hard, and [ Read more… ]

Trick questions

From our daily member newsletter on January 23, 2017

Now that the job market is going to be picking up again (from my lips to God’s ear), I thought we should turn our attention to the favorite trick questions that interviewers like to ask. In the spirit of sharing our knowledge and experience, I would ask those of you who have your favorites to send them in, hopefully with a good answer. If you don’t have a good answer to your “trick question,” send it in anyway. If need be, we will put it out to a panel of our experts. The all-time favorite is, of course, why did you leave your last job? Inquiring minds have a right to know I suppose, but if there was ever a [ Read more… ]

Developing a thick skin

From our daily member newsletter on January 22, 2017

As someone who now makes sales calls all day long, it is sometimes hard for me to remember the difficulty I initially had in picking up that 400 pound phone. Back in the dark days of 1991-1992 (the two years I was out of work), I found that my experience doing collection work as a CFO sort of gave me a baseline of mental strength to pursue my networking contacts. I was CFO of an Advertising Agency. I suppose that collecting from “clients” is a little different than collecting from other deadbeats. To that end, I developed what I referred to as the “glass bell” technique. I found that if I called often enough, had my facts in order and [ Read more… ]

Tinker Bell, fairy dust, happy thoughts and time

From our daily member newsletter on January 19, 2017

For those of you who are not familiar with the Tinker Bell story, all you need to know to understand tonight’s editorial is that the fairy dust Tinker Bell could sprinkle on you would only make you fly if were thinking happy thoughts. Let me add to this idea about thinking happy thoughts, one of the “true” facts (as opposed to false facts) about life is that there is only so much time in the world. And, one of “time’s” major failings (as a product) is that it only moves forward. In keeping with my usual theme that “wishing will make it so,” let me make a few suggestions for all of you who are looking for new “work opportunities” [ Read more… ]

The competition is fierce

From our daily member newsletter on January 18, 2017

What everyone should be clear about is that although I believe that “been there and done that” is more respected now than in most previous time periods in our great nation, you still have to “prove the null hypothesis” that you can do the job better than anyone else. The reduced lack of age discrimination only means you will have a chance at being considered. It doesn’t mean you will have a leg up on the competition. The primary prejudice against “old” people is that they aren’t up to date on the latest technology and that if they are hired for a job that is “beneath their dignity” that they will leave the moment the market picks up. To tackle [ Read more… ]

Is the glass half full?

From our daily member newsletter on January 17, 2017

We are probably all aware and have been known to ponder the enigma of: “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” As good accountants, we have also probably pondered whether the glass was half full or half empty. If only “they” had a good accounting procedure, I am sure we would know. We would also know which portion had been charged to expense and which was still “hung up” on the balance sheet. (I always visualize a meat locker labeled “Balance Sheet” with sides of beef hanging inside when I hear the phrase “hung up on the balance sheet.”) Actually, tonight’s editorial is about the need for all of us to recognize, in ourselves and in those around us, [ Read more… ]

The suspension of disbelief

From our daily member newsletter on January 16, 2017

Key to the success of most movies is the suspension of disbelief. There are so many improbable events that make of the fabric of what you are viewing, that without this critical element in full force, in most cases the pleasure you experience wouldn’t be there. (My favorite phrase is “based on a true story.” Oh sure! All right, I’ll play along.) It may initially come as a surprise to you as a new member that the most valuable part of your membership in The FENG isn’t the job leads, but rather it is the networking opportunities with other members. Here too, a little suspension of disbelief is in order. (Yes, I know in good times we publish about 1,000 [ Read more… ]

Summing it all up

From our daily member newsletter on January 15, 2017

Not unlike your 90-second announcement, the space at the top of your resume is vitally important to getting folks to “listen” to the rest of your story. Try to visualize if you will, 200 resumes piled up on some poor screener’s desk. With any luck, they have been printed and collated correctly with the resume on top and email cover letter stapled behind. (Reference is usually made to cover letters only when there is interest in the candidate and there is an unanswered question on the resume.) With a strong cup of coffee (black, of course), the goal is to eliminate as many resumes as possible with what I call the “at a glance” test. Simply stated, if you don’t [ Read more… ]

More information please

From our daily member newsletter on January 12, 2017

I am more often than not surprised by the amount of time it can take for a company to develop a position description and yet at the end of the day not really be able to capture the essential elements for a particular opportunity. I suppose in part this is because senior level position descriptions are a compromise. They are partly a reflection of who is in the job currently, but they also reflect things that the individual who held the job previously wasn’t able to accomplish. And, let’s not forget the fact that the company at which these tasks are to be performed isn’t static either. As readers of the end result, and especially with regard to opportunities that [ Read more… ]

Hang on tight

From our daily member newsletter on January 11, 2017

I often receive messages in which members comment about how job search puts you on an emotional roller coaster and I thought I would address this issue in tonight’s editorial. I am not a professional psychologist, but having been out of work myself for two very long years back in 1991 and 1992 — I’ve been there. I think the first thing you need to accept if you are active in your search is that your daily routine has been interrupted. Where you go every day, how you plan your day and what you do every day is VERY different than it was in the most recent piece of time. Add to this the fact that suddenly everyone is treating [ Read more… ]

Coziness is a state of mind

From our daily member newsletter on January 10, 2017

I suppose that at times being a member of the runaway train we call The FENG would appear not to lend itself to a whole lot of warm fuzzies. Ah, if only we could return to those halcyon days when there were only 50 of us and on a good day 15 of us would gather around that small table in the Westport library and discuss jobs we heard about. Friends, although this sounds good, I don’t want to go back. (Besides, we can’t.) Sure we are a whole lot bigger these days, but like love, sharing the warmth of our friendships with more and more people is INCREASING the warm fuzzies, not the reverse. Back in those DARK days [ Read more… ]

Conflicting advice

From our daily member newsletter on January 9, 2017

Wouldn’t it be nice if every time you asked a question, you got the same answer? Unfortunately it seems that every time you ask a question, sometimes even of the same person, you get different answers. Perhaps this is good. It gives you the chance, as an adult, to make your own decisions and choices. I know there are those of you out there who prefer certainty. This is part of the reason we went into Accounting. (Ah, the symmetry of it all.) But, the truth in this world is that everything in this world is someone’s OPINION. (What’s your opinion? Wrong!) When you had to ask for directions (back in the old days prior to GPS), you hoped that [ Read more… ]

Walter Mitty

From our daily member newsletter on January 8, 2017

Walter Mitty was an interesting guy. Although he did one thing in his real life, he had the opportunity to do lots of exciting things in his imaginary life. As we advance in our careers, I think all of us want the opportunity to do new and different things. It is only normal to want to change industries or change careers. And, many of us actually succeed in doing it. I am doing something very different in my second career and enjoying every minute of it. I hope that no one will read this editorial and think I am trying to discourage them. Hopes and dreams, however, have to be measured against the economic reality of your value to a [ Read more… ]

Building your inner circle of friends (part two)

From our daily member newsletter on January 5, 2017

(Those of you who missed part one will find it at: http://www.thefeng.org/mattsblog/2017/01/building-your-inner-circle-of-friends-3/) The idea that you can wipe the slate clean is an enduring and endearing idea of mankind, and one I fully support. No matter how bad you have been at networking in the past year, this week you have the opportunity to get a strong start on building and strengthening your inner circle of friends in 2017. The best analogy I can come up with tonight is not a sailing one. (I know everyone is disappointed, but I’ll try to come up with one in the next few days.) Hopefully all of you are familiar with the circus act where someone sets up plates and straws. It is [ Read more… ]

Building your inner circle of friends

From our daily member newsletter on January 4, 2017

If you are having trouble getting your job search off to a flying start in 2017, may I suggest you try increasing your inner circle of friends? The most valuable feature on our website is Member Directory Search: http://thefeng.org/membersonly/memberSearch.php All you have to do is follow the link above and sign-in to use it. Think of it as LinkedIn on turbo. The reason I say this is that some huge percentage of the folks on LinkedIn, and that includes members of The FENG, do NOT have complete directory listings. On The FENG website EVERYONE has a complete directory listing because our professional staff sees to it. Not only are listings for all new members created by our professional staff, but [ Read more… ]

When your cup runneth over

From our daily member newsletter on January 3, 2017

From time to time I have gotten messages from members who either had multiple offers outstanding or wanted me to discuss what to do when you are so blessed. Or, is it cursed? (I don’t know about you, but I hate having too many choices.) Of course, when faced with the possibility of multiple offers, you can be assured that they won’t all come to fruition on exactly the same day. Hence the conundrum. Being individuals of high integrity, there is an urge to tell “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God” to everyone involved in the process. My first suggestion is to operate on a “need to know” basis. I know it [ Read more… ]

A delicate subject

From our daily member newsletter on December 28, 2016

I know there are some members who have been “in the hunt” a long time and may feel that they are getting “a little long in the tooth.” I can understand the problem since I was out of work for almost two full years – 1991-1992. Tradition has it that if you are still at work, your most recent job can be shown as 2005-Present. If you are no longer there, it would be shown as 2005-2016. You may argue that your likelihood of getting called about a job is lessened if you are no longer employed, and that may be true. I frankly, don’t know if it is or it isn’t. I would suggest that the more difficult issue [ Read more… ]

The consummate professional

From our daily member newsletter on December 22, 2016

Although there is no truth to the rumor that I have a pair of wing tip boat shoes, I do try to dress well for our meetings here in Connecticut as well as to any other networking event I attend. I suppose since the meeting of the Westport Chapter is near where I live, at the end of day, and since I work out of the house, I’m sure no one would think it odd if I was wearing old ratty jeans and a sweatshirt. I could always tell them I was fixing something around the house or make up some other lame excuse. The truth is that I don’t get many opportunities to wear my “grown up” clothes. Just [ Read more… ]

Performing the behaviors

From our daily member newsletter on December 21, 2016

I’m not sure why it is, but most financial folks think they are terrible networkers. The truth is that scattered throughout our newsletter every night are ideas you can harness in your daily life to earn the title “Master Networker.” All of us are amateurs, I suppose, at most things we do in life. You can start with raising your kids (if only you got to do it over), to relationships with others, including your significant other. We come to life to learn, and the best lessons are the ones we learn the hard way. Most of our members are over 40. A lot of water has passed under the bridge, and yet a lot more is yet to pass. [ Read more… ]

If the phone doesn’t ring, it’s me

From our daily member newsletter on December 20, 2016

Several years ago, a very old friend of mine called my attention to this song by Jimmy Buffet. I’m not sure why it is, but many people never call anyone. In the enigma within a puzzle that is life, they are also always wondering why no one calls them. When I was in college, my grandmother once said to me that if I wrote to her she would write me back, but I had to write first. At the moment she said it, I thought it was a little strange, but without the feedback that your letters are being received it IS kind of pointless to keep writing. Everyone has to take their turn. I’m glad I followed my grandmother’s [ Read more… ]

Asking for and accepting help

From our daily member newsletter on December 19, 2016

One of the biggest challenges I face on a daily basis is getting our members to ask for and accept help when they need it. I suppose it is a guy thing and roughly 90% of our members are guys. As everyone knows, guys don’t ask for directions at the gas station. (Have you ever wondered why? Thank goodness for GPS! We don’t have to do that anymore.) Well, I have explored this issue from all sides and the conclusion that I have come to is that the reason most folks shy away from asking for and accepting help is a fear of being unable to pay back the debt they have incurred to the person who provided the assistance. [ Read more… ]

Our open door policy

From our daily member newsletter on December 18, 2016

I’m sure all of you have heard the joke about the executive who was addressing the entire staff and when he came to the part about having an open door policy, he asked if whoever took his door would give it back. Well, the open door policy in The FENG is of a similar nature. None of us should have closed doors when it comes to communications from our fellow members. Yes, I know that at times we get messages from our fellow members that appear to be a little impersonal and/or not well thought out, but we should all give these “misguided” individuals the benefit of the doubt and try to help them anyway. Not everyone is a wiz [ Read more… ]

To Whom It May Concern

From our daily member newsletter on December 15, 2016

One of the more amusing aspects of this time of year is the effort some people make to reach out to those in their address book with holiday greetings of some kind. In years past, this took the form of Hallmark cards, all very colorful, that I opened and put on the fireplace mantel and/or around my office to create a festive atmosphere. (I miss those cards, don’t you?) Now I get a lot of email greeting cards. (How boring!) While I don’t print them and use them for decorations, they have the same flaw that the physical cards had: Who was that masked man that sent them? While often times the envelope the card came in had a return [ Read more… ]

Tilting at windmills

From our daily member newsletter on December 14, 2016

From time to time, I have been accused of tilting at windmills. Actually, I am never offended when I hear this because in large part everything we do in The FENG has elements of it, and I’m proud of it. It has indeed been a long road developing The FENG. Most importantly, I haven’t had to do it alone. I have had the support of a huge number of “Fanatic FENG’ers. We are now the largest organization of our type in the entire world. It’s not too shabby, having had only 63 members at the end 1996 to now have over 50,000 members nationwide and around the world. We are indeed a force in the world ALREADY and yet growing [ Read more… ]

It’s always about you

From our daily member newsletter on December 13, 2016

For those of you who are movie fans, there was a memorable scene in a totally forgettable movie called “The Mexican” with Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt. Julia is throwing Brad’s clothes down on him from a balcony while having an argument with him and screaming: “It’s always about you!” Well, one time when it should always be about you is when you are doing your 90 second announcement. You would think with all the focus us financial types have that it would be easy to talk about ourselves, but you would be wrong. For those new to the 90 second announcement, it all too easy to fall into the trap of discussing why you left your last job, frequently [ Read more… ]

The too hard pile

From our daily member newsletter on December 12, 2016

Everyone has a “too hard pile.” (Even I have one!) It’s all that work that sits in a pile by your desk and you never seem to get to it. I suppose there ought to be a law or something that would prevent us from leaving things in the “too hard” pile for very long. Of course, many of us (myself included) would now be guilty of a crime. (Perhaps a law would be too harsh.) Anyway, what started me thinking about the “too hard” pile is the constant state of my desk these days. I know I move a lot of the paper on my desk every day, but the pile isn’t going down as fast as it should. [ Read more… ]

Local candidates only

From our daily member newsletter on December 11, 2016

I know how disheartening it can be to get to the bottom of a job posting and see those deathless words: “Local candidates only.” Still, the facts are that there are always lots of qualified folks applying for any great job, and at least in major metropolitan areas there is no need for a company to move someone. In addition to the availability of local talent, a not so obvious issue is the difficulty of meeting and getting to know a candidate from outside the area. If we are talking “East Coast/West Coast,” the three hour time difference can make it difficult to connect. With this as a backdrop, if you see a job posting that is a good fit [ Read more… ]

Rules of engagement

From our daily member newsletter on December 7, 2016

At most meetings of The FENG here in Westport I take a few minutes during my introduction to explain the best approach to contacting other members of our now vast organization. The best approach to contacting just about anyone, including other members, is to first send a letter of introduction with a copy of your resume. I know this flies in the face of things you may have learned, but in a few quick paragraphs, let me see if I can explain. The first of Matt’s laws of which you should be aware is that speech is the slowest form of communication. To call someone and walk them through your background is a difficult proposition at best. The same information [ Read more… ]

Presenting your credentials

From our daily member newsletter on December 6, 2016

Job search is a draining and discouraging process at times. (Or, is that most of the time?) Well, maybe not, unless you make it so. The truth is that most of us financial types stay in jobs a lot longer than those in other disciplines like marketing or sales. In addition, most of the work we do is being Mr./Ms. Inside where others know us. The need to “explain ourselves” just isn’t part of our make-up. (Besides, do they want that check signed or not? Ah, the golden rule. He/she who has the gold or controls the gold, makes the rules.) At the end of the movie “Good Fellas,” the wise guy who has ratted out his fellow mobsters is [ Read more… ]

Don’t be lazy

From our daily member newsletter on December 5, 2016

In a sense, a sailboat isn’t a complicated machine. Compared with other means of transportation such as cars or planes, there really isn’t much to a sailboat. Sails are pretty simple, and if you are like me, you don’t use the motor if you can avoid it. (We only burned about 50 gallons of diesel this summer, including our vacation. How much wear and tear could a motor get being used that little?) And, laziness tends to go right along with the summer, doesn’t it? And after a long day in the hot sun, it is easy to forget that this “thing” on which your life depends may need some attention when you would much rather head off for a [ Read more… ]

The failure to communicate

From our daily member newsletter on December 4, 2016

The story I hear more often than not is how perfect someone was for a particular posting and their amazement that they didn’t get a call. Of course, there are a lot of possible reasons why someone doesn’t get a response. It could be they were in too late. It could be that there were requirements for the job that only became obvious once responses rolled in. Criteria that didn’t seem attainable are suddenly appearing on so many of the credentials of candidates received that those without it aren’t even considered. My only concern tonight is to address the possibility that you don’t communicate your areas of expertise in an easily absorbed manner. Let’s put ourselves on the other side [ Read more… ]

Abbreviations

From our daily member newsletter on December 1, 2016

I guess the desire to shorten just about everything is part of human nature. I once worked with a guy named Harry and the boss insisted on calling him Har. I suppose he could have called him H, but maybe that was TOO short. When I was in college, everyone was talking about the ATGSB. For those of you who don’t know, this stood for the Aptitude Test for Graduate Study in Business. Like slang expressions, folks use abbreviations to set themselves apart from others. If you don’t know what it means, you are probably not part of the “in crowd,” or at least MY in crowd. With this as an introduction, I’m not sure if I can articulate everything [ Read more… ]

An advertising over promise

From our daily member newsletter on November 30, 2016

For almost a decade I was Chief Financial Officer of an Advertising Agency. In addition to learning how to deal with a wild and crazy bunch of folks, I learned a lot not only about the advertising business, but also about advertising in general. One of the facts that I learned was that a good advertising campaign could get customers to try the product. (We were a very creative shop!) In some cases, we were so good at what we did that we almost put some of our clients out of business. Sounds odd, but oh so true. Promising 10 and delivering 5 is about one of the worst things you can do. In the context of job search, I [ Read more… ]

Move to where?

From our daily member newsletter on November 29, 2016

In 1991 when I was last out of work I was at a point in my life where I didn’t want to move. Although born in Chicago and raised in northern Indiana, I had lived in Connecticut for almost 20 years and I liked it here. My wife’s parents lived nearby and I had a daughter and son in high school. Moving really didn’t make sense in that it would have been very disruptive. And, much as I respect those who have taken jobs out of town and commuted for a period of time, it wasn’t something I was prepared to do. It seemed to me at the time that because I lived in the New York metropolitan area, there [ Read more… ]

Creating actionable messages

From our daily member newsletter on November 28, 2016

I’m a pretty organized guy. If I weren’t, it would be impossible to get all the things done in a day that I try to accomplish. (Sometimes I have even gotten all my email up to date!) Still, a few times a day I get an email from someone with incomplete information. A few years ago I wrote to a new member applicant and asked him to send me a resume with his educational information. Not a smart thing to leave off your resume. But okay, these things happen. He was also lacking a sponsor as far as I knew, so I mentioned that as well. The note back read in part: “Attached is a revised resume and, oh by [ Read more… ]

The original 2 for 1 sale

From our daily member newsletter on November 27, 2016

Every once in a while The Wall Street Journal publishes a cartoon worthy of discussion. Several years ago, the “Pepper … And Salt” cartoon showed a job seeker, obviously older, explaining his credentials to the interviewer with the following words: “Don’t think of me as a 54-year-old job applicant. Think of it as getting two 27-year-olds for the price of one.” This is not quite as good as the Jos. A. Bank buy one, get two free sales, but close enough. I’ve been sent several articles recently about age discrimination. Great topic and one that I think we should spend a lot of time beating a dead horse about. I’m thinking in terms of a belief system where we can [ Read more… ]

The holiday networking season

From our daily member newsletter on November 21, 2016

I try to take a few minutes of your time every year at this holiday season to remind you what a gold mine this time of year is to your networking efforts. Whether you are working or not working. Whether you are looking for a job or very happy where you are, this is the time of year when you don’t need much of an excuse to call EVERYONE you know and reconnect with them. The last thing any professional networker wants to be viewed as is someone who only calls when they need a job. This is such a great time of year to call old friends and new friends. Those with whom you have a close personal relationship [ Read more… ]

Common courtesy

From our daily member newsletter on November 20, 2016

There are some who would argue that in this day and age of email, texting and Tweeting, the world has become a more impersonal place than in those halcyon days of yesteryear. Please say it isn’t so. In this electronic age, it has become SO easy to be personal, that I can’t for the life of me fathom why anyone wouldn’t take the time to say thank you to anyone and everyone who sends them a message. I like to think that I have a society of 50,000+ friends. (I hope all of you feel the same way.) Although all of you need to be patient with me from time to time because I fall behind in my email, I [ Read more… ]

Dream a little dream

From our daily member newsletter on November 17, 2016

Up until the age of 46 I didn’t spend a single day unemployed. From the time I got out of the Army in 1971 until 1991 I only changed jobs twice. It doesn’t give you a lot of time to think about your career or to consider that you might be doing other things. During the two years I was out of work I did a lot of thinking and I tried a lot of different things. I suppose if I had found a job immediately my life would not be what it is today. I would venture to say it is better than it might have otherwise been despite the “years from heck.” As you know, all jobs are [ Read more… ]

Have a magical day

From our daily member newsletter on November 16, 2016

For those of you who have been there, I’m sure you recognize the Disney way of concluding a conversation. It is kind of cute, don’t you think? And, in the context of Disney, it sets you up for what you should be experiencing. The more common phrase in the United States, of course, is “Have a nice day” or for those given to extremes “Have a great day.” Perhaps I am a curmudgeon of sorts, but I have always considered such phrases to be somewhat of an over promise. The world I live in is to under promise and over deliver. If I say: Have a great day to someone, I always worry that I am setting them up for [ Read more… ]

Did you have a bad day?

From our daily member newsletter on November 15, 2016

Let’s face it, sooner or later you are bound to have a bad day. The odds of having 365 perfect days in a row just aren’t high. It’s sort of a reverse thing to the odds of your winning the lottery. Sure, someone wins it every day, but it never seems to be me. (I guess it would help if I bought a ticket, but I am a tightwad financial guy and I would never spend the money – but I digress.) By the way, if it turns out to be you, I hope you will make a generous contribution to The FENG or buy me a new car or something. Anyway, getting out of bed every morning, energized and [ Read more… ]

True confessions

From our daily member newsletter on November 14, 2016

While confession may be good for the soul, it is deadly when it comes to job search. The dreaded question: What is your greatest weakness? This is one of those questions we could easily do without. And, they often catch us by surprise. Enron aside, the problem is that most senior financial folks are very honest. I’m sure there is something about each of us we believe to be our greatest weakness. However, this is not the time to tell ANYONE about your secret concerns. Okay, you do have to say something. To say you have no weaknesses comes off as conceited or worse arrogant. But what should you confess to? My suggestion is that you target those things that [ Read more… ]

The quest for eternal truths

From our daily member newsletter on November 13, 2016

“Must have industry experience” often appears on position descriptions in this newsletter as well as ones one might see in the newspaper or on the various job boards that exist in the nether world of the Internet. The question is whether to respond or not to respond when the requirement is so clear. The obvious answer is that it depends. Much as we would like to believe that we have transferable skills (and we do), each industry has its peculiarities that need to be learned. Is a little cross fertilization from another industry a good idea? I have always been of this opinion. Still, in any job market, there are always going to be candidates who fit the bill to [ Read more… ]

They’re a pack of liars

From our daily member newsletter on November 10, 2016

There are an awful lot of people in this world who lie from time to time, some more frequently than others. And, not all of them are politicians. Others may have a different definition, but having an accounting background, I believe that anything that is said that isn’t the WHOLE truth is sort of a lie. I’ll give you a little hint about where I am going with tonight’s editorial by telling you that some of the worst prevaricators in this world are on the other side of the desk interviewing you for jobs you would love to have. Of course, if your wife asks you if her new dress makes her look fat, I hope you will have the [ Read more… ]

Old friends and your job search

From our daily member newsletter on November 9, 2016

One of the greatest disappointments you may discover during your job search is that old friends don’t call you back. When I began my job search back in 1991 and in the years since, I have often struggled to explain this syndrome to my many friends. My purpose is not to make excuses for anyone, but rather to explain the situation in a way that will lead us to be more forgiving. And, if we are lucky, perhaps to discover ways that in the end will cause us to benefit from these long established relationships. The syndrome you are experiencing I call “the death in the family thing.” People tend not to call or even to write because they are [ Read more… ]

Boo!

From our daily member newsletter on November 8, 2016

It has been said that everything you really need to know, you learned in kindergarten. A few years ago, I had the great pleasure of going trick or treating with my grandson. It is one of those things you obviously can’t do at my age unless you have grandchildren living nearby, and I am so blessed. It was a little cold and windy here in Connecticut that night, but it was one of those opportunities you just can’t miss. As my son and I wandered around the immediate neighborhood where my grandson lives, it was obvious that although most of the houses were decorated in the spirit of Halloween, there were also quite a few houses that weren’t decorated and [ Read more… ]

25 words or less

From our daily member newsletter on November 7, 2016

There is this great place right at the top of each resume that I find is not generally very well used. Right after your name, address, telephone numbers and email address, there is nothing more appropriate to appear than a summary. A summary, précis, or synopsis appearing in this location can save those reading your opus a lot of valuable time, and work to insure that you are included in that most desired pile of resumes to read later, as opposed to the pile that is positioned ever so close to the circular file. Look, I don’t know anything about you, so at this juncture you have a golden opportunity to give me a clear mental picture of what you [ Read more… ]

Throwing up on the customer

From our daily member newsletter on November 6, 2016

I hope you will all forgive me for the rather melodramatic subject of tonight’s editorial. Now that I have encouraged you to talk, my fear is that you will talk too much. Personal selling is a grand profession. Unlike many of the products that can be sold through mass marketing, personal selling products tend to be complicated, just like you. Complex products require a lot of sales training. Those of you who have experimented with selling insurance or other related financial services can relate to your fellow members of The FENG that the technical information was easy to absorb, but the real job of these folks is selling and more selling. That said, when you have a great product like [ Read more… ]

Do you want to be found?

From our daily member newsletter on November 3, 2016

I never cease to be amazed at the extremes job seekers go to hide. It is almost as if they would prefer NOT being selected for a job interview. Call me silly, but I make every attempt to make it easy for others to contact me. I know it isn’t the default, but I have even been known to use an outgoing signature on REPLIES to emails sent to me. You see, I have this stupid idea that perhaps you don’t know how to reach me. And, much as I dread human contact, it seems to be the only way to make a living. My outgoing signature (yes, I am going to beat that drum again) contains my “greeting to [ Read more… ]

Attached is the file

From our daily member newsletter on November 2, 2016

Many of us pride ourselves on being brief. Being a financial person in part is defined as being factual and to the point. Any member of our profession who had a tendency to rattle on would be viewed as a little odd, don’t you think? Many of you may be aware of Calvin Coolidge and his reputation for being brief. Both his dry Yankee wit and his frugality with words were legendary. As the story goes, his wife, Grace Goodhue Coolidge, recounted that a young woman sitting next to Coolidge at a dinner party confided to him she had bet she could get at least three words of conversation from him. Without looking at her he quietly retorted, “You lose.” [ Read more… ]

Do you get out much

From our daily member newsletter on November 1, 2016

The second Wednesday in November we will be having another meeting of The FENG’s Westport chapter. I tell you this not so that you will attend. Goodness knows, it is probably a little far for most of you. (But if your travels bring you to Westport on the evening of one of our meetings, please know you will be more than welcome to attend.) No, my reason is to remind you that chapter meetings represent a golden opportunity that honestly shouldn’t be missed. Have you been practicing your 90-second announcement? If you have been doing this in the comfort of your own home, let me assure you this is a good thing to do, but it is hardly enough. The [ Read more… ]

Fending off “silly” questions

From our daily member newsletter on October 31, 2016

Here you are (minding your own business) interviewing for a highly desirable “work opportunity” and all of a sudden, out of nowhere, a question is raised about your knowledge of a specific topic. If the issue being raised was on the position description, shame on you. I have to assume that you carefully read this obvious document and are clear in your mind where you have shortcomings. These areas are the proverbial “elephant sitting in the room” and are part and parcel of your preparation process. Given that you have been selected to be interviewed, one must assume that on balance you are a good fit and under active consideration. If you have a “knowledge void,” with respect to a [ Read more… ]

Force Equals Mass Times Acceleration

From our daily member newsletter on October 30, 2016

You might wonder what natural laws have to do with job search, but there is honestly a strong connection. The “mass” in this formula is you and your many talents not currently being applied to accounting and finance matters. The “acceleration” is a measure of how active you are in your job search. Are you actively networking, or have you given up? If you aren’t “fighting the good fight” the measured acceleration is obviously low. If you were untalented but working hard at finding a job, there would be more “force” being applied than if you were extremely talented and doing nothing. It has come to my attention that despite the recession having officially ended several years ago, many of [ Read more… ]

Can you hear me now?

From our daily member newsletter on October 27, 2016

One of my favorite commercials of all time was Verizon’s cell phone commercial. I actually didn’t like it, but because it is so well known I use it as a point of humor when talking to those I call and who call me when their cell phone connection fades in and out. Honestly folks, if you have to take or make an important phone call, don’t do it on a cell phone. I could be wrong, but years ago it was actually possible to interrupt those who called you. Not to say rudely interrupt, but rather to get a word in edgewise. Phone service just doesn’t seem to duplex as well as it used to. My guess is that the [ Read more… ]

The darkest hour is before dawn

From our daily member newsletter on October 26, 2016

As you can tell by the length of tonight’s newsletter, the published job market isn’t as strong as we would like it to be. That said, with 50,000+ members, I would hope we could generate more job leads for our newsletter. A few suggestions follow below. If I may paraphrase Yogi Berra, our politicians have messed up right field so bad I don’t think anyone can play it. You may substitute the word economy for right field. To mix a few metaphors tonight, as bad as the real economy may be and the job market for senior financial executives along with it, we have no choice but to play the cards we have been dealt. For those of you who [ Read more… ]

Increasing the depth of your friendships

From our daily member newsletter on October 25, 2016

Several years ago I read a book sent to me by one of our Associate members, Rich Guha. The title of the book was How to Get What You Most Want in Life. At 103 pages, even the busiest of our members honestly has the time to read this rare volume. I can assure you it is worth the time. If you want a copy the link is: http://www.amazon.com/How-What-Most-Want-Life/dp/0595662595. Although I found the book overall to be of great interest, tonight I would like to focus on Chapter 5: Making Friends & Networking. What caught my attention and interest was the following: “In the 18th century, many educated people spent hours a day writing letters to friends and talking to [ Read more… ]

Demonstrating attention to detail

From our daily member newsletter on October 24, 2016

The world today is filled with more opportunities to communicate than ever before. From email at your desk station to email by smart phone, to telephone calls. Every time you reach out and touch someone, all they know about you is what you send them. As Doug Fine has been heard to say: “Don’t make your first impression your last.” I would add to this the idea that EVERY communication that emanates from you needs to be professional. There are no casual communications possible, even in person. Like the Citizens Band radio that preceded it, those who pour out endless streams of communication feel that it is somehow okay to take short cuts. I suppose this is okay, but a [ Read more… ]

On being gracious in defeat

From our daily member newsletter on October 23, 2016

I have written many times about the fact that when the answer is no, you don’t get much honest information. There are two approaches that are typically used. The first is what I call “The excuse you can’t cure.” If you only had a CPA, and you don’t, there isn’t much that you can say. The second approach is to blame someone who “isn’t in the room.” I liked you, but there were other folks who interviewed you who didn’t and they didn’t tell me exactly why. It is a corollary of “blame shifting,” which many of you are familiar with from psychology class. The reason you only rarely get a “true” answer is that job seekers, especially us financial [ Read more… ]

Let me count the ways

From our daily member newsletter on October 20, 2016

One of the more depressing aspects of the job search process is the feeling that you aren’t making any progress. You are even worse off than a salesman selling big ticket items. While a salesman selling planes or expensive yachts may only make 5-10 sales in a year, YOU can only make one sale. And, if you haven’t made that one sale, you can easily feel like a failure. Let’s be clear, this is a terrible job market. Posted jobs have disappeared for many reasons. With the economic uncertainty we face, folks who are currently working are staying put eliminating what might be considered normal churn in the market. The search community has also been hard hit by this downturn [ Read more… ]

The wealth of talent

From our daily member newsletter on October 19, 2016

I have to tell you that I come away from most meetings of The FENG considerably impressed with the wealth of talent in the room. Perhaps it is just me, but the experience that most of our members bring to the party is truly amazing. The only problem that our members actually face is marketing their experience to others. Hey, if we were marketing experts, I assume we all would have gone into marketing. Unfortunately, we are accounting/finance types, and that coupled with our innate modesty appears to prevent us from bragging appropriately. The other not so obvious “syndrome” is that we have a wealth of talent and experiences. Yes, I know I said that already and in a positive [ Read more… ]

Knowing you’re not alone

From our daily member newsletter on October 18, 2016

They say that misery loves company. I hope all of you know that this has never been what The FENG was all about. While it is true that most of us are in that vast and over crowded arena called “middle age” and that the focus of our organization is job search related, what we share as an organization is the idea that none of us are alone. Yes, you have to do most of the “heavy lifting” yourself when it comes to managing your career, but knowing that there is help and support EVERY WHICH WAY you turn is what makes The FENG different than any other organization of which you might be a member. Several times a week [ Read more… ]

One device-many uses

From our daily member newsletter on October 17, 2016

In 1969 I was drafted into the U.S. Army. It was of course a difficult time. But, my approach to life has always been to see the humor in every situation, and I must say the Army gave me many opportunities. One of the most amazing things I was given during basic training was a little device called a P-38. For those of you who didn’t have the pleasure of Army service or those who did, but memory doesn’t serve, the P-38 was a rather remarkable can opener. About an inch or so in length, and sort of like a hinge in design, it could open any can of C-Rations. But enough of simple devices. The device that actually came [ Read more… ]

Oops, I made a mistake!

From our daily member newsletter on October 16, 2016

It sure is a disappointment to find out you aren’t perfect. I don’t know about you, but I have always enjoyed the fact that typically the spreadsheets of my life tie out. I guess it goes with the territory of being a senior financial executive. Most things in our lives are measurable or can be forecast with some accuracy. Everything that is except for the people and companies we have to deal with when we are working, and especially late in our career. And so it is that after a successful career with perhaps several large corporations, we join a company that loses money and/or goes out of business. Even worse, we may do this more than once over just [ Read more… ]

Who are you and why are you writing?

From our daily member newsletter on October 13, 2016

I continue to be amazed and astounded how many emails I get every day that aren’t signed and/or that make only vague references to what they are about. “Thank you for adding Joe to our membership” isn’t really all that helpful unless I know who you are and who Joe is. I am fortunate in that I have what I call “Matt’s secret decoder ring” (The FENG membership directory) handy at all times, but it is clearly an additional step to look you up and then I may have to check my sent mail or my deleted mail to see what we were talking about. Sometimes my mystery correspondent has taken the additional step of writing to me from an [ Read more… ]

Conflicting advice

From our daily member newsletter on October 12, 2016

One thing there is a lot of in this world is advice. What makes matters worse, a lot of it is conflicting advice. Just as it is difficult to work when you have your nose to the grindstone AND your shoulder to the wheel all at the same time, one person’s advice can often be in TOTAL conflict with another person’s. And, both of these individuals may be trusted advisors. One thing that I say at a lot at our meeting here in Connecticut is to put any advice you get through your own filters. To be quite honest, I often don’t know what’s best for me. How could I know what’s best for you? In the course of our [ Read more… ]

Square pegs and round holes

From our daily member newsletter on October 11, 2016

It is important to understand that all job leads are not created equal. In fact, the very idea of a job lead is that something very specific is being sought. Often times the primary issues are repeated in a lead in paragraph and referred to as “must haves.” The question is often how seriously to take them? From a job seekers perspective (the one I always try to take) a specific job lead can attract your interest for reasons of location, industry, skill set or compensation. The fact that a job lead has caught your attention, however, doesn’t mean that your background as presented in your resume will be viewed as a reasonable fit. To use a legal analogy, this [ Read more… ]

Social media and job search

From our daily member newsletter on October 10, 2016

Anyone who wants to jump in here and correct me is more than welcome to do so, but I have come to the conclusion that there are a lot of misconceptions about the value of social media in your job search. Let me be clear that I strongly recommend you have as complete a LinkedIn profile as you can. Keep your listing up to date and make sure it is completely consistent with your resume. Anything you publish about yourself can and very likely will be checked by some compulsive in the Human Resources department. A significant difference can derail you getting a perfectly good job, and you will never know what hit you. I would also strongly recommend that [ Read more… ]

Standard formats

From our daily member newsletter on October 6, 2016

As many of you know, one of my weekly occupations is reviewing new member applications. I try to keep in mind that for the most part I am seeing resumes that have just been completed out of whole cloth. In effect, these are the first result of days of writing and rewriting. Unfortunately, most are not even close to being finished, or as polished as they need to be. With my backgrounds in educational publishing, information publishing and advertising, I have a personal preference for standard formats. Although the information between the top of page one and the end of page two can be very creative, the structure really shouldn’t be. The rationale I would suggest to you is that [ Read more… ]

Self-improvement

From our daily member newsletter on October 5, 2016

Seeing difficult times as times of opportunity I suppose is a skill in and of itself. It is far too easy to see a job search as full of trials and tribulations. Of course, it is a difficult time, but it is also a time when if you are going to go through a change, it is a good time to sit and think about your future and what you need to do to be where you want to be. For most of our members it is my belief that this is a good time to bone up on your technology skills. Most of our members move from large companies to smaller firms. In these smaller firms you can be [ Read more… ]

The importance of responding to messages

From our daily member newsletter on October 4, 2016

I guess there has indeed been a total breakdown of law and order. Not only are many people ignoring their email, they are also apparently ignoring their phone calls. I don’t often make cold calls to support our consulting practice. Most of our clients in The FECG are actually members. And, all of our candidates for assignments are members, so I guess each of you in your own way have me spoiled rotten. Once last year I made over 50 phone calls to Private Equity Groups to generate assignments. I think I actually reached and spoke to only 3 people (other than administrative assistants), the rest of the time I went into voice mail. I’ve been in business with since [ Read more… ]

Rising tides

From our daily member newsletter on October 3, 2016

In chatting with members over the past few years, one hope frequently voiced has been a wish that the economy would improve. The basic theory is that a rising tide floats all boats. If I wait long enough, it won’t be all that difficult to find another job. Unfortunately, wishing won’t make it so. And, our political process is again up to its old antics of creating uncertainty, which is never good for business. My suggestion is to stop waiting for good things to happen and set about to make good things happen for yourself by rethinking what you want to accomplish with your job search and with your career over the next decade. Yes, I know a decade is [ Read more… ]

The importance of hobbies

From our daily member newsletter on September 29, 2016

I once worked for a division president who wouldn’t hire anyone who didn’t have a hobby. His theory was that your brain couldn’t be active and productive if you didn’t have something to think about other than work. While he admired those with “fire in their belly,” he was a man with hobbies. The two I remember best were road rallies and running. The road rally hobby was an interesting one. As I recall, he participated in the macho class where all you were allowed was a stop watch and a clipboard. The theory as I understood it was that you had to arrive at your destination and at several check points at a very specific time. Being able to [ Read more… ]

The incredible shrinking newsletter

From our daily member newsletter on September 28, 2016

Although it may (or not) be true that the recession ended quite some time ago, my own measure of what is ACTUALLY happening in the economy is the size of our evening newsletter. By this measure, the economy would appear to still be in the dumper, if I may use a technical term. The two most important things that I hope that all of you are making every effort to share are good news announcements and job leads. Good news announcements let your fellow members know that there are actually jobs out there. The theory is that if someone found a job yesterday, it is possible that through my sustained efforts, I may also find a job. It is a [ Read more… ]

The networking process

From our daily member newsletter on September 27, 2016

In the days of wooden ships and iron men, the determination of longitude was thought to be an impossibility. The simple problem was creating a clock that was accurate enough to keep track of what time it was in Greenwich, England. If you knew what time it was at a fixed point and you knew the time of what is called local apparent noon, you could through some complex mathematical calculations determine your East/West position. The science of all of this is a little long to go into here, but the short story is that John Harrison, the man who created the first accurate chronometer, was seeking a prize worth about $12 million in today’s currency. Not only did he [ Read more… ]

Gump happens

From our daily member newsletter on September 26, 2016

If only each of us had a crystal ball (highly polished of course) that we could call upon over the course of our lives. The problem is that we don’t. I once heard a very nice presentation on how to get a good start in a new job. Parachuting in at the top is always difficult, and the speaker did a good job in discussing the issues involved and how to deal with them. One of the issues discussed, as you might expect, was in doing a little due diligence before accepting an offer. If only this were the panacea it is always presented to be. Truth be told, we are more often put in a position in any job [ Read more… ]

Selling into a new industry

From our daily member newsletter on September 25, 2016

It is not unusual, and is perhaps typical, that members of The FENG would like to change industries. I wish I could tell you that this is easy. Unfortunately, I think the phrase “easier said than done” is applicable here. Of course, someone telling me that a project is impossible is always a good way to gain my interest and I hope yours as well. The trick is to understand the nature of the person with whom you are communicating and how best to “work them.” Now, nothing evil here, but an understanding of your “customer” and how they think about things is very much in order. When working with retained search firms and contingency firms, to a degree they [ Read more… ]

Projecting a winning attitude

From our daily member newsletter on September 22, 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. 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. What are your strengths and how can you solve their problems? It is very important at these times to have an explanation that satisfies the [ Read more… ]

A wealth of information

From our daily member newsletter on September 21, 2016

The first time I show someone a navigational chart their eyes usually glass over. There are so many detailed pieces of information and so many strange colors and symbols. It can be more than a little overwhelming. Most folks purchase charts in bound books covering specific geographic areas. The first problem is finding the chart you need. This can be done by studying the cover where the total geographic area is shown. On this page there are boxes with numbers indicating what page to use for each harbor of interest. After all these years, I’m not sure what stuff is obvious and what isn’t to the uninitiated. Water depth, symbols for various kinds of channel markers, and different colors for [ Read more… ]

The fine art of commiseration

From our daily member newsletter on September 19, 2016

It is, unfortunately, far too easy to fall into the trap of having a negative conversation with other members. While it is very important to have empathy for others, to get into extended discussions on the state of the world and how everything is hopeless benefits no one. The world is what it is. If I may quote from the movie “The Deer Hunter,” Robert DiNiro was heard to say “This is this.” The job market is what it is and each of us in our own way is what or who we are. (If you aren’t confused yet, please call me because I think I am starting to confuse myself.) Anyway, the point of all of this is for [ Read more… ]

The truth about jelly beans

From our daily member newsletter on September 18, 2016

Many years ago a college professor of mine related a story about one of his students who wrote a research paper about an experiment she conducted with an elderly stroke victim at a convalescent home near the campus. The basic premise of the experiment was that whenever the patient in question performed the appropriate behavior (and forgive me, but I don’t remember what that was), he was rewarded with a jelly bean. After the class had ended and the student had received her “A” in the class, she had occasion to see this professor walking through campus and stopped to say hello. In the course of that conversation she told the professor that she had a small confession to make. [ Read more… ]

Adapting in Darwinian fashion

From our daily member newsletter on September 15, 2016

I’m not sure if any of us really want to adapt to changing world conditions in true Darwinian fashion. That would require that only those of us with appropriate features survive to create the next generation. As human beings, we have the unique ability to adapt who we are and what we are to appear to be more suitable to current market needs. The problem is that most of us don’t take advantage of this characteristic. To begin with, your resume should have a traditional structure in order to be most easily absorbed. Our work history from most recent to least recent is how we must begin in presenting our credentials. And, rightly so. The details under each “work opportunity” [ Read more… ]

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