EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

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… ]

I’ve got you covered

From our daily member newsletter on September 14, 2016

We can all get a lot of help writing resumes. There are even lots and lots of very good books and articles on this topic. Still, the first thing most recipients read or at least glance at is your email/cover letter. As bad as most of the resumes I see are, the email/cover letters are often worse. We are all kind of stuck with the fact that in this electronic world, the email message you send with your resume IS your cover letter. And, please don’t attach two files. In any case, no one has time to open and print two files. Attach your resume and be sure to name it with the standard of LastNameFirstname.doc. Don’t under any circumstances [ Read more… ]

Approaching networking contacts

From our daily member newsletter on September 13, 2016

Since The FENG has been built by friends introducing friends, I imagine that as an organization we are probably more sensitive to networking abuses than most people. Still, I thought it might be helpful if I took a little time tonight and suggested a few ways to go about this delicate process of asking others for favors. Let me start you out with the simple philosophy I call “Asking for the world’s smallest favor.” As you think about the networking contacts with whom you are about to communicate, consider the range of requests you might make and try to pick ones that don’t push the envelope too far. For example, you wouldn’t ask someone you don’t know to put your [ Read more… ]

Eating elephants

From our daily member newsletter on September 12, 2016

Unless you buy your mustard in 55-gallon drums, and have some very sharp knives, eating an entire elephant can be a formidable task, not unlike the task facing you at the beginning of a job search. There are so many things to do and all of them appear to be urgent. In addition, they all appear to be unstructured. Unlike the monthly closings and analytical work that followed at your last job, the best approach and the approximate time required to do them is unknown. It can leave you feeling like a “deer in the headlights.” (In case you haven’t noticed, I thought I would try some animal analogies tonight.) When I was working on my Master’s thesis (oh so [ Read more… ]

Do you know who I am?

From our daily member newsletter on September 11, 2016

There is an extended joke I heard quite some time ago about a “gentleman” who was standing in line at an airline ticket counter trying to get on an over booked flight. In a demanding voice he uttered the above words at which point the ticket agent got on the PA system and announced that there was an individual at her counter who didn’t know who he was. If anyone recognized him, she would appreciate it if they would come forward. At times, this job search thing can be really discouraging if for no other reason than those we are communicating with don’t know who we are. By that I mean they don’t know how important we are. (Or is [ Read more… ]

Communicating your special value

From our daily member newsletter on September 8, 2016

One of the most challenging aspects of looking for a new “work opportunity” is having enough introspection to know what your special value is to a potential employer. I’m afraid that in most cases, we’re the last ones to know. When we do our 90-second announcements at our chapter meeting in Westport, I usually have the appropriate resume in front of me. I am always checking to see if the 90-second announcement matches the resume. Interestingly, sometimes there is more on the resume than in the 90-second announcement, and sometimes the reverse is true. More meat and delightful factoids are in the 90-second announcement, but nowhere to be found on the resume. Although it has been said that many of [ Read more… ]

Fog, rifles & shotguns

From our daily member newsletter on September 7, 2016

The current job market continues to throw a large fog bank over the senior executive job market. Not just us financial types, but all college educated, well experienced executives are struggling with defining who they are and what they do to somehow match what they believe to be the opportunities out in the world. When you are stuck in a fog bank as I have been from time to time (normally smart enough to be anchored at the time, but sometimes not), you can frequently hear other boaters running around you off in the distance. The hope is that they won’t come near your vessel and run into you at high speed. You see, there is an element of panic [ Read more… ]

10 seconds or less

From our daily member newsletter on September 6, 2016

Based on the resumes I see on a daily basis, I am not sure there is full appreciation for the amount of time any reviewer gives to your carefully crafted opus. The sad truth is that unless the information presented has a clarity greater than the other documents in that stack of 100-500, it can easily be passed over even though you MAY be the most qualified person in the pile. Think long and hard about any of the speed reading that you do starting with the morning newspaper. I sometimes feel sorry for the reporters who have slaved over the stories I skip because I have been unable to find even one word of interest to jump up and [ Read more… ]

Proof of the pudding

From our daily member newsletter on September 1, 2016

One of the many fine traditions we have in The FENG is the sharing of job hunting tips. I have to tell you that recently the job hunting tips haven’t been coming across as frequently as they used to. No, it isn’t that we have heard it all. New things are brought up frequently. The problem is primarily the nature of who we are and how we perceive the success or failure of the approaches we have taken in our search. The “proof of the pudding” to many of our members is that they found a job. The problem with that standard is that most likely they wouldn’t be unemployed. They would be nose to the grindstone and shoulder to [ Read more… ]

Giving up as a concept

From our daily member newsletter on August 31, 2016

One of the more interesting ideas floating around these days is giving up. I can’t say I am an expert on this topic, other than to say that I have heard about it at length from others. Not that they have actually bought into the idea; just that they were talking about it. As you all know, I am a sailing buff. As such I indulge myself in good sailing stories from time to time. Some of the most memorable have been the ones about those who have had to abandon ship. Although the sailors rule is to “always step up into a lifeboat,” there often comes a time when you have to grab your “abandon ship bag” and do [ Read more… ]

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… ]

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