EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

Paint on a smile

From our daily member newsletter on May 26, 2016

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

Your real audience

From our daily member newsletter on May 25, 2016

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

Sharing job leads – a core value

From our daily member newsletter on May 24, 2016

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

Getting value from chapter meetings

From our daily member newsletter on May 23, 2016

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

A curious requirement

From our daily member newsletter on May 22, 2016

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

The sploosh syndrome

From our daily member newsletter on May 19, 2016

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

A reliable used car

From our daily member newsletter on May 18, 2016

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

Reading your own resume

From our daily member newsletter on May 17, 2016

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

Operators are standing by

From our daily member newsletter on May 16, 2016

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

How does it work in theory?

From our daily member newsletter on May 15, 2016

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

On becoming obsolete

From our daily member newsletter on May 12, 2016

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

Help me out – buy a ticket

From our daily member newsletter on May 11, 2016

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

The gift of friendship

From our daily member newsletter on May 10, 2016

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

Telephone sales

From our daily member newsletter on May 9, 2016

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

A “no wind” situation

From our daily member newsletter on May 8, 2016

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

What are your sizzle points?

From our daily member newsletter on May 5, 2016

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

When is enough, enough?

From our daily member newsletter on May 3, 2016

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

One step at a time

From our daily member newsletter on May 2, 2016

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

Are you selling the right stuff?

From our daily member newsletter on May 1, 2016

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

The quest for personal relationships

From our daily member newsletter on April 28, 2016

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

The Energizer bunny

From our daily member newsletter on April 27, 2016

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

Arrested but not convicted

From our daily member newsletter on April 26, 2016

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

Changing strongly held beliefs

From our daily member newsletter on April 25, 2016

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

The hidden job market

From our daily member newsletter on April 24, 2016

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

The world is a finite place

From our daily member newsletter on April 21, 2016

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

Search firm rules of engagement

From our daily member newsletter on April 20, 2016

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

This is no time to blend

From our daily member newsletter on April 19, 2016

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

Selling from a full wagon

From our daily member newsletter on April 18, 2016

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

I’ll leave the light on for you

From our daily member newsletter on April 17, 2016

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

Attention to detail

From our daily member newsletter on April 14, 2016

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

Is your job boring? Is there a cure?

From our daily member newsletter on April 13, 2016

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

Experience versus the energy of youth

From our daily member newsletter on April 12, 2016

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

How very incomplete of you

From our daily member newsletter on April 11, 2016

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

Square pegs and round holes

From our daily member newsletter on April 10, 2016

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

The three Musketeers

From our daily member newsletter on April 7, 2016

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

Getting started …. AGAIN

From our daily member newsletter on April 6, 2016

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

War stories

From our daily member newsletter on April 5, 2016

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

Call me Mr. Magoo

From our daily member newsletter on April 4, 2016

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

From desperation to real networking

From our daily member newsletter on April 3, 2016

Networking is a process by which you can create meaningful business contacts and relationships to further your career and enhance your professional life. It is unfortunate that many of us only become aware of the importance of networking when we first become unemployed. And then, many of us fall into our old bad habits of letting our hard won network go to seed when we find a golden “work opportunity,” quickly forgetting our two favorite mantras in The FENG. 1. All jobs are temporary. 2. You’re never working, you’re just between searches. For those of you who are students of psychology, I’m sure you are familiar with “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.” When you are stressed about a job search, you [ Read more… ]

The power of negative thinking

From our daily member newsletter on March 31, 2016

So much for the “little engine that could!” Give me an opportunity to obsess about some problem and I can guarantee you that not much will get done. First, I won’t be able to get a good night’s sleep, and then in my grogginess the following day, it will be suitably difficult to focus on any task. Basically, I may as well take the whole day off, or, the rest of the week! The best problems to select are those you can’t do anything about. The war in Syria, the economy, the presidential election, the fact that it is raining (or isn’t) – almost anything will due. Let this idea, whatever it is, take over your whole mind. Roll it [ Read more… ]

The reason you weren’t chosen

From our daily member newsletter on March 30, 2016

You would think that at this point in our lives our BS detectors would be well tuned. Unfortunately, when it comes to being rejected for a “work opportunity,” the “reasons why” we are given are more often than not taken as some kind of absolute truth. I am often asked by candidates for assignments I am handling for clients of The FECG, LLC (www.TheFECG.com) why they weren’t chosen. I wish I had an answer that provided some useful information. In the hundreds of assignments we handle in a year, I can count on one hand the number of times that a client has taken me through the entire batch and given me explanations why this one or that one wasn’t [ Read more… ]

You’re in my files

From our daily member newsletter on March 29, 2016

There are so many urban legends associated with job search that I generally don’t know where to start when I talk to new members. Since I get calls every week from members of the search community, I thought I would take a few minutes tonight and discuss the reality of your resume being on file with a particular recruiter. First of all, it is very easy these days to blast your resume out to lots of recruiters. Even if you lack a mail merge program such as the one I use to send out the newsletter, sending out a few hundred resumes by email is no big deal. Anyone can do it, and lots of people do. You can even [ Read more… ]

Sticking with a bad situation

From our daily member newsletter on March 28, 2016

Deciding whether or not to stick with a job you have just taken is a difficult choice indeed. Whether your job search has been long or short, the realization that you have made a mistake is enough to cause you sleepless nights. I know because it happened to me. After 9 years as CFO of an advertising agency (not exactly a walk in the park) and almost two years of unemployment, I had a short tour of 5 months as CFO of a firm in Connecticut. I now refer to this as the job from hell. (Or, for the more sensitive among us, the job from heck.) Anyway, sitting here tonight, it is hard to understand what made that job [ Read more… ]

Is industry experience overrated?

From our daily member newsletter on March 27, 2016

For those members out of the buggy whip industry, changing industries is exactly what you have to do. It is for all of you that I dedicate tonight’s editorial. (You may substitute your industry if you prefer. It can also be true that you just don’t see much local opportunity in your industry and that you don’t want to move.) The battle cry of “industry experience required” is a disheartening one to see in a job posting. It was amusing to say the least that at the beginning of the Internet bubble they were looking for Chief Financial Officers with 10 years of Internet experience who had successfully taken one of these little puppies public. (Yes, you can’t make this [ Read more… ]

Can you find me a job?

From our daily member newsletter on March 24, 2016

I’m not sure why people tend to lose their common sense when it comes to job search, but they do. Were it not for this tendency, the organizations that feed on the unemployed wouldn’t exist. And, try as we might to put them out of business, new miscreants arise out their ashes. I fully understand that job search is a stressful time in your life. I was out of work for two years, and the word stress doesn’t even begin to cover it. And, much like a person being rushed to the emergency room of your local hospital in an ambulance, you feel at times like those experts who are taking care of you must know best. I only wish [ Read more… ]

Building a theme song

From our daily member newsletter on March 23, 2016

Since 1997 when I began as Chairman of The FENG, I have been listening to 90-second announcements at our meeting here in Westport. My best guess is that I have heard at least 10,000 of them over the years. I guess you could say I can speak with some authority on this subject. (And no, my ears haven’t fallen off as a result.) Like most financial types, I do much better reading information than listening to it. If you handed me your pitch I would be better able to absorb it, no matter how you had structured it. What you are working against is the fact that speech is the slowest form of communication. (Smoke signals might be slower, but [ Read more… ]

The pot of gold

From our daily member newsletter on March 22, 2016

I often get the feeling from talking with members about their job search, that many of you are reluctant to use our Member Directory Search feature to full advantage as part of your job search. I only wish I understood why. The FENG membership directory is honestly the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It is a gold mine to all who delve into its many mysteries. It is a research tool and a resource that probably has no equal in the civilized world. (There I go again understating the value of our membership directory.) All other professions can eat their hearts out. Members of The FENG have agreed to open their good offices to one another, [ Read more… ]

You’ve been looking how long?

From our daily member newsletter on March 21, 2016

During the interviewing process we frequently get asked questions for which there is no good answer. I have my favorites of course, but having been out of work myself for almost 2 years back in 1991, the one I will address tonight is “Why have you been out of work so long?” (What a silly question. It’s because I haven’t found a job!) Now back in 1991 it was generally accepted that the country was in a recession. Still, after almost two years, it was a question that came up in interviews. And, it can come across as a tough question even when it begins as it does today with “I know the job market isn’t very good, but how [ Read more… ]

Selling into job leads

From our daily member newsletter on March 20, 2016

Job leads can be a tremendous resource for you, even if you aren’t interested in them. I know it sounds silly, but although most job leads aren’t going to interest you for one reason or another, it can still pay to read them. The most obvious problem with specific job leads is that they aren’t in what you define as an acceptable geographic region. That said, job leads are targets. By taking each and every job lead that you find of interest, geography aside, printing it out and studying it, you can easily advance your job search. In the “bad old days” of 1991 and 1992 when I was unemployed, it was still traditional to take your finished resume down [ Read more… ]

A sense of inner calm

From our daily member newsletter on March 17, 2016

When jobs are winding down, it can be very difficult to “keep it all together.” I’m sure we have all been there. During that final period of time, whether it is 3 weeks, 3 months, or even longer, as “the forces of evil” overwhelm the organization you have worked so hard to make profitable, it frequently appears that everyone turns on you. It really isn’t so hard to see why it is so stressful. As a person of integrity, my guess is that you have been doing your best to make the organization, your peers and your boss as successful as they can be. So, when they turn on you, it is hard to accept. Keep in mind that you [ Read more… ]

Dinosaurs can’t dance

From our daily member newsletter on March 16, 2016

Several years ago I got a note from one of our members of long standing complaining about the value of the leads in our newsletter. It was a well written message that cited chapter and verse about his experiences and I read it with great interest. Consistent with the experience of most of our members, this particular individual had been between jobs 3 times since joining The FENG, including the current search which wasn’t over yet. (As you know, you are never actually working, you are just between searches.) Although very careful in selecting positions to answer (qualified members only), he has on several occasions almost immediately gotten a response to one of his resumes telling him the job was [ Read more… ]

A new job on Monday

From our daily member newsletter on March 15, 2016

A few times each month I get a good news announcement from one of our members that begins with: “Please stop the newsletter, I am starting a new job on Monday.” It is at these times, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Starting a new job on Monday and already this individual is ready to disconnect themselves from our august body. Gosh, don’t you think he/she should at least wait until some of those paychecks clear? Sometimes they provide their new business card information, but sometimes they don’t. When they do, they sometimes conveniently leave off their new office phone number. In effect they are saying: “It was nice knowing you when I needed you.” I try not [ Read more… ]

Charles Darwin slept here

From our daily member newsletter on March 14, 2016

Although you wouldn’t know it from the influence it had on his thinking, one of the little known facts is that Charles Darwin actually didn’t spend all that much time in the Galapagos Islands. The Galapagos Islands cover a rectangle of about 125 miles from North to South and about 175 miles from East to West with about 13 significant islands and many small ones. As I understand it, Charles was only there for several weeks. And, instead of a cruise ship making about 15-20 knots with a rubber dingy powered by a 48 horsepower outboard on a preplanned tour, he was in a boxy square rigged ship with a few oar powered boats for getting to the islands. I [ Read more… ]

And playing the role of Matt Bud

From our daily member newsletter on March 13, 2016

One of the more difficult aspects of job search is the need to “play a role” that is not necessarily in keeping with our mental picture of ourselves. The question of “Who am I anyway?” comes up on a daily basis. If we are no longer employed or even if we are, the position description or the job we are responding to or the interview we are engaged in may require a total rethink on our part. If we have been Chief Financial Officer of a firm and “in command” but we are now competing for a Controller’s slot, our “less than subservient manner” may cause us to lose a position for which we are well qualified and one in [ Read more… ]

Putting your life back together

From our daily member newsletter on March 10, 2016

No matter what the crisis, it is a natural human instinct to try to put your life back together again. When it comes to the end of a long job search, the instinct is no different. Understand that you have been in crisis. And, the crisis probably didn’t begin at the exact moment you lost your job. Most likely there was also a period of time prior to that when you were preparing for the possibility of a search. In terms of a life crisis, job search ranks right up there. Talk about having to put your life on hold and doing without. When your income drops to zero, the necessary belt tightening can’t help but affect you, especially if [ Read more… ]

Before you hit send, think

From our daily member newsletter on March 9, 2016

One of those things about being on a boat that isn’t well understood by those of you who spend most of your time on dry land is what I call the sploosh syndrome. As a backyard mechanic, I have dropped nuts and bolts on the ground from time to time while working on my car, and though they might be hard to find in the dirt or the grass, if you search long enough and hard enough, you just might find them again. On a boat, however, most things dropped over the side are gone and will never be seen again. Sure, if it is big enough and you dropped it off the boat at the dock, you could have [ Read more… ]

The original unfair question

From our daily member newsletter on March 8, 2016

One of the worst and rudest questions any job seeker is asked is what the minimum salary is that they would accept. Although there is a file out on our website filled with tough interview questions, this one ranks up at the top of ones I would avoid answering directly at all costs. Hard to know if this is a question expressing serious interest in your credentials or if it is just a scare tactic of sorts to see whether or not you will blink. One thing you should know is that “the first liar never stands a chance.” If you allow yourself to go first, you have potentially locked yourself into accepting a salary level that you were honestly [ Read more… ]

Creating value from a negative

From our daily member newsletter on March 7, 2016

The story goes that my grandmother had a marble statue. When it came time to break up housekeeping she decided that this was something she would sell. She thought it would be a good idea to clean it up a bit, but in the process managed to knock off one of the fingers on the hand of the maiden with the bucket. When a prospective buyer came to view this rather unusual piece of art, he was taken with it almost immediately. However, as he examined it closely, he discovered “the flaw” and mentioned it to my grandmother, who without missing a beat told him that this was what showed its age. A product benefit was created from a potentially [ Read more… ]

Catch 22

From our daily member newsletter on March 6, 2016

In one of my recent editorials I “beat the drum” about being overly specific on your resume. Generally speaking, one must be very careful about the use of “jargon” on a resume. Arcane and sometimes what we assume are well known computer programs like SAP are not so well known by those reading resumes. In the book Catch 22 (if memory serves) there was mention of the fact that the world is always looking for specialists, and indeed they are. For some opportunities, the knowledge of programs like PeopleSoft, or even QuickBooks for smaller companies is EXACTLY what gets you the job. As it has been said, if you’ve got it, flaunt it. (If you don’t have it, cover it [ Read more… ]

How to be a Fanatic FENG’er

From our daily member newsletter on March 3, 2016

As I mention from time to time, The FENG is a NETWORKING group. It isn’t a job board. Just as Kermit the Frog found out that it isn’t easy being green, no one ever said it was going to be easy being a member of The FENG. Membership in our little society comes with a price. Sure, your cash contributions are helpful in keeping our website lights on and our administrative staff paid, but the real price I hope all members are willing to pay is in always having their “good offices” open to other members, no matter how busy they are. Many members are afraid to ask for favors. Let me put you at ease. Please know that in [ Read more… ]

Don’t shoot the piano player

From our daily member newsletter on March 2, 2016

If job search is one thing, it is stressful. The uncertainty, the very idea that others are sitting in judgment on your credentials without you there to defend yourself, can all work to cause you to over react to situations. My first job out of the Army in 1971 was in retailing at B. Altman & Company. A fine institution dedicated to customer service. They would take ANYTHING back. I understand that on more than one occasion they took back merchandise that they didn’t even sell to the customer who was complaining. Still, there are those customers who wouldn’t be happy if they got double their money back and if the manager and all of the employees at the store [ Read more… ]

Networking is a contact sport

From our daily member newsletter on March 1, 2016

The FENG, as our name implies, is a networking group. I know some of you may be fooled from time to time by the fact that we publish job leads, but please don’t be confused. The sharing of job leads is an act of friendship, plain and simple. As much as we make every attempt to make the job leads we publish in our newsletter appropriate to our membership, and as much as we try to get them out to you within 24 hours, and as much as we try to encourage you to get recruiters at search firms and in human resources departments to post with us, the fact remains that 85% or more of you will find your [ Read more… ]

A sharp pencil

From our daily member newsletter on February 29, 2016

When it comes to writing, there is no more powerful tool than a sharp pencil. I long ago declared war on unnecessary words. Why? Because they are unnecessary. The normal space allotment for a resume is two pages. Okay, if you have to go to three I might be able to live with it, but generally two is the limit. If you make it three, make it three full pages, not 2 ½. It is not much space to describe the accomplishments of a lifetime, but you are making a mistake if you think it is necessary to describe each and every thing you have ever done. If you are as old as the hills like most of us, there [ Read more… ]

Bad first impressions

From our daily member newsletter on February 28, 2016

It is an old saw that “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.” Although I write about email from time to time, it hasn’t really improved what I am getting from all of you, but I know change comes slowly to us financial types. In an effort to bring the point home a little clearer and perhaps build on the real issues involved in email, I will add a few more thoughts tonight. When I first started The FECG with Bruce Lynn and Doug Fine in 1999, I knew I just had to have a cell phone because I would be out of the office a lot. Well, not really true anymore. I am amazed [ Read more… ]

How quickly skills are lost

From our daily member newsletter on February 25, 2016

The snow storm that hit Connecticut several weeks ago is to a degree, long forgotten. Except for a few odd places, there isn’t even any snow on the ground. It was all very exciting, at the time, but one thing I would share with you is that I never go out on the first day of a big storm. (And, sometimes not on the day after either.) It goes well beyond my well founded fear of hitting a tree or something. I grew up poor in Northern Indiana and logged many a mile on snowy and ice packed roads in an old car much in need of new tires. I got pretty good at driving on slippery surfaces. Still, why [ Read more… ]

A point in time

From our daily member newsletter on February 24, 2016

One of the very lovely things we do in our family is spend several days each summer at the Mystic Seaport Museum in Mystic, Connecticut. And, if luck is on my side, we get to be there on the 4th of July when the excitement is palpable. What is unusual about this museum is that it is a living museum. Most of the ships in their exhibits are in working order, not able to actually put to sea, but they do have sails on their yards. The sail handling demonstrations are very real. You can even participate if you have a mind to do so. (I always do.) As a sailor, it is easy to put yourself back in the [ Read more… ]

The value of free advice

From our daily member newsletter on February 23, 2016

There is, of course, the old saw that free advice is worth what you paid for it. That said, it has been my experience that some of the advice I have paid for over the years was worth less and in some cases was worthless. (Notice the interesting play on words.) I think the operative expression when it comes to the advice you receive is “consider the source” and also consider the motives of those passing out the advice. The FENG is awash in “free” advice. Still, I hope that you will take very seriously the words of wisdom that are contained in our evening newsletter and use that which you believe to be valid to great advantage as you [ Read more… ]

A focus on the people

From our daily member newsletter on February 22, 2016

More and more when I talk to members considering job opportunities, the question comes up about how to choose between two similar situations. Of course, any two situations are never totally similar. There are always obvious differences in responsibilities, titles and compensation. And, if one of the jobs isn’t local, the situation becomes even more complicated because of family situations involving relocation. If you have been made an offer, chances are they like you. People in a position to choose who THEY want to work with are normally selecting between two or more specific individuals who may both be technically competent to do the job. When push comes to shove, they usually go for the person they want to potentially [ Read more… ]

It’s always about you

From our daily member newsletter on February 21, 2016

There was a very silly movie that came out several years ago with Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts called “The Mexican.” The most memorable scene if you recall the advertising for the movie has Julia Roberts standing on a balcony throwing Brad’s clothes at him and screaming “It’s always about you!” For many people who are job searching, they seem to take the same approach. In the world of give and take, you give and they take. Let me be clear. I was unemployed for almost two full years and I understand the stress that job search causes on you and on your family. Being unemployed is probably worse than having root canal. Never having had a root canal, I [ Read more… ]

Maintaining the consistency of multiple databases

From our daily member newsletter on February 18, 2016

I’m not sure if all of you are aware of it, but The FENG is driven off of the ONE database we maintain of your directory listings. Our RSVP system and The FENG Forum all derive their usefulness from being driven off this primary source of information and never have to be synchronized. Here at world headquarters, we have many sneaky ways of keeping your directory listings current. For example, every message you write to me or to one of our administrative staffers is checked against your directory listing. That is why I preach frequently about your having an outgoing signature. It allows me to ensure that you will remain properly connected to your fellow members. We also have a [ Read more… ]

Some amazing things

From our daily member newsletter on February 17, 2016

Should I ever retire to do stand up comedy, I can assure you that I have more than enough material to keep any audience in stitches for hours. As Chairman of The FENG for the past 20 years, I have to tell you that I always thought that things would improve, but now I know (sadly) that they won’t. Here are a few things that fall into the category of either “I don’t know whether to laugh or cry,” or “You can’t make these things up.” 1. Some people don’t know how to spell their own names. Hard to believe, but every week there is at least one new member applicant who is incapable of completing their information without at [ Read more… ]

Buggy whip manufacturing

From our daily member newsletter on February 16, 2016

For those members who are looking for a job just like the one they had, it may be time to take a good hard look around and see if this is a practical problem. Like the buggy whip manufacturers of old, some jobs and some industries are just not coming back. If you are in one of the hard struck areas of expertise or industries, what practical game plans are there? Not an easy question, but if it was easy, I wouldn’t be addressing it as tonight’s editorial. First, I have to ask you to believe that you must have acquired some transferable and applicable knowledge during your long career. The problem in evaluating your own information is that you [ Read more… ]

Reads and follows directions

From our daily member newsletter on February 15, 2016

If asked, I would be the first person to suggest that posted job leads are not where you need to focus your energies. That said, anytime you do respond to one, it pays to take a few minutes and actually read the posting and see what the requirements are. No, I am not talking about the job requirements themselves. After the first few sections you know whether or not the job is “you.” Still, you might want to give it a hard read with respect to must haves if for no other reason than to ensure you are sending the right resume if you have several versions. And, if it is “spot on” your background, it may even pay to [ Read more… ]

The Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus

From our daily member newsletter on February 14, 2016

I hope that none of you still believe in the Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus. In much the same vein, I hope that all of you are smart enough to know that there is no job board with an exclusive list of job leads. And, anyone trying to sell you job leads should be viewed with suspicion. If you think my comments about the value of job boards available to you for a fee are harsh, my thinking about the free boards isn’t much better. While there may be job leads available on some board that you haven’t seen elsewhere, the real question to ask yourself and to ask your friends is do any of you know anyone who has [ Read more… ]

Why Sundance wouldn’t jump

From our daily member newsletter on February 11, 2016

For those of you who remember the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, there was a memorable scene where Butch and Sundance were cornered on the edge of a cliff and the only way out was to jump into a river and float away. As you may recall, Sundance was reluctant to jump, and only with much prodding did he confess to Butch that the reason he didn’t want to jump was that he couldn’t swim. In an effort to reason with him, Butch at this juncture pointed out to him that the fall was probably going to kill him. Impressed with this logic, the two of them proceeded to jump. Fortunately, the movie didn’t end at this point [ Read more… ]

A gasoline rag tune up

From our daily member newsletter on February 10, 2016

Many years ago I had to buy my son a car to get to school. So, we went down to the local used car lot and I spotted a Ford Escort. It was kind of cute. If memory serves, it was black and it was a stick shift. Having grown up poor, I wasn’t new to buying a used car. I opened up the hood and the engine was spotless. I was kind of surprised given the number of miles on the car and when I asked about it, the dealer told me he had steam cleaned the engine. Among the many things he told me he fixed was that he had replaced the windshield. Hard to sell a car [ Read more… ]

A shortage of CFOs-finally!

From our daily member newsletter on February 9, 2016

For those of you who are avid readers of The Wall Street Journal, something I have been predicting for some time has finally come to pass: There is a shortage of CFOs. (Keep in mind, however, that I also predicted 10 of the last 3 recessions.) The article can be found at the bottom of page B1 in the Tuesday, February 9, 2016 edition and is titled: CFO Searches Drag On As Demand Takes Off. To quote Peter Crist, chairman of recruiter Crist/Kolder Associates. “Every CFO I am talking to is in a conversation with another recruiter or a private-equity firm.” While the focus of the WSJ is on primarily public and very large firms, I would suggest to you [ Read more… ]

Successive approximations

From our daily member newsletter on February 8, 2016

In the accounting mindset, there is only one answer. The books either balance or they don’t balance. I guess this is what I have always found so satisfying about our craft. Ah, the symmetry of it all! Artists as well as other creative types on the other hand seem to have a problem with this concept. For them, there are lots of possible answers to each and every question, some of which contradict the others. How untidy, don’t you agree? As we move away from our core skill of certainty into the world of marketing our backgrounds, it is hard to make the conceptual break. Not only is there not one right resume, there is no right 90-second announcement and [ Read more… ]

Coming in second

From our daily member newsletter on February 7, 2016

It can be very frustrating to be told that you were number two. It gives you the feeling that if you had only done something different, presented something in a different way, (worn matching socks) the job might have been yours. If it happens to you more than once, it kind of makes you feel like you are “always the bridesmaid, and never the bride.” But, do you really know if you truly were number two? Perhaps you were number three or four. You just really don’t know, and frankly, IT DOESN’T MATTER. As I have often been heard to say “Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.” Being the first choice is the only thing that wins the [ Read more… ]

Do the “experts” know anything?

From our daily member newsletter on February 4, 2016

I have observed over my life that most of the people identified as experts are wrong a very high percentage of the time. In much the same way that a clock that has stopped is right twice a day, some acknowledged experts are identified by the media as genius only because they inadvertently made a correct guess at just the right time. Sometimes they have even been right despite themselves, but that never gets discussed. Consider all the data that is constantly being collected on the supply of oil and the demand for oil. How is it possible that no one saw the huge price decline coming? How many of you are old enough to remember the saying “it came [ Read more… ]

Little white lies

From our daily member newsletter on February 3, 2016

Sad to say, a lie is a lie is a lie. Some would also argue that the withholding of important information is also a lie. I believe this to be the truth and you probably do too. One would have to wonder then why those of us of the accounting profession who pride ourselves on “no surprises” and never telling a lie, feel the need not to show college graduation dates, and if we are really old, some of our first jobs. I would have to ask those who do these things if they would ever hire someone they thought was hiding something about their background. I tend to think not. If you are telling a little white lie or [ Read more… ]

Taking job specifications seriously

From our daily member newsletter on February 2, 2016

I just don’t think that I will ever see in my lifetime a job specification that calls for a minimum of 30 years of work experience. If you ever see one, I do hope you will send it my way so I can frame it. For those of us who are “well experienced,” it can be a difficult decision applying for a job that only calls for 8-10 years of experience. As in the age old question of “How many men does it take to turn in a light bulb?,” at what point can someone early in their career be considered for a job as a Chief Financial Officer or Controller. And if this is all the company feels is [ Read more… ]

Why you left your last job

From our daily member newsletter on February 1, 2016

When they stopped paying me, that was bad enough. But, when they had the security guard escort me from the building and dumped my few personal belongings on the sidewalk, I decided enough was enough. I just wasn’t going back to work at THAT place anymore. If you have a sense of humor and think you might be able to carry it off, the use of humor to explain why you were “booted out,” terminated, down sized, or just plain fired, please feel free to use my opening paragraph. That said, I doubt that it will work for most people. I get the sense from most of the folks I have heard explain why they left their former employer that [ Read more… ]

I will work for food

From our daily member newsletter on January 31, 2016

Given that for senior level jobs, there are apparently more folks looking for work these days than there are jobs, I’m sure some of you have been seriously considered for jobs that paid less than you were previously earning. As an experienced sailor would tell you; any port in a storm. Unfortunately, there is always a bit of disbelief coming from across the table that ANYONE would work for less than they earned before and not bolt for the door once the economy picks up. My own experience has been that this is not what financial folks do. However, telling someone you will work for food, is probably taking their employment offer a little too far. First, let’s do the [ Read more… ]

Selling what’s in the wagon

From our daily member newsletter on January 28, 2016

As the length of time grows since your last “assignment,” the battle cry that is heard more frequently is the need to reinvent yourself. I’m not exactly sure how one can REALLY do that. As my Grandmother used to say: “I am who I am.” The question I would pose to you is, are you sure you have looked at everything in the wagon to be sure you are selling everything that’s there? Clearly, the economic principle of highest and best use applies to your career just as it does to those things that we call consumer products. If you are a Manufacturing CFO, a job in a manufacturing environment theoretically is going to produce the best results for you [ Read more… ]

It’s all in the preparation

From our daily member newsletter on January 27, 2016

According to a survey that Bruce Lynn completed a few years ago in his role as Chief Operating Officer of Chapter and SIG operations, only about 30% of our members have ever been to a chapter meeting. In a word, those of you who have never attended a meeting of The FENG are missing out big time. (And no, we don’t wear funny hats or actually have a secret handshake. That is just an ugly rumor.) Chapter meetings are the friendliest gatherings of human beings that you as a member of The FENG can ever imagine. And, to make them even friendlier, we have created a series of tools on our website to make your meeting experience as beneficial as [ Read more… ]

Looking for a job in secret

From our daily member newsletter on January 26, 2016

While many things in this electronic world we live in are a lot easier, keeping your job search a secret isn’t one of them. My wife reminded me recently of the hours I used to spend at my typewriter during the 1980’s responding to job ads. Yes, there was a time after candles were replaced with light bulbs, but before the typewriter was replaced by the computer. And, I guess I should also mention that the Internet hadn’t been invented yet. (Al Gore hadn’t completed his work.) If you thought looking for a job was difficult, looking for one in secret is even harder. Some organizations frown severely on individuals looking for another job. Not that they go out of [ Read more… ]

The art of getting up again

From our daily member newsletter on January 25, 2016

You have to kind of feel sorry for folks who have never been unemployed. I know it may sound strange to say this, but if you have never been knocked down, you may not know that not only will you get up again, but that you may be a better person in many ways when you do. I hope that members of The FENG know this. If you have never known defeat, you may think you are invincible. But, we should know that NO ONE is invincible. At some point everyone you know experiences a major setback in their lives that shakes their world to its very core. Early in my life I envied many of the people I came [ Read more… ]

Any excuse will do

From our daily member newsletter on January 24, 2016

Since about 90% of our membership is male, I hope no one will be offended if I let you all in on a little secret – most men don’t have a lot of friends. I am not altogether certain why that is, but it really doesn’t matter because making new friends is actually a lot easier than most people think. If you think about all of the folks that you have gotten close to over the years, I am sure you will find some common elements in their characteristics versus yours. Sometimes it is a “birds of a feather flock together” thing and sometimes it is more like “opposites attract.” The point is no one really knows why couples fall [ Read more… ]

Past, present & future

From our daily member newsletter on January 21, 2016

I have often said that a member’s visualization of his new job is his last job on his last day. In a sense, how could it be any different? As accountants, we value our history more than anything else. This “rear view mirror” approach to life is one of the many things that can cause us to limit our view of our present and of our future. To use a well worn phrase “we don’t know what we don’t know.” The view of the future is clouded. The view of our past is in sharp contrast by comparison. Our work history is hard won. By saying this, I don’t mean to diminish in any way shape or form the skills [ Read more… ]

I’ve got you covered

From our daily member newsletter on January 20, 2016

I am fast coming to the conclusion that most people don’t understand the purpose of a cover letter. Either that or I am greatly confused. My little window on the world is The FECG, the consulting practice that I share with Doug Fine and Bruce Lynn. With any luck, several times a week, alumni members of The FENG engage our services to find them a full time, part time or interim person. (Please visit our website: www.TheFECG.com if you want to learn more about us.) Since the only folks we consider for our assignments are members of The FENG, I get an “up close and personal” view of what “outsiders” are most likely receiving from our membership. I hope you [ Read more… ]

Stone soup and job leads

From our daily member newsletter on January 19, 2016

For those of you not familiar with the story of stone soup, I would encourage you to go to: http://www.extremelinux.info/stonesoup/stonesoup.html (Is the Internet great, or what?) It’s not a long story, but it explains in easy to understand terms how you can turn nothing into something, and that is what I am about to suggest we do. At one time, our evening newsletter ran anywhere from 120 pages down to (on bad nights) around 50 pages. Ah yes, those were the halcyon days of job leads. And, back in those good old days, we only had about 20,000 members on distribution for our newsletter. We now have over 37,500. Since 1996, we have registered a little over 11,000 Friends of [ Read more… ]

Cheap tricks that don’t work

From our daily member newsletter on January 18, 2016

In today’s job market, everyone is trying to create a little edge for themselves so they can beat the competition. I know that none of you are actually the source of these ideas. However, there are a lot of “so called” career counselors out there who try to create perceived value by introducing you to what I call “cheap tricks” that in my opinion just don’t work. My assumption is that if you weren’t so stressed by this whole job search thing, you would agree that these approaches are just not smart. For our very well experienced senior level audience, the primary one appears to be leaving off your early work history. The theory is that by doing so, you [ Read more… ]

Is the glass half full?

From our daily member newsletter on January 17, 2016

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 difficulty of being a friend

From our daily member newsletter on January 14, 2016

I often refer to The FENG as a circle of friends. In a very real sense, the power of The FENG is our interconnectedness, and if that isn’t friendship I don’t know what is. Were it not a true fact that we have reduced 6 degrees of separation down to less than 3, networking within our little family wouldn’t be as much fun as it is. (I hate false facts, don’t you?) Anyway, I don’t know how many of you remember “The Millionaire,” (I think it was on in the early 1960’s) but it was about a guy who was hired by someone very rich to give away checks for $1 million. You would think that would be easy, but [ Read more… ]

Running the high hurdles

From our daily member newsletter on January 13, 2016

Between reviewing new member applications and going over candidates for assignments with The FECG, I spend a lot of time reviewing resumes. What continues to amaze and astound me is how difficult most folks make determining the key elements of their background. Basic stuff, like where they have worked and for how long, where they got their degrees, what industries they have worked in, and from time to time, even where they live – all require reading between the lines. Unlike most resume reviewers, I wasn’t born yesterday. (I also am not as old as the hills, but I have been around the block a few times.) Having “wasted” my life reading The Wall Street Journal and Fortune magazine, the [ Read more… ]

The great white elephant sale

From our daily member newsletter on January 12, 2016

As everyone I hope knows, a white elephant is something that appears to be useful, but actually has no real value. It takes up a lot of space and basically eats you out of house and home. Anyone with a garage or attic knows the kinds of things folks tend to hang onto, because all human beings hang onto this stuff. Your old Apple IIe (which still works), your IBM XT (which also still works – it replaced the Apple IIe), your turntable (even though the needle is shot and you threw away all of your records), etc., etc., etc. Oh, I forgot the workshop with its coffee cans full of left over parts and “spares.” Why is it we [ Read more… ]

The consummate professional

From our daily member newsletter on January 11, 2016

The title of this editorial is actually: “The consummate professional in an electronic world,” but I thought that was a little long. As senior financial professionals, we tend to stay in our jobs a long time. Up until I was 46, I only had 3 jobs. Who you are and what you are tends to be known by other members of the organization, especially if you are the Chief Financial Officer, or in some other senior level management position. Even when you are not in the room, people feel your presence. Because you hold the checkbook and most likely have the ear of the CEO, knowing who you are and how you think about things is vitally important to those [ Read more… ]

Horns of a dilemma

From our daily member newsletter on January 10, 2016

In the things that we do to communicate our background to others, we are at all times challenged by the need to generalize while at the same time being very specific. It is in all honesty, no easy task. And, it is easier said than done. If for example, you are trying to change industries, your 90-second announcement and your resume need to be “generalized,” by which I mean all of the industry specific language needs to be removed and put in terms that will sound familiar to others. Anyone from the advertising business knows the difference between agency income and commissionable billings. “Commissionable billings” is sort of a list price for media, but advertising agencies actually pay net. The [ Read more… ]

Handling customer objections

From our daily member newsletter on January 7, 2016

The sale of big ticket items through personal selling is never easy. When you buy a tube of toothpaste, a pack of chewing gum, or a box of #2 pencils, hopefully you don’t spend a lot of time either thinking about it, or fussing over the details. But, when it comes to buying something like a car, a boat or a house, the devil is in the details. Each of us at this point in our careers is a big ticket item. For any application of our talents, we are just as likely to have too many “buy points” as not enough. Lots of “objections” are raised during an interview process these days. Some of them are serious objections, other [ Read more… ]

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