EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

“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 a tee.

One of the many counter intuitive ideas I would share with you is that if you have been doing a little networking within your “assigned” industry, (the one you would like to never return to) you should have a good sense of what other industries represent a good fit, and the reason why.

The general idea is that if you want to escape, others do as well. No reason to get an Excedrin headache trying to figure this out when you have so much brain power available to you within our circle of friends. If you make the effort to talk to 25-50 members from your industry and add them to your brain trust, you will have a good story to tell about why you fit.

If you don’t explain why your lack of specific industry experience isn’t an impediment you will immediately be placed in the discard pile. In classic selling terms, you have an obvious customer objection and you need to deal with it in an intelligent manner.

Collecting 25-50 specific resumes from your industry can also have the advantage of providing insights as to appropriate industries to consider.

There are always patterns in the careers of senior professionals. I moved from records to broadcasting to book publishing at CBS and from there to advertising and then back to publishing. The link, in part, was the creation and sale of intellectual property. However, I could just as easily moved after being Chief Financial Officer at an advertising agency into being Chief Financial Officer of a law firm. Both enterprises involve large numbers of individuals with huge egos and the billing and collection from clients as opposed to customers.

The threads are usually there, and as a financial person, you are accustomed to detecting patterns. If you examine enough data you will see the patterns and they may provide ideas you can apply to this issue.

Of course, the most important eternal truth is that you need to work and earn a living. Do your research and work those explanations to a high polish and any job you feel can represent a fit will be yours for the asking.

Regards, Matt

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