EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

I know there are some members who have been “in the hunt” a long time and may feel that they are getting “a little long in the tooth.”

I can understand the problem since I was out of work for almost two full years – 1991-1992.

Tradition has it that if you are still at work, your most recent job can be shown as 2005-Present. If you are no longer there, it would be shown as 2005-2016.

You may argue that your likelihood of getting called about a job is lessened if you are no longer employed, and that may be true. I frankly, don’t know if it is or it isn’t. I would suggest that the more difficult issue to overcome is if you actually get called in for an interview and are asked if you are still working. At that point, you have sort of told a lie. As a potential financial officer for some firm, I think that getting caught telling a lie is something from which your candidacy will never recover.

Like any other delicate subject, you are in a better position if you address this subject before you are asked.

The reason I say this is that you can better control the conversation. Being asked a question like “How long have you been out of work?” is going to throw you off your game no matter how politely it is asked and no matter how well prepared you are to answer the question.

I guess we all feel that if we are out of work more than three months, we have something to be ashamed of. Friends, this simply isn’t true.

As you get more advanced in your career, it just gets harder to find an appropriate job. We tend to think like we did when we were in our youth and our whole career was on a growth track. Heck, we were going to the moon! Now as a senior financial professional, you are more likely to be making a more lateral kind of career change, and those are harder to pull off.

In addition, later in our careers, we are more likely to have personal constraints with which we have to deal. Either a working spouse with a good job limiting the places we can move. Or, kids in High School. Or, aging parents entrusted to our oversight.

All of these issues and many more can delay our finding another job. And, all of this ignores the very weak job market in which we find ourselves.

My basic suggested approach is to be honest. (That shouldn’t be difficult for us financial types.)

Your resume shouldn’t show months of employment in any case and hopefully in most cases that will cause some easy hedging. However, if asked or if you decide to bring it up, make the answer simple and DON’T make any excuses. Be matter of fact about it.

A simple “I have been out of work for about 6 months,” plays a lot better than some long winded “primarily due to, partially offset by” that is our stock-in-trade.

If it is true, offer up that you have been doing some consulting work. Or, perhaps you have taken a few courses to sharpen up those skills. All of these are good things to say, but don’t “time dimension” them. Let the person across the desk from you use their imagination.

As long as you are truthful, nothing you say will come back to bite you in the “you know what.”

As far as how long is it okay to be out of work, the sad truth is that it isn’t okay to be out of work for even a week. I don’t know how the world expects everyone to instantly find a new job with a 6-figure income, but they do.

So, you need to do your best to put a good face on the length of time you have been out of the game, but if you do it on your own terms and say it in your own way, I think you will come out the best.

If members have suggestions for this “delicate subject,” please send them to Leads@TheFENG.org and Leslie will put them in a follow-up newsletter.

Regards, Matt

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