EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

Tilting at windmills

From time to time, I have been accused of tilting at windmills. Actually, I am never offended when I hear this because in large part everything we do in The FENG has elements of it, and I’m proud of it.

It has indeed been a long road developing The FENG. Most importantly, I haven’t had to do it alone. I have had the support of a huge number of “Fanatic FENG’ers. We are now the largest organization of our type in the entire world. It’s not too shabby, having had only 63 members at the end 1996 to now have over 50,000 members nationwide and around the world. We are indeed a force in the world ALREADY and yet growing every week. But, what’s it all about?

The FENG is a national organization of primarily CFO’s, Controllers and Treasurers. (There are lots of other categories, but I am trying to simplify, so please forgive me.) It may or may not come as a surprise to you, but we are a disadvantaged species. We shouldn’t be, but we are.

Most of us are often viewed as too old, over qualified or previously too highly compensated to be considered for any job. This is the “windmill” against which we tilt every day.

I can’t begin to tell you how many conversations I have had over the past several years preaching the benefits of “been there and done that” with the search community. I often feel like I had a great secret revealed to me and it appears I am the only one who knows its essential truth. Since there are only a finite number of people in the world, I know that sooner or later I will have the opportunity to educate each and every person about the great value I see among our membership of well educated individuals with good work histories.

What is “over qualified” anyway? To me it means you can do the job with little or no supervision. Why that might be a bad thing is a little puzzling, but then it is clear that the “outside world” has a lot of strange beliefs.

I have been told that to hire a more senior person is foolish because when the market improves they will move on. Although I might ask “Move on to where?,” the truth is that someone who is early in their career is MUCH more likely to move on when the market improves.

I also hear that companies want to hire folks who will be around for a while. This often leads me to ask: “Just how long do you expect this job to last?” Let’s see, if you are 55 and plan to work until 70 if your health holds out, that is 15 years. We should all live and be well and find a next job that lasts 15 years.

I tell companies and recruiters that if my many friends who might appear to be “over qualified” know the money on the table and the location of the job and STILL apply, everybody wins. Their client gets a VERY high value employee. (If you are over qualified and willing to work for less than you have earned before, I think one might argue they are getting a bargain.)

So, I hope you will join me in my ongoing crusade to educate the world. Tilting at windmills is a lot of fun, especially with good companions to aid in the fight.

And, when a windmill turns out to be a real objective that is worth conquering, so much the better!

Regards, Matt

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