EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

A compelling summary

From our daily member newsletter on February 28, 2017

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… ]

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

From our daily member newsletter on February 27, 2017

One of the most disconcerting aspects of looking for a job is that you often get the feeling that people aren’t treating you with as much respect as you deserve. I could be wrong, but I think that those of us who have been senior level financial executives may have a tougher time dealing with this problem than others. All during the time we are working there is a line of supplicants outside of our office. (Oh, Matt, please send my vendor a check. Please Matt, won’t you take a minute and approve my expense report. Matt, I really need more money in my budget for next year.) Then, boom, you are out of work and there just aren’t as [ Read more… ]

Just give me the middle line

From our daily member newsletter on February 26, 2017

According to Google, double entry accounting was developed around 1300AD. Shortly thereafter, someone came up with the expression: “Just give me the bottom line.” No one ever talks about the middle line. I have often wondered about that. Haven’t you? I don’t know about you, but as good accountants and Chief Financial Officers I thought our goal was to prepare comparable financial statements. Documents that not only were accurate and reflective of the organizations we were helping run, but also consistent in format month after month so that our “customers,” all of those non-financial types, would know where to look for the information they required. (I know I prided myself on those year after year matching binders with matching tabs.) [ Read more… ]

Networking is easy

From our daily member newsletter on February 23, 2017

I am never surprised when a member tells me that he isn’t good at networking. As financial professionals, we tend to “come with the woodwork.” In any major corporation, the accounting department is usually where you will find most of the longest service employees. And, it is not only our staff that tends to stay, but us too. As you may know, I was in the advertising business for 9 years. I had occasion to chat with a friend of mine who was an art director at another agency. Although I had only worked at 3 firms when I was 46, he at the same age had worked at 25 different agencies, some of them twice. The need to develop [ Read more… ]

Saying thanks

From our daily member newsletter on February 22, 2017

One of the gag gifts that my wife got once was a “Stress Busters” calendar. Since she couldn’t find a place for it on her desk at work, she gave it to me. (I suppose it was one step away from the garbage pail.) Since I got it after the start of the year, I was able to fast forward through some of the dumbest suggestions for relieving stress known to mankind. That is until I got to one that read: “Make a list of everyone who has made a positive contribution to your life, and send each one of them a greeting card to let them know how they have made an impact. You’ll feel good as you write [ Read more… ]

Who am I anyway?

From our daily member newsletter on February 21, 2017

Since 1991 (when I was out of work for the first time in my career), I can’t begin to even estimate how many 90-second announcements I have heard. I also can’t tell you how many I have given. It is an interesting process to be sure. When I was in the Army back in 1969, the “Who am I” question was always answered by some description of what you did when you were “back on the block.” Since many of us didn’t want to “own” what we were at that moment in time, it was logical and comfortable to refer back to civilian life. In college, the “Who am I” question was usually answered in the present. You were your [ Read more… ]

If you are going to bother

From our daily member newsletter on February 20, 2017

I have often been heard to say that job leads have no value. That’s why we share them. It’s not that they have NO value, it is just that their value is limited to you as an individual (you have to be a perfect fit) and that their shelf life is extraordinarily short. I would also argue that to a very great degree, your resume stands alone. By this I mean that it provides the primary tool by which you are going to be evaluated. Others may disagree, but I read resumes first and cover letters second. If you are going to win the day, the key elements in the requirements shown in any job posting should be on your [ Read more… ]

Networking-The NFL approach

From our daily member newsletter on February 19, 2017

A lot has been written over the years and in this newsletter about the do’s and don’ts of networking. In his book, Rites of Passage, John Lucht talks about the NFL approach to networking where you block and tackle your networking contacts and hold them down until they come up with at least 3 names. I hope that those of us in The FENG never take this approach, especially when it comes to other members. Still, with 40,000+ members, some of our approaches to “networking FENG style” need to be repeated. There was an article in the New York Times a long time ago that several members called to my attention. The title was “Hiring? You’re Everyone’s Best Friend.” It [ Read more… ]

Enlightened self interest

From our daily member newsletter on February 16, 2017

Given that the newsletter is still a little short these days, I thought I would repeat and expand on some thoughts I have had over the years as to why we share job leads. If I may quote from our website: The basic purpose of our group is to give individuals who have been Chief Financial Officers, Controllers, and Vice Presidents of Finance, Treasury, Tax, or Mergers & Acquisition, an opportunity to share job leads with their fellow financial executives. We make every attempt to provide leads that are useful by inviting members of our network to participate in leads in which we are ACTIVE candidates. While at first blush this approach may appear counterintuitive, the value of any lead [ Read more… ]

Impacting the lives of others

From our daily member newsletter on February 15, 2017

Over the course of our own lives, we are often unaware of things we have said and done that have positively affected the lives of those we know. A moment of caring. A word of advice. Sometimes just listening when that is needed. For the person on the receiving end, it just may be something that they will replay in their minds for the rest of their lives. One of my closely held beliefs is that everyone wants to help, but not everyone knows how to go about it. Part of what we do in our little society called The FENG is teaching each other how to accomplish this very important mission. What I hope we all be able to [ Read more… ]

Facilitating communication

From our daily member newsletter on February 14, 2017

I don’t know how many of you go for humorous movies. There aren’t too many good ones, but when there is a good one, the part I enjoy the most is “the running gag.” In the movie Airplane, for example, Lloyd Bridges playing the part of McCroskey starts by saying: “Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue!” He then continues variations on this theme throughout the movie. Here at world headquarters the running gag is “This calls for Matt’s secret decoder ring!” You see a lot of folks are apparently unaware of the importance of providing their name anywhere in the messages they send. In addition, there just is no substitute for providing your phone number, [ Read more… ]

The clock is always ticking

From our daily member newsletter on February 13, 2017

As accounting professionals we always remember to ask: “What is the deadline?” The problem is that when it comes to job search, a deadline is often not indicated. I am sensitive to this little quirk that is apparently hard wired in the minds of my many friends, and for this reason, job leads posted by The FECG always include a deadline. How long do you generally have to respond to a posting? I would say the window for most jobs is between 15 minutes to 48 hours. A lot depends on where it has been posted and the nature of the response address. If it is a temporary mailbox on Hotmail or Yahoo, I would lean toward 15 minutes. No, [ Read more… ]

Maintaining a positive attitude

From our daily member newsletter on February 12, 2017

Having a positive attitude at ALL times is the most important thing you can do in life. And, not just when you are job searching. But is it really possible to maintain a positive attitude ALL the time? Well, I suppose not, but it never hurts to try. If you are having trouble from time to time maintaining that winning smile of yours, DON’T call anyone or see anyone that hour or that day. My Grandmother used to say: “The worm that lives in the horseradish thinks the whole world is horseradish.” The analogy for your search is that if you only call others and meet with others when you are able to maintain a positive persona, they will come [ Read more… ]

90 second announcements

From our daily member newsletter on February 9, 2017

One of the more difficult conventions to master of our many traditions is the 90 second announcement. Still, once you have mastered it, it can pay big dividends because it is the perfect answer to “so, tell me about yourself.” Let’s start out with my favorite mantra: Speech is the slowest form of communication. (As you know, I’m married to a speech pathologist, so I really do know these things.) You honestly can’t cover a lot of details in 90 seconds so you have to pick and choose what you want to say. And, how you say it is also important. Body language and delivery is every bit as important as the words themselves. Your first objective is to get [ Read more… ]

The easy button

From our daily member newsletter on February 8, 2017

Staples, the office supply company, had an “Easy Button” that they sold in their stores several years ago. (I think they still carry it.) I worked on an assignment for Staples a few years ago and although we didn’t place anyone with them, their Human Resources contact sent me an Easy Button as a gift. (WOW!) The TV commercial they ran at the time featured people in various difficult work situations lifting up a cover plate and finding an “Easy Button.” Apparently, whatever the task, this easy button got the job done for you. Since I have had one on my desk, I have found it really does work! (Yeah, right.) Now, if only they could invent an “Easy Button” [ Read more… ]

The excuse you can’t cure

From our daily member newsletter on February 7, 2017

If you really need to get someone you are interviewing off the phone or out of your office, there is no better approach than to use what I call “The excuse you can’t cure.” In the annals of job search, there is no better tool. No one gets mad. No one screams. No one hits you. (This is especially important.) The beauty of “The excuse you can’t cure.” is that the victim doesn’t feel a thing. In fact, he/she usually accepts the problem as his or her own, not yours. This tool plays itself out with comments such as “If only you had a CPA.” Well, if you don’t have one, you certainly aren’t going to get one by tomorrow. [ Read more… ]

The fine line

From our daily member newsletter on February 6, 2017

To call or not to call, that is the question. To write or not to write, that is the question. When is enough, enough? (Or perhaps you should just show up in person and demand to see someone?) At what point do you move from showing your persistence and tenacity to just being a pest? Well, the truth is, I don’t know. I do operate on the principle that if you don’t ask, you don’t get. It comes from my many years as Chief Financial Officer of an Advertising Agency trying to collect bills from our clients. How often I heard the story: “I was just about to put your check in the mail.” Oh sure, now that I called. [ Read more… ]

Networking-A navigation problem

From our daily member newsletter on February 5, 2017

Acting as captain and primary navigator for a sailboat as I do is challenging at times. Back in the old days before I had a Loran or a GPS unit, life was much more difficult. Step one in navigation is to get out a chart of your local area that hopefully has both your starting point and your end point. On Long Island Sound, although you can sometimes draw a straight line between where you are and your destination, more often than not you need to do a little zigzagging to avoid the rocks. (Just so you know it is always a good idea to avoid rocks.) Since space is limited tonight, we will avoid the problem of your destination [ Read more… ]

Guns blazing

From our daily member newsletter on February 2, 2017

Have you ever had the feeling that the world was against you? How can I tell you this? It is. To be a member of our august body you need to have at least 20 years of work experience. You also need to have held a senior level title and earned at least $120k per year. Most of our members have a lot more experience and have earned a lot more. You would think this would be a good thing, but you would be wrong. Okay, if you are at the lower end of our membership in terms of age and/or compensation, many of my remarks are not entirely correct. But, if you are in your late 40’s, early 50’s [ Read more… ]

Acquiring knowledge

From our daily member newsletter on February 1, 2017

One of the things you learn pretty quickly in sailing is that “Mighty Mouse” is not going to come to your rescue if you get into trouble. Sure, there is a “AAA” type of service for boats, but the risks out on the water and the timelines for help getting to you are always significant. In the early days of our sailing as a family, we certainly had our share of misadventures. And, although we do more and go further than we used to, the tall tales I tell tend to have happier endings. Over the 35+ years I have been sailing, I have acquired a wealth of knowledge and I am at all times delighted to share what I [ Read more… ]

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