EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

During every recession, there are typically specific industries that experience more declines than others. One of the truths about the job market is that in any piece of time, one or more industries are usually singled out “for punishment” and lots of folks in those industries lose their jobs all at the same time.

For those of us who remember the dot.com bust, pre-bust if you weren’t working for a dot.com you were considered stupid. Post-bust, having been at one proved you were stupid. As they say, you can’t have it both ways.

Not much you as an individual can do about industry cycles. If you were a mortgage industry financial professional, it is pretty clear that a large number of the individuals who did exactly what you did also lost their jobs in 2008. As in the movie Airplane, you picked a bad time to give up sniffing glue.

The advantage that most financial folks have is their transferrable skills. Debits and credits don’t vary a whole lot. Fortunately, income statements still have a bottom line and balance sheets balance. (Hope you don’t mind a little accounting humor to get us in the right mood.)

The goal is to find something else to do. Sure, it is always possible to find an identical job. And, one might argue that under the “best use” economic theory, doing that will maximize your value in the marketplace. While it is possible, in a situation where there is going to be a lot of competition, it might be smart to come up with a different approach.

The best way not to get a severe headache over this whole thing is, of course, networking. But, it is networking with a slightly different purpose. How can you best apply your skills? Perhaps you have a few ideas. As they say, two heads are better than one. This is the time to use our Member Directory Search feature and call other members of The FENG who are just like you.

It may appear to be counterintuitive, but consider that you are calling the “smartest folks in the room.” You know what they do and they know what you do. No long-winded explanations are needed. If everyone puts their heads together to create alternatives, you are bound to come up with a lot more than you might come up with on your own. No situation is totally hopeless.

Starting with the positive is that you have a good education and marketable skills. The industry specific skills, if you analyze them carefully will always have applicability elsewhere.

I was Chief Financial Officer at an advertising agency in the early 90’s. When I lost my job, that industry was in the dumper. While I didn’t find a job at a law firm, or an engineering firm, these industries were on my radar screen as appropriate places where I could practice my people management skills. Like advertising agencies, they are places filled with individuals who have egos as big as all outdoors. They also have client relationships. They also weren’t in the dumper.

Now you can’t go crazy and throw yourself into a TOTALLY different industry, but there are always related industries where an analogy could be made.

If that fails, one might also make a skill set analogy. Those managing portfolios for high net worth individuals have relationship management skills that might be applicable to some very different industry. One of our members, for example, went into selling high end real estate.

The important thing to reinvention is to create several tracks. When you are making a change in industry or how you are applying your skills, at least initially, cast a wide net.

While I like you exactly as you are, I just might like your reinvented self even better.

Regards, Matt

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