EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

One of the problems with being a senior financial executive is that we have all the answers.

We have, for good or bad, “been there and done that.” Frankly, it is hard to conceal that knowledge and experience in an interview.

Call it “overqualified” or whatever name you like, but it is difficult to imagine ANY job that at this stage in your career represents a huge challenge. Most likely, it will only occupy a portion of the many skills you have acquired over the years. There are so many things that only happen once or twice a year, and if you have 20+ years of experience, you have likely seen them 30 times or more.

So, what’s a person to do?

I wish there was an easy answer. We have been trained to sell the wonderful product that is us, but although we are capable of hitting 150 MPH in under 30 seconds, what if the job in question only requires 60 MPH in under 30 minutes?

Back in 1992, Ed Devlin (the previous chairman of The FENG) and I were at an ExecuNet meeting and the topic was “over qualified.” I whispered to Ed that if I were told that I was over qualified, I would look them straight in the eye and say “You know, I am not really as competent as you think I am.” Well, Ed made me tell everyone in the room, and as you can imagine, it took several minutes for everyone to regain their composure so the meeting could continue.

Humor does help when you are considering a job that you can easily do but which the individual on the other side of the table thinks will bore you. But only use it if you can make it work for you. I am a goof at times and I can make it work. How can you be convincing, when clearly you have done so much more in your recent career?

The idea that anyone would consider a lateral career move or a step down is typically inconceivable to anyone who has not been unemployed. So, you have to understand the mindset involved and learn to sell into it.

I am open to comments from other members on this topic, but let me start off our thinking by suggesting you first try to understand what the “customer” on the other side of the table wants to buy. What is the monkey they are trying to get off their back and can you assure them that you can do it? (I know you can, because I know you can do anything!)

The next step is to get them from “here to there.” You need to accept the fact that you are going to have to convince them that you will be happy in this job. It is an open question that is “hanging out there.” They may not be able to find a way to politely ask you if you would really be “willing to do windows,” but you need to accept that they need an explanation.

It is the first thing that a salesman learns, handling customer objections, even when they haven’t given voice to them. You just have to know that they need an answer.

In keeping with our many traditions here in The FENG, make your answer brief so you don’t fall into the “the maiden doth protest too much” syndrome. A simple “I need to work so we can buy food this week” will more than get the point across.

Responses should be sent to Leads@TheFENG.org so Leslie can publish them in our Notes from Members section.

Regards, Matt

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