EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

There was an article in The Wall Street Journal several years ago that made the following points:

1. The unemployed are damaged goods
2. Recruiters prefer finding those who are not actively seeking new jobs
3. Networking groups are of little value

While to a degree I hesitate to take exception with this esteemed periodical, I must point out that the first two issues are not news. Anyone who has read John Lucht’s book “Rites of Passage” would already know that recruiters have an inherent prejudice against those who are unemployed and are generally speaking charged with stealing someone from a competitor. That’s why they get the “big bucks.” Hence, those who are unemployed are not really of interest because they can’t be stolen. As far as being “damaged goods” you have to admit that most of our members have had too many experiences not to be damaged from their perspective. The words “over qualified” come immediately to mind.

The whole idea of members of our august body promoting themselves exclusively to the retained search community I have always viewed as a waste of time. Recruiters are only interested in you if you are an exact fit with what they have on their plate at the moment. And, what are the odds of that?

While many networking groups are of little value, The FENG is in a class by itself. We routinely get early postings of searches from well-respected firms. The question you might want to ask is why?

The answer is actually simple. As with any other problem, there are solutions. The one we use in The FENG is to make our service free to the search community so they don’t hesitate to send us job leads. We then are at the head of the line. Perhaps more importantly is the bond we have with one another. As a society of friends pledged not to “abuse the system,” the response most recruiters who provide us with city location and compensation information get is an extremely well qualified one.

No good deed goes unpunished. In this case, qualified responses generate more leads posted in our newsletter by these same firms.

The incredible scale of The FENG makes us hard to ignore. With over 40,000 members, we are the largest networking group of senior financial executives in the entire world. If you want to quickly find qualified candidates, you really need to come to us at some point. If you don’t, we are likely to find out about it anyway. It is just really hard to keep a secret from so many aggressive job seekers.

As in the fable of the 6 blind men and the elephant, it all depends on where you’re standing.

Our networking group is of great value because we generally are looking for jobs at mid-sized companies who don’t use recruiters. These firms are looking for “been there and done that” types like all of us and since they don’t have all the tools that major search firms have, we have a better chance of “stumbling” into them just when they are coming to the conclusion they need one of us. This will happen if and only if we do our networking properly.

Passive job searching is for those who want to stay unemployed longer. All you have to do is spend every waking moment reading job leads and very little time doing targeted networking. It’s easy I suppose, but not as effective as the hard work involved in networking.

As you know, networking is our middle name. This is not a coincidence.

Regards, Matt

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