EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

I have had several at length conversations with members from financial services organizations over the years. Fortunately, or unfortunately for me, I have no experience working at a bank, insurance company, capital markets firm, or asset management organization. As a result, I have been somewhat hard pressed to help in the challenge of creating an appropriate focus for their job search activities.

The best thing that can happen to anyone looking for a job is to find an identical job with another firm. As in my case, if you were Chief Financial Officer of an Advertising Agency, become a Chief Financial Officer at another Advertising Agency. That is clearly your highest and best value added. The business is identical and your acclimation to it is limited to learning a new list of clients and employees. Duck soup.

Most of us are not so fortunate. The whole reason most of us change jobs is that the industry we have so enjoyed is going through violent change. If those of you in financial services think you are being singled out for special punishment, please keep in mind that many of our members were thrown out of work when the Internet bubble burst. These kinds of things happen to new industries and to old line industries without prejudice.

For those members with long careers at one firm, the problem is even more severe. When you are constantly experiencing a satisfactory work environment, there honestly isn’t much incentive to even think about what it is you do every day and why it is you get paid the big bucks. Why bother when there is so much work to do and so many career opportunities at your current firm that they keep recruiting you for?

Then, suddenly and without warning, you are downsized, laid off, or any of the many other terms used in polite society to identify the reason why you are now out of work.

Now you have time to think.

There is a saying in common usage that “two heads are better than one.” Fortunately for members of The FENG, you can usually find a lot more than two heads without too much difficulty and I suggest you start there. (Hint: Visit our website and use our Member Directory Search feature.)

The process of redefining who you are and how you could bring value to a new employer can best start by talking to folks who actually understand what you do. Some of them may already have been giving it some thought. Why give yourself an Excedrin headache? If you were a Mortgage Banker, let’s face it, there still isn’t a lot of demand out in the market right now. And, even where there is demand, there is a lot of supply.

None of this changes the fact that you have to find gainful employment. You will find that if you focus on all of the things you have done and think broadly about the experiences you have had over your long career that there actually was a reason why they were sending you a payroll check. And, you will find that more than a few of the valuable experiences you have had are applicable in other industries.

While the challenge of coming up with answers can be facilitated by speaking with others, please know that the final decision, if there actually is such a thing, rests with you.

Only you know where you would be willing to move (if that becomes necessary), how far you would be willing to commute, what kinds of people you would be willing to work with, and what kind of work you are willing to do.

These are not decisions anyone else can make for you. The task of redefining yourself is a difficult one, and just like the classic “deciding what you want to be when you grow up,” it is a process about which you can change your mind constantly. And, I suggest you do.

There is no right answer, and there is no final answer. Often, there are more questions than answers. But, hey, if life were so simple, it wouldn’t be so interesting.

Regards, Matt

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