EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

It sure is difficult to be focused. As each of us over the age of 40 looks at our career prospects for the rest of our working lives, it is all very easy to believe that we need to expand the market for our services to ensure that we can find another job. (After all how many buggy whips are made anymore?)

However, after 20 some odd years in the work force, the likelihood is that you have acquired some very specific skills. Even with 30 more years of work to go, the odds of finding employment that is radically different than what you have been doing is not high. Although it is possible to do so, the most probable solution is that you will find a different career that has some strong link to what you were doing.

In the movie “My Cousin Vinny,” Marisa Tomei says to Joe Pesci when he comments on her style of dress: “Yeah, and you blend.” When it comes to job search, I would suggest to you that this is no time to blend.

The 90-second announcements I hear that begin with things about how you are just like everyone else in the room are really a waste of time. You are different AND you need to be different.

I think you will agree that the world is filled with a lot of problems. My guess is that you have learned how to solve some limited number of them. If you are a manufacturing type, trust me, you have skills that I could learn, but never have. My area of expertise is professional services firms. I was Chief Financial Officer of an Advertising Agency for a near decade, and the unique individuals who populate these kinds of organizations can be difficult to manage and motivate, especially if all of them think they are YOUR boss.

This is what I do. What do you do? What are all the skills you bring to the party that make you unique. You may diminish your many skills if you like in your typical “awe shucks” manner, but being modest when you are trying to market your talents is honestly not a good idea.

Being all things to all people is the same as being nothing to anyone.

Rather than trying to find common bonds with those around you, why don’t you give some considerable thought to what you do that is different. Some of the ideas you come up with can be marketed effectively to those potentially needing your services. And, they may not even be from your industry.

We are fortunate that our skills as financial folks are inherently transferable. But the approach to marketing them in other venues is to highlight their strength in the one in which they were created. You can in a very real sense allow others to draw their own conclusions about how what you know can be effective in solving their problems.

If you give a clear enough explanation, the people on the “other side” will ask you if their problem, which they will take the time to illuminate, can be solved with your “tools.”

Be something specific and you will find that others will find you more interesting.

Regards, Matt

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