EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

Fog sandwiches

From our daily member newsletter on July 18, 2018

Although by and large, the one thing we make more often than anything else for dinner on our boat is reservations, there are times when the fog giant descends upon us and if there is nothing else to eat, we make fog sandwiches. To make fog sandwiches, of course, you need fog. To this one should add bread, mayonnaise (if you are making a fog sandwich with chicken or turkey), and mustard or ketchup (if you are using roast beef). The type of bread is your choice. I prefer fog sandwiches made on whole wheat, but that’s just me. The problem with fog sandwiches is that the fog portion provides no recognizable flavor or for that matter substance. (Unlike smoke [ Read more… ]

Hard on the wind

From our daily member newsletter on July 10, 2018

Since not all of the members of The FENG are sailors, I really need to start this editorial with the idea that you can’t sail directly into the eye of the wind. In fact, you generally have to be about 45 degrees off the wind to make any headway. However, this is only a real nuisance at those times when the wind is blowing from where you want to go. Sailing as close as you can to the eye of the wind is called being “hard on the wind.” As exhilarating as sailing hard on the wind may be to us die-hard sailors, it has an entirely different effect on those who are only putting up with your hobby. You [ Read more… ]

Just showing up

From our daily member newsletter on June 18, 2018

There are several folks who claim credit for it, but one of the things I have been heard to say from time to time that I didn’t make up is that “90% of life is just showing up.” (Okay, perhaps it is only 89%. Whatever!) As we begin the months of the well respected summer doldrums, I would ask all of you who are around when meetings are taking place of our various chapters and special interest groups to make a special effort to show up, especially if you RSVP for a meeting. I have to tell you that setting up a meeting requires a lot of hours on behalf of our many hard working chapter and SIG chairs, and [ Read more… ]

Your hidden assets

From our daily member newsletter on June 14, 2018

Almost all of the resumes I see are from members or new member applicants. What is surprising is how much trouble some folks go to disguising their seniority and great skills. It is my belief and I hope to make it yours as well, that the most important thing you have to sell is your wealth of experience. There are so many things in this world that only happen once or twice a year, and most of our members have seen them anywhere from 20-40 times. Like a song you keep hearing on the radio, even if you don’t sing well, you are bound to know the words and can easily hum a few bars. Hiding this important asset of [ Read more… ]

Free advice

From our daily member newsletter on June 12, 2018

I guess the old saw is that free advice is worth what you pay for it. The other popular expression I use from time to time is “consider the source.” There is a whole “guy thing” about the giving of unsolicited advice. In much the same logic as the old saw about guys not asking for directions at the gas station, it is often difficult to find the right words to offer up advice to members when it isn’t requested. I, of course, see a lot of resumes. With such an obvious huge overview of the “resume landscape,” you would think that anything I said about a member’s resume would be gratefully received, but alas, it isn’t so. Unlike most [ Read more… ]

A career in marketing

From our daily member newsletter on June 11, 2018

Just as they should require finance and accounting courses for the members of the other professions in this world, they probably should require more marketing classes for the members of our profession. The question we are always trying to address, whether we are looking for work or currently employed is: Who are our real customers and what is it we are selling them? This isn’t a question that is as easy to answer as it might appear. Not being marketing professionals we often mistake cause and effect. What is it we do for the rest of the organization? Unless you are always thinking in marketing terms your “product offering” is not going to be well received because you haven’t defined [ Read more… ]

Staying hidden from view

From our daily member newsletter on June 6, 2018

I often wonder if people really want to be found. It ranges from the lack of an outgoing signature with your FULL contact information on the emails I receive to answering machines that repeat your phone number when I call, but don’t indicate whose phone it is. The latest wrinkle is not putting a physical address on your resume. I’m not sure what to make of all of these obstacles people put in front of others trying to reach them. There apparently is a major outplacement firm recommending the deletion of home addresses. The fear is identity theft. While I would never recommend you put your date of birth and/or your Social Security number on your resume, I feel very [ Read more… ]

The illusion of time

From our daily member newsletter on June 4, 2018

Although this problem was more common several years ago when there were more corporate layoffs, I still from time to time see members waste the first 6 months of their job search. It’s not that they “goof off,” it’s more that they feel they have the luxury of time. As a sailor, I can assure you that time and tide wait for no man. Neither does the job market and more importantly the marketability of your career. Among the many things I hope are communicated in our newsletter are all the things you shouldn’t waste your time doing. Things such as mass mailings to recruiters or contacting accounting firms and lawyers you may know are generally not a good use [ Read more… ]

Moving down market

From our daily member newsletter on May 23, 2018

I have often been heard to say that it’s always better to be working. Being overqualified for most of the jobs published out in the world can be a little unsettling. But, I think you just have to accept it as a fact of life that once you have 20-30 years of work experience, you have probably done everything at least once. The new and exciting part of your work life is now in doing the same things you have done before, but with different people and in different companies. The model that most of us have in our minds is based on our experience. (What else could it be based on?) The experience for many of us baby boomers [ Read more… ]

Are we a support or resource group?

From our daily member newsletter on May 22, 2018

Like the classic fable of the 6 blind men standing around the elephant, The FENG means a lot of different things to individual members. In part it is dependent on where they are in their career, whether they are active in a search, or if they are currently employed. It can also vary on any given day. Of course we provide support for one another. But, I like to think that the support we provide isn’t the “do it for you” kind, but rather it is our unique ability to be a resource for one another that makes the difference. The FENG comes fully equipped with extraordinary resources for our members. And, other members provide them all. It is sort [ Read more… ]

A fine line

From our daily member newsletter on May 20, 2018

The difference between being viewed as possessing dogged persistence and being an outright pest is hard to define. Like beauty or obscenity, I guess we know it when we see it. I have had many jobs over the course of my career, some paid, some volunteer that have involved collection work. When I was Treasurer of my congregation for 4 years, one of my jobs was to collect outstanding dues owed by members. It was delicate work. In the urban legend in this world, those who didn’t pay on time or not at all were suspected of trying to get away with something. The truth was enough to break your heart some nights when I made phone calls. Very few [ Read more… ]

Rain or shine – you can’t do much about it

From our daily member newsletter on May 16, 2018

I don’t know what the weather has been by you lately, but here in Connecticut we have had a very cold and damp spring. One thing you learn if you are a sailor is that there really isn’t much you can do about the weather. The wind is from whatever direction it is coming from and at whatever speed it chooses. All you can do is manage your vessel to take best advantage and, if need be, change your plans. A few days ago I got a note from one of our members seeking to raise the issue of “Is a CPA needed to be a CFO?” Or, at the very least, the question was, is it being required more [ Read more… ]

Beginnings, middles and ends

From our daily member newsletter on May 10, 2018

I spend a lot of time thinking about what makes the job search process so maddening and one of the many conclusions I have come to is its lack of structure. (Someone should really redesign it!) Unlike all of the other projects we may have in our career as financial folks, this one may have a beginning and it may have an end, but it is the middle that makes us crazy. Hard to know at any point in time where exactly you are on the continuum. You know you have started when you begin your job search either because you have been terminated or know you will be soon. And, you know when you have ended, because you have [ Read more… ]

Keeping hope alive

From our daily member newsletter on April 26, 2018

Whether you are currently working and hate your job or are currently in active search mode, the most important job you have every day is maintaining an optimistic view of the future. The stresses and strains of a job that is winding down may at times seem beyond bearable. Back in 1991 during the last several months before the advertising agency where I was CFO lost our largest account, the back biting and back stabbing among the “leadership group” reached incredible proportions. So too, job search itself is filled with highs and lows. The highs are always diminished by the possibility that the job offer you fully expect to get never comes. The lows when you have no interviews scheduled [ Read more… ]

Having the wind taken out of your sails

From our daily member newsletter on April 23, 2018

Conducting a job search, whether working or not currently employed, can be a difficult time. You tend to go through phases. (I don’t know if I like the phrase “in transition,” but it seems to continue to be well accepted.) At first it can be kind of exciting to be away from the daily grind of a job. If your last job was anything like the ones I was fired from, it was actually a relief of sorts not to be there anymore. And, there are new things to learn and skills to polish. Who ever thought that any of us would strive to be great writers of resumes, and who ever thought that we would get to enjoy making [ Read more… ]

You talkin to me?

From our daily member newsletter on April 17, 2018

Yes, I am talking to you. The purpose of my evening editorial is to make all of you better at managing your careers, and in particular to educate you on what I believe are the key issues in appearing more professional and technology savvy in the digital world we all live in. Let me start as I always do with outgoing signatures. The purpose of an outgoing signature is primarily to enable others to reach back out to you with a minimum of effort. This means that your phone numbers should appear in the order you would like them called. And, if you have more than one, list it. (Three might be a little over the top.) If you believe [ Read more… ]

It is always better to be working

From our daily member newsletter on April 15, 2018

Even though the job market seems to be improving, I thought I would repeat a thought I mention to those who ask. Plain and simple, it is always better to be working. The strategy you take early in your career has to be one of growth. Each job you take has to move you up the ladder of success. However, once you have been a Chief Financial Officer or Controller of a significant firm, and especially if you have reached the advanced age of mid-forties like most of our members, I would suggest to you that it is simply better to be working. My own observation has been that most of our members move from large firms to smaller ones. [ Read more… ]

Defining who you are

From our daily member newsletter on April 9, 2018

Probably one of the hardest things to do in life is to define who you are. Are you really your resume? Because we tend to be at companies longer than the members of other discipline areas, the reality of what it is we REALLY do best is not always obvious to us. Some time ago when one of my friends, Bob Graham, came to speak at our meeting in Connecticut, he shared with us a great interview question: What’s the biggest misperception about you? Believing that others have a misperception about you actually implies that there is something about yourself that you don’t accept. Unfortunately, most of us are often the last to know or at least the last to [ Read more… ]

Asking for help

From our daily member newsletter on April 4, 2018

Asking for help is hard for many people. I don’t know why that is, but I am sure it is just part of human nature. I guess we have been brought up to “do it ourselves.” It is sort of a mark of our independence when we become real adults. I have been told that this is the reason that guys used to refuse to stop at the gas station to ask for directions. (Thank goodness I have GPS and no longer need to ask.) The key is to know when your wheel spinning has reached the point that you would be best advised to ask for help. The reason I bring this up is that there are so many [ Read more… ]

Watching your back

From our daily member newsletter on March 27, 2018

It would be great if we could all see behind us while at the same time looking forward, but it just isn’t possible. And, sometimes just looking forward is hard enough. We have all heard about the “buddy system” that swimmers use. And, of course, having someone “watch your back” is a concept we are all quite familiar with. One of the problems The FENG has always tried to educate our members about is the mistaken belief that job search is a zero sum game. While it is certainly true that only one candidate is going to get the job, the goal is to ensure that one of our members is that person. I hope that it is you, but [ Read more… ]

The Energizer Bunny

From our daily member newsletter on March 26, 2018

Probably one of the hardest things to do during a job search is keeping yourself energized. If you are conducting your job search from home, it can be even more difficult. The thing to recognize is that conducting a job search is in some respects painful for us financial types. We don’t get to do spreadsheets (which we adore), and all we get to do is write letters and make phone calls. Sure, making phone calls to collect past due invoices is a lot of fun. But, making networking phone calls, now that’s painful. So, faced with not needing to sharpen our #2 pencils, it can be difficult to get going in the morning. After all, what is there to [ Read more… ]

The importance of realistic expectations

From our daily member newsletter on March 21, 2018

It is an unfortunate fact of life that no one can find you another job except for you. While it is POSSIBLE that others can help you in some way, they can’t actually do it for you. What we do in The FENG is provide you with the tools for an effective job search. These tools run the gamut from advice about networking, to chapter meetings, to access to our membership directory using our Member Directory Search feature. As it has been said, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. The resources for an effective job search are staring you in the face, but it is up to you to use them in the [ Read more… ]

90% of life is just showing up

From our daily member newsletter on March 18, 2018

While I am sure the correct answer is “about” 90% (90% is a little too precise), there is no denying the fact that showing up is important. If you have an interview and you don’t show up, you can’t possibly get the job. If you expect to get paid, you have to show up for work. And, the list goes on. If you would like to consider yourself a master networker, showing up is also important. The groups that you belong to such as your local chapter of The FENG, your local Chamber of Commerce, your religious organization, these are all places where you should show up on a regular basis. If you don’t show up, the people who are [ Read more… ]

Believing everything you hear

From our daily member newsletter on March 14, 2018

It is a great talent of us financial types that we do a lot of data gathering before we make decisions. In any conversation we have we are looking for the reasons why and why not, and keeping a tally count so that we can construct a graph of some kind, I suppose. This isn’t a criticism. I find myself doing it too, and I should know better. It sort of goes under the heading of “ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer.” Much of what I know about the world, I learned from other people. I listen to what they have to say and my “take away” is ultimately knowledge. Many years ago I was selling cable TV [ Read more… ]

Taking a punch

From our daily member newsletter on March 11, 2018

One of the lesser rated but most important traits of a senior financial executive is his/her ability to take a punch. I say lesser rated because many of our members who I have talked to over the years feel that having had a punch thrown at them and not having the good sense to duck is something they should somehow be embarrassed about. Let me be clear that everyone has punches thrown at them and inevitably you are going to be looking the other way and get hit by one of them. You can’t be alive for any significant length of time and not be caught off guard from time to time. That doesn’t make it your fault. Being hit [ Read more… ]

Brutally direct advice

From our daily member newsletter on March 6, 2018

The FENG is a society based on helping others. (Not that they actually need our help, of course.) I realize that, at times, members are in a sensitive state and I try to act accordingly. But, I don’t really know if providing brutally direct advice is better than soft peddling what they absolutely have to do. As Butch Cassidy said in the movie “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”: “Don’t sugarcoat it Sundance, tell it to her straight.” The question is which is better? At our meeting in Connecticut I am frequently listening to at least a few pretty bad 90-second announcements over the course of a two-hour meeting. Even though I try to model a good announcement by going [ Read more… ]

Keeping busy and productive

From our daily member newsletter on February 26, 2018

One of our members wrote me a while back and asked me about how to keep a proper attitude when your job search stretches into what seems like an eternity. The reason he addressed this question to me is that he noted that I have mentioned on several occasions that beginning in March of 1991 I was unemployed for almost 2 years. (It was only 1 year and 9 months, but who’s counting?) This is not an easy question to answer from many perspectives. Time has dimmed my memory to a certain extent. (And, not only about my job search. Those senior moments happen more frequently lately, but I digress.) When I left my job in 1991 as Chief Financial [ Read more… ]

The challenge of redefining yourself

From our daily member newsletter on February 25, 2018

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 [ Read more… ]

Maintaining your self-esteem

From our daily member newsletter on February 15, 2018

Maintaining your self-esteem during a job search can be difficult at times, especially if your search has been going on for any length of time. So much of who we perceive ourselves to be comes from the reflection of our personalities upon those with whom we are engaged on a daily basis. Cut off from an office environment where folks were bringing us checks to sign, we tend to lose sight of the fact that we haven’t changed. All that has changed is that we don’t see as many folks every day to give us that kind of reinforcement. There is a great importance to visualizing success. In brief, it takes just as much energy to think negatively as it [ Read more… ]

Life changing events

From our daily member newsletter on February 13, 2018

There are many things that can happen to you in your life that change your perspective. Losing your job and/or having to find another one, easily falls into this category. As you all know, The FENG is a networking group, it is not a job listing service. Sure, we publish lots and lots of job leads, but that is more than a little misleading with regard to our real purpose. Perhaps at this point in the state of the world, even the word networking has become a little shop worn. Still, absent a better word, we will have to live with it. About 90% of our members are men. And, men have their own peculiarities about how they see the [ Read more… ]

Removing mental obstacles

From our daily member newsletter on January 24, 2018

A very long time ago, I had the pleasure of attending a meeting of our Hartford/Springfield chapter. I was one of two guest speakers. The other speaker was a gentleman from Robert Half who spoke about the local market. What was of particular interest to me was his perception of people who lived in the area and how those who lived in Massachusetts wouldn’t consider jobs just over the border in Connecticut and those who lived on one side of the river wouldn’t consider jobs on the other side, even though all of these possibilities were within 30 miles of their homes and traffic really wasn’t any worse in the various directions. It got me to thinking about how easy [ Read more… ]

Sharing with the family

From our daily member newsletter on January 22, 2018

Job search can be a lonely business. There you are, in your home office from the moment you get up in the morning until just before you go to bed. Emails are going out. Letters are being sent. Appointments are being made. (And, the only time you leave the house is for this purpose.) The problem is, have you found a way to share with your family what you are doing every day and what progress you are making? Yes, I know progress is hard to measure. I hear it often from members that they tried this or that many times, but of course it hasn’t worked yet. It seems the only measure we feel comfortable as meaning anything is [ Read more… ]

They aren’t making any more of it

From our daily member newsletter on January 16, 2018

Ah, that very useful invention of mine, the day stretcher. If only it actually worked. Not only doesn’t it work, but it would also appear that there is nothing one can do about time that is lost. Once time has passed, it is gone. (When sailing, it is similar to what I call the sploosh syndrome, which I apply to anything that falls over board that doesn’t float.) It is a shame we can’t make our days longer or actually make up for lost time, but it is one of those “facts of life” that we can’t do anything about. All that is left for us to do is to make the best use of the time we have each [ Read more… ]

Knowing what’s important

From our daily member newsletter on January 10, 2018

I always find it interesting during 90-second announcements how nearly identical are the descriptions of “ideal jobs” when compared to the one a member has most recently left. Since we are all financial folks, I guess it shouldn’t surprise me. As history based individuals, it is hard to have any view of the world that isn’t colored by our past experience. Add to this the fact that we KNOW what we have been doing, but are not aware of ALL the possibilities out in the world. On the flipside, some members claim to be “all things to all people,” when clearly their background only lends itself to very narrow applications. A job search needs to be viewed as a new [ Read more… ]

Hanging on to unpleasantness

From our daily member newsletter on January 4, 2018

I don’t know if you remember “Rain Man” with Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman, but there was one scene where Tom Cruise either hit or yelled at Dustin Hoffman and Dustin proceeded to write it down in a notebook he carried. He was very meticulous in noting the “offense” and the date and time. In much the same way I hear stories all the time from our members about various things that have happened to them over the course of their job search. I’m sure the offending person has continued on their way without noting the damage that they have done, but the pain they have inflicted often remains as strongly felt as the day it happened. It is easy [ Read more… ]

Unbelievable!

From our daily member newsletter on January 2, 2018

When asked how your job search is going or your job, the best answer is “unbelievable.” Unbelievable can of course mean in reality good or bad. If things are really really bad, they are certainly unbelievable. And if you are pinching yourself to make sure you are awake, they could also be unbelievably good. You have the opportunity by saying “unbelievable” to leave others with the impression you are doing quite well. The question you may be asking is why you would do such a deceitful thing which is tantamount to lying if you are having one heck of a bad day. The reason is quite simple. No one really wants to know. It’s not that they don’t care. It [ Read more… ]

A time for reflection

From our daily member newsletter on December 28, 2017

As accountants we know only too well that the time periods into which we divide a year are a little arbitrary. They only mark the passage of time in a logical manner (which is very important to all of us financial types). We also know intuitively that the concept of getting a fresh start with the coming of the New Year isn’t quite true. Still, it is a very fine tradition. And, with all the time you will have in the next few days, it couldn’t hurt to spend some time in quiet reflection. (I said reflection — not napping.) I don’t know what the New Year will bring for the members of our networking group, but with any luck, [ Read more… ]

Putting it behind you-NOT

From our daily member newsletter on December 13, 2017

Since much of what we do in The FENG is about job search, I thought it might be appropriate to make a few suggestions to everyone about what to do when you do actually find a new job. I’ll be blunt. Job search is primarily filled with uncertainty, highs and lows and activities like making networking calls, which as financial folks we generally don’t like doing. Still, as I frequently remind everyone: “All jobs are temporary.” If you are going to be successful at this “career thing” you need to face facts, and the most important one is that you are never really employed, you are just between searches. A sad state of affairs, perhaps, but one that is factual. [ Read more… ]

The captain can show no fear

From our daily member newsletter on December 6, 2017

There was this very amusing comedy routine that I heard many years ago. During part of it, the comedian pointed out that when operating on a patient under local anesthetic, surgeons are not allowed to say “oops.” (I know what I mean when I say oops. What did he mean?) In much the same way, and for many of the same reasons, the captain of a ship is not allowed to show fear. No matter how fierce the storm, no matter how lost he may be at the minute, even if the vessel is becalmed and the water and food are running out, the captain is expected to keep his wits about him and act like nothing is wrong. There [ Read more… ]

Call me Mr. Know-it-all

From our daily member newsletter on December 5, 2017

I know we don’t mean to do it, but as financial types who come to our decisions the hard way (usually the long scenic route), we often react to information being presented to us by others in a dismissive, “oh, I knew that” manner. I suppose there was a time in my life when I actually thought I did know everything. As the Chief Financial Officer of a top 50 Advertising Agency back in the 1980’s, I was expected to know the answers. People looked to me for solutions to problems. There was a constant parade of folks trooping through my office all day long trying to persuade me about this or that. Talk about “analyze this.” As I have [ Read more… ]

Pitfalls and their avoidance

From our daily member newsletter on December 3, 2017

The world of job search can be an uncharted place. I can’t think of any activity that is so specific to one’s background, while at the same time one that we generally don’t practice a whole lot until the crisis is upon us. Over most of our careers for us stable financial types, practicing the art of job search would not be a good use of our time. There are budgets and financial statements to prepare, and always meetings to go to. So, when we find ourselves active in our search, what are the basic steps to take? First and foremost I would suggest taking the approach we have probably taken to most work related activities: we should do a [ Read more… ]

Developing a thick skin

From our daily member newsletter on November 1, 2017

It has often been said that I am a sensitive guy. I don’t think anyone who does what I do as a volunteer could be characterized as anything different. Still, when it comes to job search, being sensitive probably isn’t a good thing. You know the golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” When I was looking for work during 1991-1992 (yes, two long years), it seemed as if not many folks in the world were aware of this idea. After many successful years in business always returning the phone calls of others, I found mine going unanswered. And, the same thing was true about responses to my many letters. Primarily silence on both [ Read more… ]

Starting over is never easy

From our daily member newsletter on October 25, 2017

Although I constantly repeat our two mantras that all jobs are temporary and that one is never actually employed, only between searches, when this truth rears its ugly head I don’t know if anyone is really prepared. As the clock winds itself down on a current assignment, it is usually a stressful period of time prior to the actual event of your being given the bad news. This is hardly a time when you will be thinking clearly and focused on your goal of finding that next great “work opportunity.” The FENG is now so old that many of our members have been with us long enough to have gotten 2 or 3 searches under their belts. I would hope [ Read more… ]

Two anchors or one?

From our daily member newsletter on October 24, 2017

A long time ago I got into a discussion with another captain about the wisdom of setting two anchors. It may sound silly, since I am known on board my sailboat as Captain Safety, but I have never set two anchors. And, even though I have read a lot about it over the years, in most cases I don’t think it is smart to do. There are conditions when it is appropriate, but I try to be tied to a dock or safely at home during those times or I avoid anchoring in the kinds of places where it might be necessary. Anyway, it got me to thinking about a speech a cousin of mine gave at a family gathering [ Read more… ]

Accepting help

From our daily member newsletter on October 22, 2017

One of the less well recognized phobias in this world is the fear of accepting help from others. Perhaps it is primarily a guy thing and it explains why we never used to ask for directions at the gas station, but when it comes to job search it is another one of the many things that “get in the way” of very capable individuals finding work opportunities. (I don’t know if anything lasts long enough these days that we can dignify them with the word jobs.) With the new reality in the world we need to be more and more attuned to our own personal information networks for opportunities that fit our background, and that means reaching out to others [ Read more… ]

Buddy up

From our daily member newsletter on October 19, 2017

If there is one enduring truth about The FENG it is that we are a circle of friends. It started with the individual who sponsored you, and ends with … well, it doesn’t end. Just as friends don’t let friends drive drunk, friends also shouldn’t let friends feel alone during their job search. I called one of our members recently to follow up on an old piece of correspondence and was greeted by a drone. Hey, I’m feeling a little down today. (Really? Who knew?) I recognize that the job market isn’t what it used to be when we were in our youth, but then, what is? The important thing is that right now, each and every day, you have [ Read more… ]

No steps forward, two steps back

From our daily member newsletter on October 16, 2017

One of the most difficult challenges in a career is being faced with taking a step or two back. Because we tend to stay with companies longer than most senior managers, the gains we make in our career in terms of compensation and responsibilities are hard won and painstaking achieved. So, when a time comes in our careers that we have to choose whether to accept a title and real responsibilities that are significantly less than our last job, it can be a difficult thing. Even after we come to the decision that it is the best thing to do financially, it can be a bothersome and esteem affecting experience. I know because it happened to me. The truth is [ Read more… ]

A lifeboat mentality

From our daily member newsletter on October 11, 2017

Unfortunately for all of you, my wife bought me a book once when we were on vacation about the whale ship Essex. No need to go into all the details here, but the short story is that the ship was rammed by a whale and began to sink. Being a devoted sailor, I have certainly read other novels about what happens when the ship goes down. These tales of survival tend to be real page turners for me. (Perhaps in my last life I was a sailor on a square rigged ship.) Anyway, the mentality of someone about to abandon ship and how they feel afterwards as they attempt to survive has parallels with the process we all go through [ Read more… ]

Keeping your chin up

From our daily member newsletter on September 28, 2017

There are lots of good reasons to keep you chin up. Of course, the most important reason is that it is easier to hit! Okay, I am just kidding with you. But seriously, some members have been active in their search for so long, that I fear many of them are beginning to believe things that have been told to them like: If only you had a CPA. If only you hadn’t been with one company for so long. If only you hadn’t done so much job-hopping. If only you weren’t so over qualified. (We rarely hear that we are UNDER qualified.) The “if only” list is too long to publish. (If only it were shorter.) The fear I have [ Read more… ]

The sounds of silence

From our daily member newsletter on September 18, 2017

If losing your job wasn’t bad enough, the reluctance of business associates at your former company, as well as those who serviced your company as attorneys, accountants or recruiters to return your phone calls can be particularly disheartening. Actually, if you gave it some thought, you wouldn’t be all that shocked or surprised that they don’t. Let’s understand that in most cases when you leave a company everyone involved is typically sworn to secrecy. The “story” as to why you have left may even have been agreed to in writing, the violation of which could very well be cause for legal action by you. Since secrecy is normally the case, is it any wonder that no one at the firm [ Read more… ]

The small town syndrome

From our daily member newsletter on September 17, 2017

I am always chatting with potential sponsors for The FENG and from time to time the character of each of our chapters comes up. They are, of course, all different. Here in the Northeast I suppose there almost aren’t any boundaries. We get visitors to our chapter meeting from pretty far away and I know from talking to members attending our meeting in Westport that they often attend meetings in Westchester and New York City. Around here, the whole world is open to you from a job perspective as well. There are simply lots of possibilities if you are willing to commute by train or drive. Not so in other parts of the country. Many of our local chapters, while [ Read more… ]

Docking your boat

From our daily member newsletter on September 12, 2017

Let’s start with the fact that she weighs about 22,000+ lbs., and instead of being on dry land with wheels in firm contact with asphalt, it is more like driving a car on glare ice, only harder. I have been heard to say that there are only two difficult times when you are sailing – leaving the dock and returning to the dock, with returning to the dock being the harder of the two. When you are out in the middle of Long Island Sound there are certainly times when the boat is hard to handle. Still, the prospect of “crunching a little fiberglass” – yours or someone else’s – like hanging in the morning, tends to focus the mind. [ Read more… ]

Giving and taking advice

From our daily member newsletter on September 11, 2017

It is well understood that men don’t like unsolicited advice. It is for this reason we tend not to ask for directions at the gas station. It is a macho thing driving around for hours, lost beyond hope, and yet not stopping for help. (Thank goodness for GPS!) One of our many fine traditions at the Westport Chapter is a little coaching on 90-second announcements and resumes that we do as we go around the table. Our goal is not to put anyone down, but rather to search for ways to improve the message being delivered. Having regularly attended our meeting in Westport every month since 1996, I have heard more than my fair share of these pitches. Perhaps my [ Read more… ]

The proper placement of obstacles

From our daily member newsletter on September 7, 2017

As we go around the table at our meeting here in Connecticut, I am always surprised by the time devoted in 90 second announcements to where folks won’t move and what kinds of jobs they won’t take. I have always been of the philosophy that I will go anywhere to talk to anyone about anything. Okay, fine, there are limits, but I try not to set them before hand and create reasons why others shouldn’t talk to me. By keeping an open mind as to what the “correct answer” might be I hope that I receive more information than I might otherwise. Changing jobs can be a traumatic time. (Actually any change can be traumatic.) Because of the stress involved [ Read more… ]

The truth (as retold)

From our daily member newsletter on August 30, 2017

I know that many of our members are faced with the unpleasant truth that they have been out of work for a significant period of time. Having been out of work myself for almost two years, I know that this unpleasant question of “Why have you been out so long?” gets asked. Like anything else in life, if you don’t prepare a “proper” answer, you will begin to stammer. (Or, sweat!) The natural tendency of financial folks that you need to avoid is the very detailed answer. The good old “primarily due to, partially offset by” approach that we take to providing information is not only a bad idea, it is also unnecessary. As a defense attorney on TV would [ Read more… ]

Reasons for inaction

From our daily member newsletter on August 23, 2017

Labor Day is just around the corner. And, summer is just about over. There are, unfortunately, all kinds of events and holidays during the calendar year that can cause us to delay addressing our job search, and I thought I would use the “idea” of these dates as a prime example of the inaction it can cause in all of us, myself included. I think the fear that grips us is one of offending those we call. During the summer we can be calling networking contacts just before they are leaving on vacation or, just as bad, when they have just returned. We can be calling when folks are trying to leave early for holiday events or, as noted above, [ Read more… ]

Give yourself a break

From our daily member newsletter on August 13, 2017

Back in 1991-1992 I was unemployed. Yes, two full years. Honestly, cash was starting to get a little tight. But more importantly, although I had a lot of free time, it was hard to enjoy it. Money, and the prospect of more, tends to focus the “let’s have some fun” part of our brains, whereas the “I don’t know if I will survive this” mindset prevents us from really enjoying our “time off” to any great degree. However, as one of my friends once said, “No one is out of work forever, it just seems that way.” Chances are those last few months in that Heck Hole you refer to as your most recent job were more than a little [ Read more… ]

Don’t go it alone

From our daily member newsletter on July 19, 2017

Job search is in many ways a unique experience. In contrast to the world of work where we have had folks reporting to us and have had folks that we reported to, the world of job search can tend to be a lonely place. Outplacement facilities with their rabbit warren of cubicles at first glance seem to place you with a lot of other people. There are classes to attend, and at least in my own experience with this kind of environment, you have others with whom you can have lunch and share experiences. Not a totally bad situation. But still, everyone is on a different track and when they find work or their time ends, they typically disappear. And, [ Read more… ]

It’s always better to be working

From our daily member newsletter on July 18, 2017

When I was growing up, my father was in the construction business. Being a plumbing contractor or a consultant or even a job seeker these days isn’t all that different with respect to finding what I call “work opportunities.” I sense from talking to many members that there are those among us who at times can be more than a little picky about the assignments they are willing to take, despite the fact that they aren’t working AT ALL. One of the many lessons I draw from my father’s experience is that some of the jobs you find are short term, some are more fun than others, and some pay better than others. Still, the need to have your “crew” [ Read more… ]

Birds of a feather

From our daily member newsletter on June 27, 2017

We are fortunate in the financial professions to be blessed with a very high degree of transferable skills. Still, the next job for most of us isn’t going to be all that much different from our last one. While it is certainly possible that we will change industries, it is less likely that we will change the skill sets needed in our day to day work. What typically happens in any recession is that certain industries take a downward turn and many of the folks in those industries lose their jobs. It used to be that this was limited to old line industries, but as we have seen in recent years, it can even affect the stars of just last [ Read more… ]

A time of renewal

From our daily member newsletter on June 14, 2017

Although everyone thinks that spring is a time of renewal, actually (just like networking) any point in time and any excuse will do. For those of us who are in their 40’s and 50’s, periods of unemployment early in our career have probably been non-existent. The experience of being unemployed can be stressful unless you use the time to good advantage. One way of doing this is to, in part, create a new you. I’m not talking about plastic surgery but there are always things you can do that will make you into a “new” person. After you have gone through the initial steps of preparing your job campaign and networking with everyone you can think of, it may be [ Read more… ]

Awaiting a rising tide

From our daily member newsletter on June 13, 2017

Although I would never willingly admit it, over the nearly 35 years I have been sailing I have had occasion to go aground. (It is always an embarrassing situation.) One time I dragged anchor in a storm (that I can assure you was not in the forecast) and the other times I managed to wander too far out of the main channel. The tidal drop in Long Island Sound where I do most of my sailing can be as much as 8 feet. For most of my sailing life I have had boats that draw around 4-5 feet. At high tide you can easily pass over areas that are exposed at low tide. (For those of you not familiar with [ Read more… ]

Zen and the art of job search

From our daily member newsletter on June 6, 2017

I have never actually read any of the books that begin with the title I selected for this editorial, but I think I know what they were all about. Okay, maybe I don’t. Still, the thought comes to mind upon reading one of the responses I received recently that there is one aspect of your required “job search attitude” that I should address. Our mutual purpose in trying to explain how the world works is directed toward lessening the stress you feel when you are engaged in a search. It is easy to feel alone. It is easy to feel that no one cares about you. And, it is easy to feel that everyone else is getting called back, but [ Read more… ]

Those lazy hazy days of summer

From our daily member newsletter on June 1, 2017

You really can’t beat summer. Although it is a brief season (at least here in the Northeast), it is one of those remarkable times during the year when there is lots to do and lots of daylight time in which to do it. The days are longer and the weather is warm enough that you don’t need much preparation to go outside, unless it is raining cats and dogs. And even then, all you need is your umbrella. Heading out to lunch is just so much easier if you work in a place like New York City where I worked for 20 years. No heavy winter coat to drag with you to a restaurant. One of the great myths of [ Read more… ]

Corporations are reptilian

From our daily member newsletter on May 24, 2017

I hope no one will be offended by the thought that corporations are reptilian. All I mean to imply by this statement is that although corporations appear to have human elements, they actually have no feelings. We have all met and in fact we may individually have been dedicated employees, but in many respects, to have feelings about a corporation is similar to having feelings about a car, boat or a house. In and of themselves, they are not caring creatures. The “warm fuzzies” we may associate with inanimate objects is derived from their interaction and our interaction with actual people. Good times with friends, family or business associates in a particular setting are always in a human context. What [ Read more… ]

Changing industries

From our daily member newsletter on May 23, 2017

More often than not, members of our networking group prefer to change industries when they change jobs. I have to agree that changing industries isn’t such a bad idea. In fact, the opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills we have learned to a totally new situation is an attractive concept. The truth unfortunately is often a little harsher. Our maximum value to any new employer is our knowledge and skills, and often times our perceived value is higher if we aren’t making any significant change. As counter intuitive as it may sound, the best approach to changing industries is talking to folks from your industry, especially those who are no longer there. The question to be answered is how [ Read more… ]

It must make sense (to them)

From our daily member newsletter on May 22, 2017

When I was in my mid-30’s, I had the great honor of being treasurer of my congregation, a job I held for 4 full years. It is probably true that I lean towards all consuming jobs. Or, perhaps I just try to do a good job even when I am not getting paid. Nonetheless, I discovered a lot about human nature performing this often times thankless task. The congregation had a very long list of “members” who were behind in their payments. So, I set about to call all of them. Sure, I tried writing to them, but I found that the only way I got any kind of response was by picking up the phone. Most folks were very [ Read more… ]

No one is out of work forever

From our daily member newsletter on May 14, 2017

One of the pearls of wisdom I heard from a friend of mine in 1991 was that no one is out of work forever, it just seems that way. When you are employed in a W-2 job, weekends and evenings are hopefully your time to relax. Snow days, holidays are also to be anticipated and enjoyed. After all, the money is still coming in whether you are at the office or not. The worst case scenario is that your work is piling up. Once you are out of work, your whole perspective changes. The early morning hours when you are awake and can’t make any phone calls, and the evenings when you would like to catch up with someone are [ Read more… ]

A cut in pay

From our daily member newsletter on May 2, 2017

Probably one of the most upsetting and disappointing aspects of searching for a new job when you are “well experienced” is the need to consider positions for which the compensation is considerably less than your last job. I suppose it is part of our mind set as accountants that we tend to view our gradual increases in pay over the years as hard won. I guess that’s because they probably were. The prospect of losing ground from the heights we have obtained is, at best, difficult to face. I can tell you from my personal experience that early on in my search in 1991 I passed on several reasonable opportunities because they were slightly below my former salary. If only [ Read more… ]

There are evil doers

From our daily member newsletter on April 20, 2017

The executive search business isn’t what it used to be, but then what is? I hate to bore those who already know the primary difference between recruiters, but I hesitate to assume. Retained recruiters typically have an exclusive right to find a particular candidate for a firm and they get paid whether they find an acceptable candidate or not. The only problem is that since they have been paid, they sort of have to keep working on it. Contingency recruiters don’t have an exclusive and will typically present what candidates they can find and then quit looking. Please understand that there is nothing inherently evil with either type of firm. If you want to learn more about the differences between [ Read more… ]

Home is where the heart is

From our daily member newsletter on March 22, 2017

As many of you know, in 1991 and 1992, I was unemployed. (Yes, two long years!) Hard to say exactly why it took so long to find another job, but suffice to say that it was a recession and after 9 years in the Advertising business (which was in the dumper) and no recent experience in Publishing (my other background which was also in the dumper), there weren’t a lot of job possibilities. One of the things I took off the table immediately was moving. Sure, I was born in Chicago and had lived in Northern Indiana when I was growing up, but for nearly 25 years I had been living in Norwalk, Connecticut. It is arguable if moving would [ Read more… ]

Why bother?

From our daily member newsletter on March 21, 2017

I was working on two assignments for The FECG a few weeks ago and I couldn’t help but notice the frequency with which some members consistently failed to provide a meaningful cover letter with their resume. (Just so you know, assignments marketed by our consulting practice are only presented to members of The FENG for their consideration.) I have often been heard to say that “your resume stands alone.” It’s true. But, sometimes we need a little more information. When a member’s candidacy is marginal, that email cover note can really make the difference. When I say marginal I am not talking about the general qualifications of the individual in question, but rather his/her suitability for the particular assignment we [ Read more… ]

The fine line

From our daily member newsletter on February 6, 2017

To call or not to call, that is the question. To write or not to write, that is the question. When is enough, enough? (Or perhaps you should just show up in person and demand to see someone?) At what point do you move from showing your persistence and tenacity to just being a pest? Well, the truth is, I don’t know. I do operate on the principle that if you don’t ask, you don’t get. It comes from my many years as Chief Financial Officer of an Advertising Agency trying to collect bills from our clients. How often I heard the story: “I was just about to put your check in the mail.” Oh sure, now that I called. [ Read more… ]

Local candidates only

From our daily member newsletter on November 29, 2007

I know how disheartening it can be to get to the bottom of a job posting and see those deathless words: “Local candidates only” Still, the facts are that there are always lots of qualified folks applying for any great job and at least in major metropolitan areas there is no need for a company to move someone. In addition to the availability of local talent, a not so obvious issue is the difficulty of meeting and getting to know a candidate from outside the area. If we are talking “East Coast/West Coast”, the three hour time difference can make it difficult to connect. With this as a backdrop, if you see a job posting that is a good fit [ Read more… ]

Move to where?

From our daily member newsletter on November 19, 2007

In 1991 when I was last out of work I was at a point in my life where I didn’t want to move.   Although born in Chicago and raised in northern Indiana, I had lived in Connecticut for almost 20 years and I liked it here. My wife’s parents lived nearby and I had a daughter and son in high school. Moving really didn’t make sense in that it would have been very disruptive. And, much as I respect those who have taken jobs out of town and commuted for a period of time, it wasn’t something I was prepared to do.   It seemed to me at the time that because I lived in the New York metropolitan [ Read more… ]

Did you have a bad day?

From our daily member newsletter on November 6, 2007

Let’s face it, sooner or later you are bound to have a bad day. The odds of having 365 perfect days in a row just aren’t high. It’s sort of a reverse thing to the odds of your winning the lottery. Sure, someone wins it every day, but it never seems to be me. (I guess it would help if I bought a ticket, but I am a tightwad financial guy and I would never spend the money – but I digress.) By the way, if it turns out to be you, I hope you will make a generous contribution to The FENG or buy me a new car or something.   Anyway, getting out of bed every morning, energized [ Read more… ]

True confessions

From our daily member newsletter on November 5, 2007

While confession may be good for the soul, it is deadly when it comes to job search. The dreaded question: What is your greatest weakness?   This is one of those questions we could easily do without. And, they often catch us by surprise.   Enron not withstanding, the problem is that most senior financial folks are very honest. I’m sure there is something about each of us we believe to be our greatest weakness. However, this is not the time to tell ANYONE about your secret concerns.   Okay, you do have to say something. To say you have no weaknesses comes off as conceited or worse arrogant. But what to confess to?   My suggestion is that you [ Read more… ]

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