EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

Best supporting actor

From our daily member newsletter on September 18, 2018

I once wrote an editorial I called: Your resume stands alone If I must say so myself, it was one of my better missives. It highlighted the simple fact that unless your resume sings your praises properly, you honestly don’t stand a chance. A resume needs to be complete, as in no missing jobs or obvious skipped time spans, especially at the beginning of your career. The companies you have worked for need to be defined in one simple line or two, and your job titles need to sort of jump off the page. Career progression speaks miles about you, especially early in your career. If the resume is so darn important, you might ask, what is the role of [ Read more… ]

After all we have meant to each other

From our daily member newsletter on September 16, 2018

A few times a week I get a note from one of our members asking me to stop the newsletter. Although sometimes I do get an explanation of sorts, most times I don’t. All I get is the subject: Unsubscribe. Perhaps I shouldn’t admit this, but I am a little offended that someone who has been receiving our free newsletter, usually for several years, can’t take the time to dash off a few lines of thanks and an explanation. Have they decided to retire? Are they no longer working in Finance? Inquiring minds want to know. I won’t even get into the notes that ask me to stop because they are starting a new job on Monday. You would think [ Read more… ]

Always do your best work

From our daily member newsletter on September 6, 2018

I have never quite understood why the emails I get are so sloppy. I fully realize and accept that most people don’t type 90 words a minute like I do. Still, even if you only hunt and peck, it is my honest advice to you that you make an effort to spell words correctly and to check your sentence construction to ensure that EVERY message you are sending will be well received. Do all messages matter, you might ask? I would argue that they do. The truth is that you may send hundreds of messages out each week, but if you stop and think about it, I may only get ONE of those messages. For me, everything I know about [ Read more… ]

A firm belief in the Tooth Fairy

From our daily member newsletter on August 27, 2018

I hope I will not sound like I am in a bad mood or anything, but I have to tell you that the bulk of the messages I get from members need a lot of work to make them appear as proper business correspondence. I wish I could believe this is only how you write when you are corresponding with your old and best friend Matt, but I fear that this is not the case. Unless you believe in the Tooth Fairy as strongly as I do, or unless you have a guardian angel, a significant number of the folks getting your messages aren’t getting back to you for reasons that are obvious to me and should be to you [ Read more… ]

Making your emails look professional

From our daily member newsletter on August 21, 2018

I don’t know if you will agree, but I’m almost convinced that email is going to stick around for a while as a business tool. This being the case, I would like to make the bold suggestion to all of you who write emails (and hopefully that is everyone in The FENG) that you “get with the program.” When I write emails, I make every attempt to make them look like business correspondence. The simple reason is BECAUSE THEY ARE. If you have fallen into bad habits because you are writing to close friends all the time, understand that (as said in the Godfather movies) this is about business, it’s not personal. If you recall those halcyon days of written [ Read more… ]

When the going gets tough, the tough get silly

From our daily member newsletter on July 12, 2018

Tomorrow I will begin processing a rather large batch of new members. It is actually a two week batch as I was on vacation the past two weeks. I realize that new members are not totally indicative of how everyone is doing their resume, but I have to tell you that their resumes aren’t all that different from the ones attached to applications I see for positions posted by The FECG, my consulting practice. (Please visit our website: www.TheFECG.com for information about what we do.) The statement has been made that most resume reviewers are really only interested in your most recent 10 years. This is true. That is NOT to mean that you should leave off your early work [ Read more… ]

All I know about you is in front of me

From our daily member newsletter on July 9, 2018

To quote George Bernard Shaw: “The biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” With respect to our power to communicate, we live in a remarkable period of time. I normally respond to 50-100 unique emails every day. I have been doing this for many years and yet I still marvel over it. Before email, this would simply not have been possible. What is most disconcerting about many of the email messages I receive is that the person communicating with me believes they are sending me what I should consider to be a complete and actionable piece of correspondence. This is rarely the case. I know I beat this dead horse several times a week, but [ Read more… ]

Attention to detail

From our daily member newsletter on June 21, 2018

I am frequently disappointed by the lack of attention to detail by the many members who write to me. There are so many things that are easy to do, that no one seems to do. Let me start with my primary concern – the lack of outgoing signatures. Incredibly, some emails I get aren’t even signed. A proper outgoing signature contains your name, address, phone numbers and email address. Adding one is so simple that it doesn’t bear explaining. If you aren’t using one, just click “Help” and search for “signature.” If you are wondering why no one is writing back, this may be why. Is your name Pat, or Leslie? You might want to let folks know somehow if [ Read more… ]

Playing to an empty house

From our daily member newsletter on June 13, 2018

I have often wondered how actors polish their performances before the first show. With only the director and the producer in the audience it just can’t be the same. Sure you are up there on stage and perhaps even in full costume, but there is no audience clapping or talking to each other to let you know how your delivery is going. Once you have a full audience, tuning up your performance has got to be a lot easier. Changes in gestures at key moments, raising your voice, lowering your voice, all seem to get a reaction. When I am speaking to chapter meetings I sort of experience the same thing. I may have thought through what I am going [ Read more… ]

I’ve got you covered

From our daily member newsletter on June 5, 2018

We can all get a lot of help writing resumes. There are even lots and lots of very good books and articles on this topic. Still, the first thing most recipients read or at least glance at is your cover letter. As bad as most of the resumes I see are, the cover letters are often worse. We are all kind of stuck with the fact that in this electronic world, the email message you send with your resume IS your cover letter. Please don’t attach two files. No one has time to open and print two files. But, don’t include your cover letter as the first page of your resume because it will typically mess up all the pages [ Read more… ]

Proper uses of boilerplate

From our daily member newsletter on May 13, 2018

One from column A and one from column B. Sure makes it easy, doesn’t it? Much as our electronic world makes life simple, it also makes it more complicated in certain ways due to the opportunity to be lazy or inattentive to details. Just as there are only a few themes for good writing (man against man, man against nature, etc.), there are also lots of routine things we say in the letters we write during a job search. It would be unwise (that’s the same as silly or stupid) to reinvent the wheel each and every time. In much the same way that plays are tried off Broadway first, some of the phrases and their sequence in your cover [ Read more… ]

When in doubt, throw it out

From our daily member newsletter on March 15, 2018

I don’t know if your incoming snail mail is anything like ours, but we sure get a ton of unsolicited mail. The procedure we follow in our house is to pile the mail up and pull over a large garbage pail. The rule is, “when in doubt, throw it out.” Hard to believe how much junk mail we get over the course of a week. Returning from a vacation is a mind blowing experience as you excitedly bring the bushel basket of mail into the house to discover that there are only 10-20 pieces of “real” mail in there. The same thing is of course true about email. I have 4 addresses that I query several times a day, and [ Read more… ]

The sploosh syndrome

From our daily member newsletter on February 28, 2018

Life onboard a boat, whether sail or power, is in many respects different than life on dry land. I was watching Ax Men on the History Channel a few years ago and the crew dropped a bolt on the ground from one of their pieces of equipment for which they didn’t have a replacement. Despite the “needle in the haystack” nature of this problem, they actually found it in the pile of logs and dirt. Not so out on the water. When something goes “over the side,” it makes a brief sploosh sound and then it is GONE. I suppose if it were large enough and expensive enough you could call a diver, but that is generally not the nature [ Read more… ]

E I E I O

From our daily member newsletter on January 21, 2018

I suppose I could be wrong about all of this, but I find the use of “, MBA” as part of your name to be a bad idea. Yes, I know that not everyone has an MBA, but in my opinion unless you are a CPA or a Ph.D., you need to exercise a little caution in the initials you place after your name. My sister sells commercial insurance and as I understand it, every time you take a test of some sort you get another set of initials you can use after your name. At meetings where you might be introduced, they read your name and ALL of your initials which everyone at these gatherings of fellow insurance folks [ Read more… ]

Attention to detail

From our daily member newsletter on January 18, 2018

Stop me if I am wrong, but I always thought that financial folks were known for their attention to detail. Aren’t we known as total compulsives, or did I miss something? Sad to say, but it apparently isn’t true. Most of my daily communication is from fellow financial executives and I am continually appalled at the mistakes of all kinds that I see in what they send me. I was reviewing candidates for one of my assignments for The FECG recently and I couldn’t believe how many email cover letters had no information at all, had no subject, didn’t follow directions on the file naming convention I request, or had cover letters attached that began “Dear Sir or Madam.” You’ll [ Read more… ]

Save the Nauga

From our daily member newsletter on January 17, 2018

I assume that most of you are unaware that in addition to being Chairman of The FENG, I am also president of the Save The Nauga Society. I have been actively involved in trying to save the nauga from extinction for many years. While naugas existed in most parts of the world in large numbers, over the years they have been hunted for their hides for use in making furniture. In my youth, my parents had chairs and a couch covered in material made from naugas. These cute little creatures have very tough skin and the product that is made from it is, of course, called Naugahyde. While one can’t argue with the durability of furniture covered in Naugahyde, these [ Read more… ]

There’s honestly no excuse

From our daily member newsletter on January 3, 2018

There was a time, I suppose, when it was really hard to get back to people. Let’s say someone sent you a smoke signal. I guess you would first have to build a fire, and a smoky one at that. If they sent you a message towards the end of the day, would you really have enough time to respond? And, if you waited until the morning, how would you know if they were still listening? If someone sent you a papyrus scroll, not only would you feel obligated to respond, you probably would have to feed and house the messenger who brought it while you prepared your own papyrus scroll. Sounds complicated, doesn’t it? Well, it probably was. If [ Read more… ]

Why bother saying thank you?

From our daily member newsletter on December 19, 2017

For those of you who are sailing fans and/or history buffs and saw the movie Master and Commander: The Far Side of The World, there was a scene where Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany were having a heated argument about the merits of flogging. The comment made by the captain was that the good doctor didn’t understand what held their little wooden world together. Please understand that I am not recommending we flog members of The FENG who fail to say thank you, but the analogy is that those who don’t say thank you apparently don’t understand what holds our little electronic world together. NO ONE ever hears thank you enough. All of you are very kind to me and [ Read more… ]

Saturday Night Live!

From our daily member newsletter on December 18, 2017

I have been known to get seriously silly at times. (I know this will come as a great shock to all of you.) Back in the old days when I was able to stay up late, Saturday Night Live had an ongoing skit about an individual named Pat. Over the course of the seasons or season it was on (as I indicated, it was a long time ago), all of the skits revolved around figuring out if Pat was a male or a female. Some of them were actually pretty funny. (Keep in mind that it was late at night and I do get slaphappy when I am tired.) Anyway, the issue for tonight is labeling yourself properly. As you [ Read more… ]

The personal, impersonal

From our daily member newsletter on December 17, 2017

One of the very nicest parts of the holiday season is getting greeting cards, both email and physical, from the many people that I know. The good ones are filled with newsy information about what the sender has been doing for the past 12 months and perhaps what their plans are for the year to come. The bad ones may as well be addressed as “To Whom It May Concern.” The last time I sent out physical holiday greeting cards was many years ago and I felt even back then that for the most part they were a waste of time if they really weren’t personal. So, with only a few days left to send out “holiday greetings,” I thought [ Read more… ]

The CB Radio craze

From our daily member newsletter on December 14, 2017

I don’t know if all of you are old enough to remember the CB Radio craze, but it was a fun period in America. I assume some truckers still use this technology, but for most of us it is just a fond memory. I remember how all of us used to talk about our “handles,” and putting the antenna on the top of the car was an absolute must before starting any long trip. (After a while, the static and the rude people on the air did take some of the charm out of it.) Anyway, many of the elements of the CB Radio craze have valid comparisons to the beginnings of the Internet. AOL was one of the earliest [ Read more… ]

Please, give me a hint

From our daily member newsletter on November 14, 2017

Every once in a while I get an assignment for The FECG that draws more than its fair share of attention. I think our all time high a few years ago was an assignment that drew 225 responses. However, even when you get an assignment that draws more than say 40 responses, it can get a little difficult to see the forest for the trees. And, with all that talent to choose from, those who provide the clearest presentation of their credentials are the ones we are most likely to send to our client for consideration. To be very honest, it’s hard to justify forcing our client to “read between the lines” when you have so many better submissions. Here [ Read more… ]

Email cover notes

From our daily member newsletter on November 13, 2017

Based on the email cover notes I see, I’m not sure we have all made the transition from messages sent in envelopes to those sent by email. Personally, I have always found electronic files to be maddening, especially very highly developed Excel spreadsheets. Adopting naming conventions so that you can be clear which version of a file was the latest one, used to and still does drive me crazy at times. And, as you can imagine, I’m a pretty organized guy. Purging files from your computer can also be unnerving because when it’s gone, it’s gone. The problem in a nutshell (Help, I’m locked in a nutshell!) is that reviewing the files on your computer by opening them is like [ Read more… ]

A fear of being contacted

From our daily member newsletter on October 26, 2017

Gosh, please don’t call me. That’s the message that I seem to get from time to time when I am trying to track down candidates for the consulting assignments and full time jobs I am handling through The FECG. I have also been alerted to this fear by one of our chapter chairs who noted that folks weren’t putting their phone numbers on his meeting attendance sheet. Okay, you do have one phone number on your resume and you may even have this same number in your outgoing signature. That said, you can’t be reached there. If you are still employed, it is your home phone number. I’m sure you will find my message when you get there at the [ Read more… ]

Dear FENG Member or Current Occupant

From our daily member newsletter on September 25, 2017

In keeping with the spirit of networking that makes The FENG a remarkable organization, it is appropriate that we share our contact information. And, when other members reach out to you, it is EXPECTED that you will take the time to respond. (Yes, I know you are busy, but so am I and I need your help. It is one of those “many hands make light work” things. Besides, I am not always the right person to contact.) What makes this obligation a joy to fulfill is that most members pick and choose whom to contact and are genuinely interested in creating mutually beneficial long term relationships. However, from time to time I find members sending out what appear to [ Read more… ]

Have you seen my glasses?

From our daily member newsletter on August 29, 2017

I don’t know about you, but I am always misplacing things. I work pretty hard at keeping my papers organized, but like anything else, papers can get lost. When they do, it makes me absolutely crazy. Even when I have another copy on my computer, I am obsessed to find the copy that is on my desk. Finding information on documents I also find maddening. Back in the early 70’s when I worked at B. Altman & Company as an Internal Auditor, I was just amazed at the inconsistencies in invoicing formats by the firms doing business in the same industry. I know you won’t believe this, but sometimes I can be a little impulsive. Yeah, I know, how could [ Read more… ]

Junk mail

From our daily member newsletter on August 21, 2017

I don’t know what you consider to be junk mail. I view anything I don’t want to get in the mail (including bills) to be unwanted. (Can’t they send my bills to YOU for payment? Okay, you probably wouldn’t pay them and then my credit would be ruined. I guess I’ll have to come up with another plan.) Anyway, the same principle applies to email. We all get a lot of spam these days. It appears that asking to be taken off their list only serves to confirm your address, and you get even more junk email. Now if only I got offers for things I could actually use, or offers for stuff that REALLY was free. (Fine, this probably [ Read more… ]

Computers are here to stay

From our daily member newsletter on July 24, 2017

I sometimes get the feeling from the format of emails I get and the strange formatting of resumes I see that there are those who believe computers are just a passing phase in our society. I don’t know how to break this to those of you who have been reluctant to “get with the program,” one of the measures of you on the part of those receiving your many missives is your computer knowledge. Perhaps “back on the block” (i.e. when you were working for the big corporation), you had someone to run your email and underlings to develop spreadsheets to execute your many ideas. Well, to a large degree, those days are over for most of us. Even when [ Read more… ]

Before you click send

From our daily member newsletter on June 18, 2017

The fun never stops here at world headquarters of The FENG. I get more amusing emails probably than anyone else on the face of the earth. Let’s start with the use of “Matt’s secret decoder ring.” Thank goodness it is made out a durable electronic material. Each day about 75% of the emails I get lack an outgoing signature. Now I know that learning how to create an outgoing signature could take upwards of 15 minutes and that your time is best spent elsewhere, but it sure would help me to immediately know who you are and how to reach you. A proper outgoing signature should include your full name, street address, city, state, zip code, phone numbers and email [ Read more… ]

Catch me if you can

From our daily member newsletter on June 8, 2017

Several years ago, Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks starred in a movie about Frank Abagnale Jr. who, before his 19th birthday, successfully conned millions of dollars worth of checks as a Pan Am pilot, doctor, and legal prosecutor. The basic story is that over the course of several years, Carl Hanratty, played by Tom Hanks tracks down Frank Abagnale played by Leonardo DiCaprio. I often feel like Carl Hanratty, only in my case, I am trying to track down members of The FENG. As Chairman of The FENG, I often feel that I could easily become a detective at this point in my life given the skills I have acquired. I can’t believe how frequently during the day I get [ Read more… ]

Precision in your communications

From our daily member newsletter on April 30, 2017

Perhaps it all started with the telegraph. (Hey, they were charging by the word.) Or, was it the CB radio? Somewhere along the line we have all come to believe that brevity, even when not entirely correct, is somehow okay. Today’s communication formats such as the various smart phones don’t lend themselves to being complete or correct. There is even an available statement you can add to your outgoing messages from these devices that highlights the fact that it wasn’t sent from a regular computer. (I guess the expectation is that folks on the receiving end will therefore be more forgiving.) I won’t even get into Twitter. (140 characters is really constraining.) It is sad, really, that we allow these [ Read more… ]

A fair fight

From our daily member newsletter on April 18, 2017

One of the most over rated things in this world is a fair fight. I suppose the belief in a fair fight is to a very large degree all part of the American Western heritage of the gunfighter. Two men armed with six-shooters (the great equalizer) standing 20 paces apart face each other in the street. Is it fair to draw first, and if it is, under what conditions? What if you aren’t as fast as the other guy or as good a shot? What exactly are the rules? Is the use of secret weapons in war unfair? And, does this mean we can’t use hidden advantages? I don’t know about you, but I am generally inclined to bring a [ Read more… ]

Don’t call me, I’ll call you

From our daily member newsletter on April 16, 2017

I have been trying to do a better job of keeping up with my email these days. I must admit that from time to time I have fallen very far behind. (My personal record is 600 or 800 unanswered after one of my vacations, but that was a long time ago.) Sure, I know all of you can appreciate how much email I get and are forgiving if I fall behind, but I sort of feel that I have made a commitment and I should make every effort to get back to those who need my help on a timely basis. Having been out of work myself for almost two years back in 1991-1992, I know how it feels. I [ Read more… ]

Too smart for our own good

From our daily member newsletter on April 11, 2017

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 [ Read more… ]

Setting expectations

From our daily member newsletter on April 3, 2017

One of the very important issues facing us as an organization is the “care and feeding” of our many friends in the search community. (And, there aren’t many left.) While studies have shown that only about 15% of the jobs in this country are handled by recruiters, to me they are still an important audience for us to treat with respect. And yes, they have feelings too. (I will let you guess how the other 85% are filled. Okay, I’ll tell you: Networking, networking and more networking.) Our first rule as an organization is that any job posted in our newsletter is to be responded by “qualified members only” and at no time, even if you are SO smart that [ Read more… ]

Details, details, details

From our daily member newsletter on March 28, 2017

One of the most annoying things about us financial types (at least to non-financial types) is the long-winded and seemingly endless explanations we provide when discussing complicated situations. Although we are mistakenly thought to always “cut to the chase” or go right to “the bottom line,” when it comes to communicating about important matters, no detail no matter how small or insignificant (to others) can be left out if in our minds it provides a link of logic important to the “moral” of our story. Nowhere is this more true than the saga of how we lost our last job or when asked to discuss our career progression. In the case of why we left our last job, it is [ 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… ]

Creating actionable messages

From our daily member newsletter on November 14, 2007

I’m a pretty organized guy. If I weren’t, it would be possible to get all the things done in a day that I try to accomplish. (I have even gotten all my e-mail up to date!)   Still, a few times a day I get an e-mail from someone with incomplete information.   Earlier in the day I wrote to a new member applicant and asked them to send me a resume with their educational information. Not a smart thing to leave off your resume, but okay, these things happen. He was also lacking a sponsor as far as I knew, so I mentioned that as well.   The note back read in part: “Attached is a revised resume and, [ Read more… ]

Common courtesy

From our daily member newsletter on November 11, 2007

There are some who would argue that in this day and age of e-mail, the world has become a more impersonal place than in those halcyon days of yesteryear.   Please say it isn’t so. In this e-mail age, it has become SO easy to be personal, that I can’t for the life of me fathom why anyone wouldn’t take the time to say thank you to anyone and everyone who sends them a message.   I like to think that I have 27,000 friends. (I hope all of you feel the same way.) Although all of you need to be patient with me from time to time because I fall behind in my e-mail, I make every attempt to [ Read more… ]

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