EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

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. The reason for this is pretty straight forward — parachuting in at the top of a large company closes off career tracks. That’s why large firms don’t generally hire senior executives.

Those of us who have enjoyed long careers with one firm have to accept the fact that part of our compensation was the result of our intense knowledge of our firm. We knew the people, and we knew what they would do before they did. We could protect them from themselves, so to speak.

That was why we earned the “big bucks.”

If we now move to another company, we are in a sense pushed back to the value of our technical and people skills. Sure, we may click with the interviewer, but the truth is that there are lots of folks who have the technical and people skills to do any job. It is a market, and we may not have the same value to a new employer as we did to one we had been with for many years.

Sad, but true.

As we set about on our quest to have a slightly larger office with more potted plants and a few more side chairs (and, of course, a slightly larger paycheck), I would suggest that you not lose sight of the fact that you need to be careful not to stay out of the game any longer than absolutely necessary.

If you are not employed for an extended period of time, even those who know you and like you may start to believe that there is something wrong. There may not be, but perception is everything.

What I am suggesting is that if you happen to stumble across a less than perfect job that is in fact offered to you, you might want to view it through the lens of your current age and real requirements.

If you take a job for less than you used to earn, no one will actually know other than you. Since you are a member of The FENG, you are actually keeping your job search active, and if something better comes along, you can take it. (Yes, I know all about ethics in business, but as far as I know in today’s world it isn’t illegal to quit a job for one paying more money.)

You will, however, have been working, and you will be perceived for this new opportunity as more valuable than if you had waited it out.

This is, of course, just one man’s opinion. I would welcome the thoughts of others, so please send them in. The proper place is Leads@TheFENG.org for our Notes from Members column.

Regards, Matt

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