EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

One of the biggest problems you face as a senior financial executive is that you have too many product benefits. In a very real sense, you are too good to be true.

For those of you who have been hearing you are “over qualified,” let me suggest to you that you are. After over 20 years of work experience, how could you not be over qualified in some sense? That said, being “over qualified” is a good thing. You just have to learn how to sell it.

Let me first deal with the words “over qualified” and explain why they are used. The purpose of using these words after an interview, whether by phone or in person, is to create what I refer to as “the excuse you can’t cure.” In much the same way as there is no good answer to “Have you stopped beating your wife?,” there is no easy way to get out of it once you have been “accused” of being “over qualified.” My approach, as I have mentioned before, is to tell them “I’m not as capable as you think I am.” Unfortunately, unless you are the Henny Youngman of job search, it may not be possible for you to pull off delivering that line as well as I do. (Trust me, it will get a nervous laugh if done properly.)

“Over qualified” is a throw away line. As such, you should ignore it. Yes, I know you have probably been hearing it from a lot of sources and you are beginning to believe it, but as the character Riddler might be heard to say: Riddle me this Batman, how can being talented be a bad thing?

First, let me ask you if you are “looking for love in all the wrong places.” If you are applying for jobs that are well beneath your dignity, what kind of reaction were you expecting?

But let’s assume the job in question is one you would like to do. The compensation isn’t bad. The people are nice. The commute isn’t bad. In this case all that is preventing you from having a good time practicing your skill sets is convincing the “hiring authority” that you will be happy. (I know it is hard to believe, but they are very concerned about your happiness.)

Let’s start the sales pitch with the idea that all of those things that only happen once or twice a year you have done 20-60 times. Sure, the problems in question may be a little different, but the shock that a “newbie” will experience won’t happen to you. You have seen it all before and will tackle it with the tools you have honed over your career.

The next issue is that although you have done x, y AND z in your last job, this one only requires x. It is sort of like having a car with air conditioning in Alaska in the winter or a car with a heater in Florida in the summer. What can one do with those left over product benefits?

The story to tell is that although you have done many things in your career, you have decided that you prefer to focus on just one (or two) for the next piece of time. You will be amazed that almost everyone will believe you if you say it with conviction. Step one, of course, is for you to believe it.

Compensation is often the hardest issue about which to be convincing. It is just beyond the imagination of anyone who has never been out of work to understand that something is better than nothing. There is this American ideal that one should always make more money as you move up the ladder of success. Unfortunately, this isn’t always true.

We can all see examples out in the world where market forces cause companies to reduce prices to keep their employees working. Manufacturers cut prices of their products to keep the factories humming or to ensure that key employees have work to do. Consulting firms bid on projects at levels unheard of in good times for much the same reasons. That said, on an individual level it seems to be less credible that you would be willing to work for less.

Again, you first have to convince yourself that it is okay to work for less. The plain statement that you won’t have to travel as much as your previous high paying job, or any other lame excuse that will somehow bridge the gap will more than suffice. If you sound convincing, very few people will look a gift horse in the mouth.

The point is that you are gold and you are willing to sell your services for silver of the same weight. Is that a deal or what? Trust me, it is one that very few people will turn down.

Regards, Matt

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