EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

I have over the years had endless discussions with our many members on the topic of disguising your age or generalizing your background and despite my best arguments, I find people still doing it. Hopefully it is not the same people. (Why don’t they listen to me?)

Actually, I am not whining. Everyone in our membership is an adult many times over. Still, in times of stress and with advice coming from all directions, much of which is in significant disagreement, it is hard to choose. Others provide compelling opinions as to why this or that is correct.

It’s just that they usually don’t past the “smell test.” All advice needs to be benchmarked by your own logic. Put yourself on the other side of the desk and think about how you would feel if you had been “tricked” into seeing someone based on a few “little white lies.”

I know we have all heard that “they” were looking for someone just like you, only younger. What could be the harm in shaving a few years off your resume by eliminating that first job and/or leaving off your dates of graduation? And, since you’ve heard that they are only interested in your most recent 10 years, why put on anything earlier?

I assume all of us at one time or another performed as auditors. It is a sort of basic skill set for us accounting types. We pride ourselves on being able to ferret out those bogus cash receipts on expense reports. (Who do they think they’re kidding?)

Well, I might ask you the same thing about your resume. Who do you think you are kidding when you “cheat?” I have personally reviewed about 100,000 resumes in the 20+ years I have chaired The FENG. I can spot missing information at a glance. It really isn’t that hard.

Being caught in a lie, even a white one, is never a good thing for a financial person. I have even been recommending that we no longer do that “to present” thing anymore if you really aren’t there. (If this is a lie with respect to your credentials, are there any other lies on your resume?)

If you graduated in 1968 as I did, just say so. They are going to find out anyway. If it is after they get excited about you they discover this fact, it is only going to burst their bubble. (And you don’t want to be standing or sitting nearby when that happens.)

The same thing goes when explaining your general background. If you are a Corporate Controller type of person, say so. Don’t say Chief Financial Officer. It’s not that you can’t be considered for a CFO role, it is just that you haven’t done it so far. You would be surprised how many folks would get excited about you as a CFO knowing that you have been a solid Corporate Controller. You don’t have to “put on airs.”

If you are a banker, you are not likely to be considered for a manufacturing financial job. No amount of disguising will make that happen. That said, you don’t have to “stick to your knitting” for your whole career, but you do have to present your credentials accurately.

In the case of someone with a 30+ year career, it is still possible to get another job. But, it will happen because you have presented your credentials in a way that makes sense. Your early career, which only needs to show titles and years, will likely present a strong upward career track. That is what will win the day.

If you pretend to be something you aren’t, you will be found out at some point. Be who you are.

I’m sure, who you are isn’t half bad, and is probably pretty darn good.

Regards, Matt

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