EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

I don’t know if all of you know it, but I started my career in retailing at B. Altman & Company, one of the old line “Carriage Trade” retailers in New York City, and an interesting place to be sure.

To be successful in this retailing segment you had to treat your customers’ right. All merchandise was returnable, and to the amazement of this Internal Auditor at the time, was accepted for full credit even when sometimes it hadn’t been purchased in the store.

It is this “the customer is always right” attitude that I try to apply in The FENG to our many audiences. If there is something we are “doing” to one another or to some group outside of The FENG, I hope you will take the time to let me know so I can use my “bully pulpit” to communicate back out to our membership how we might “improve.”

Tonight I would like to call your attention to the search community.

People only know what they know. If a member of the search community has a bad experience with The FENG, it is hard to undo this bad impression. Our challenge at all times is to convince them that it makes sense to post jobs with us.

Although I would still argue that you are best advised to use networking, networking and more networking in your quest for that perfect “work opportunity,” the search community can’t be ignored and must be considered. As you know, a reputation is difficult to build and is easily shattered.

What I need for all members who read our newsletter and respond to postings that are contained within to keep in mind what is at stake. When you see a posting under my name or under that of another member and there appears to be a relationship, take a few extra seconds before you click and shoot. The rule is, if you wouldn’t hire you, don’t respond.

When a job goes out to search, there is usually a reasonable fee involved and companies expect the firm they have engaged to earn its money. That means if your candidacy doesn’t make sense, you aren’t going to be presented. The obligation on your part is if you feel you can do the job and you don’t look like a fit on paper, you need to change the paper or not respond.

A few examples might help. Let’s say the job is for a Manager or Director of Financial Planning and you have been Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer of a recognized corporation, do you really think you will be considered? It’s not that you can’t do the job, it’s just that your candidacy doesn’t make sense. The client is going to say “What are they smoking?” if you are put forward as a candidate.

If you are applying for a job in Minneapolis and currently live in Tampa, but the posting says no relocation, should you apply? Well, I would say no unless you can make the case that Minneapolis would make sense for you. Let’s say you graduated from the University of Minnesota. That would mean to me that you know what the weather is like, and it may mean you have ties to the area. (This might be a good thing to mention in your cover letter.)

I learned a long time ago that you have to get your sales pitch in order to even get an appointment. While the person you pitch in person or by email may be sold on your credentials, they have to be able to repeat your “reasons why” in simplified form up the line. If you can’t honestly come up with a way to make that happen, consider not responding.

Working the other side of the street for a moment, take the time to talk to the search folks you meet and get them to understand the realities of posting in our newsletter. They sort of know, but they would rather blame us for over responding. They will meet us half way if they let us know the city location and the compensation and their real “must haves.” Set their expectations low enough that we don’t disappoint them.

There is nothing worse than an angry customer. As the head clerk in The FENG’s complaint department I can tell you the well accepted axiom that each angry customer tells 10 friends, while each happy one tells only one or two.

Let’s keep them shopping at our department store.

Regards, Matt

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