EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

The title of this editorial is actually: “The consummate professional in an electronic world,” but I thought that was a little long.

As senior financial professionals, we tend to stay in our jobs a long time. Up until I was 46, I only had 3 jobs. Who you are and what you are tends to be known by other members of the organization, especially if you are the Chief Financial Officer, or in some other senior level management position. Even when you are not in the room, people feel your presence.

Because you hold the checkbook and most likely have the ear of the CEO, knowing who you are and how you think about things is vitally important to those around you. We tend to be the ultimate “inside person.” We also know what most folks in the company might do before they know. That’s why we earn “the big bucks.”

Once you are plunged into job search, all the rules change. In this strange land, you are not well known. In fact, no one knows ANYTHING about you. If you have all new suits, matching socks and shined shoes, no one knows.

All they know is what they see, electronically. (This includes by phone.) As my Grandmother used to say: “The worm that lives in the horseradish thinks the whole world is horseradish.” Honestly, what would he (or she) know? He has never been out of that jar.

In much the same way, each and every communication from you tells a story about you. I would argue that in this electronic world in which we live, you can at no time afford to risk looking like anything other than the consummate professional. All your “i’s” need to be dotted and your “t’s” need to be crossed.

To those new to typing their own correspondence, this can become a trial by fire. I was fortunate to have decided to learn how to touch type when I was in High School. At the time the argument was that when you were an executive, you would have a secretary to do your typing. Welcome to the real world. You are now in charge of all of your personal communication, even if you are still working.

So, what does your email look like? Do you have an outgoing signature, and if you do, does it look right? Call me a compulsive, and I have been called worse, but numbers are supposed to line up. As an accountant, I would think everyone in The FENG would know that. Others who see your “product” may not be able to put their finger on what is wrong, but they sense that something is.

As an example, pick one of the following styles for phone numbers:
(203) 227-8965 Office
(203) 820-4667 Cell

Or
Office (203) 227-8965
Cell (203) 820-4667

Or
office (203) 227-8965
cell (203) 820-4667

A small point? Perhaps, but life is made up of small points.

Let me ask if your resume is properly “dressed up.” Is there bolding in the right places? Is all of the formatting consistent? Have you made an effort to eliminate “widows?” (That’s where one word appears on the next line.)

All I know about you is what you send me. The fact that you are a good parent, go to an expensive hair dresser, wear fancy clothes, I will never learn. My impression of you is limited to a simple view, sort of like looking through a pair of binoculars. You are off in the distance.

And, assuming your written missives move me to call you, does your phone sound professional? I can’t begin to tell you how many folks I call don’t have a message at all. Yes, they are using the computer generated one! Hard to believe. Or, they are so afraid that someone might actually call them with bad news that they only provide the number you called. (What’s that all about?)

Have you called yourself recently to hear what you sound like? Do you sound authoritative and sure of yourself? Or, have you simply not taken the time to record and rerecord your telephone message on your phones? It is yet another “face” of who you are and what you are that I will encounter when I try to reach you. Will I be surprised and/or disappointed by what I hear and will it make a bad impression on me?

Life isn’t always fair. It is my belief that most members of The FENG are pretty good at what they do and they deserve to find work opportunities appropriate to their “station” in life.

The path to this objective is paved with the individual stones you place in the path you build to your door.

Make sure all of them give off the aura of the consummate professional that you are.

Regards, Matt

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