EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

For those members out of the buggy whip industry, changing industries is exactly what you have to do. It is for all of you that I dedicate tonight’s editorial. (You may substitute your industry if you prefer. It can also be true that you just don’t see much local opportunity in your industry and that you don’t want to move.)

The battle cry of “industry experience required” is a disheartening one to see in a job posting. It was amusing to say the least that at the beginning of the Internet bubble they were looking for Chief Financial Officers with 10 years of Internet experience who had successfully taken one of these little puppies public. (Yes, you can’t make this stuff up.)

Between you and me, you can only sell what is in your wagon. But who said that running your automobile through a car wash and applying a little paint in the right places can’t fix things up?

Let’s face it. No one ever has the exact industry experience any client ever wants. When I was looking for work in 1991 I had been Chief Financial Officer of a top 50 U.S. based advertising agency. Yes, but I had no experience at a LARGE agency. I was told more than once that this made me unqualified for such a job. And, I may have had experience in the publishing business at a College Textbook publisher, but that didn’t REALLY qualify me to work at any other kind of publisher. What a bunch of hooey!

(And you thought you only had age discrimination to worry about!)

Humans discriminate. That is how we have managed to survive on this planet. Still, all human beings react to reasoned arguments about this, that or the other thing – whatever they are.

In the box thinking, out of the box thinking – it is hard to know which approach to take. As I have been heard to say, a good analogy is worth a thousand pictures. (Did I get that wrong or what?)

Anyway, you may not have the right INDUSTRY experience for the job in question, but there must have been some reason why you stopped at that job posting. Is it possible that you saw yourself capable of doing the job? If you thought this was the case, can you develop a reasonable explanation (in 25 words or less) that you can put at the top of your cover letter? (By the way, “because” isn’t going to cover it.)

Forget about out of the box thinking, what is it in YOUR tool box of skill sets that will make it possible for you to be successful in those first 15 minutes or so on your first day to learn their business? (For you slow learners, it could take you till lunch time. I hope they will be patient with you.) Let’s face it, “debits are by the window and credits are by the door” at most companies. All you have to do is make your case.

There are some unique things about any company or industry. The key to your being successful in selling your background into a new “space” is in drawing a simple picture of why this might work. However, wishing won’t make it so any more than simply saying it is so.

As you identify industries that are related to your core background, do a little research. Although the Internet is a good place to start, you also have our Member Directory Search feature for The FENG. Your fellow members are always willing to share their knowledge and experience as long as you have taken a few first steps. (Please don’t expect them to “do it all” for you.)

Great ideas can cross over from industry to industry but they can’t without direct pollination. Someone has to be the bee and carry the new ideas.

(Do I hear a buzzing in the room?)

Regards, Matt

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