EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

One of the great mysteries of this world is why consultants are expected to be over qualified for any job, but when it comes to hiring on a full time basis, companies don’t want anyone who is over qualified. Go figure.

The frequent comment from clients for consulting work is “I hope I am not going to have to pay for training time.” Yet, when faced with the wonderful prospect of hiring someone who has been there and done that, most companies shy away.

They are just so concerned about your being bored that the very idea that you may not be learning anything really new is a major obsession with them. Have any of them ever been unemployed? Now that’s boring! Oh how I missed doing spreadsheets when I was out of work in 1991 and 1992. (I missed a whole incarnation of Lotus 123!)

When you are selling from a full wagon, it is necessary to understand that the “elephant sitting in the room” is going to eat your lunch unless you explain why you will be a happy camper. Very briefly, until you address the issue that is staring both parties in the face, not much communication is going to take place.

Let’s face it, age discrimination is illegal. The person sitting across from you is looking for the right opportunity and the right words to ask the question: “Aren’t you going to be bored, or worse yet, leave us if and when a great job comes along?” On this last point, the phrase “from your mouth to God’s ear” comes to mind.

If you want them to focus on how peaceful you are going to make their lives because they will never have to follow up on you or check your work because you know how to get stuff done, you are going to have to get this silly and irrelevant issue out of the way as early in your interview as possible. My suggestion is that you bring it up.

When you bring it up, you can discuss it in your own words and on your own terms. You can put into evidence the words and phrases you think will best sell your position to the company. This is instead of “being caught” in an obvious lie – that you are too old or too dignified to do the kind of work required by this job. (Don’t forget to mention your afternoon nap – required, and the fact that you have frequent doctor appointments. I also hope they understand that you will need someone who can travel with you on business to carry your suitcase and laptop computer because of your bad back. I don’t know if I would go into the issue of your failing eye sight. There is something about a blind accountant that can be a real turnoff to hiring executives.)

How hiring someone who has seen a few recessions is a bad idea continues to stump me. Yes, I know the old model of who fits in what kind of job is out there. You need to recognize it too.

When I was 35 I hired a 50 year old Controller to work for me. It was the best decision I ever made. He was the salt of the earth, had the respect of the staff, and was a grown up. He also made my life easy.

Now, all we have to do is educate the rest of the world. I hope you will help. (Especially since it is in your self interest.)

Regards, Matt

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