EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

The current job market continues to throw a large fog bank over the senior executive job market.

Not just us financial types, but all college educated, well experienced executives are struggling with defining who they are and what they do to somehow match what they believe to be the opportunities out in the world.

When you are stuck in a fog bank as I have been from time to time (normally smart enough to be anchored at the time, but sometimes not), you can frequently hear other boaters running around you off in the distance. The hope is that they won’t come near your vessel and run into you at high speed. You see, there is an element of panic in their hearts and in an effort to find some familiar channel marker to enable them to feel safe, they tend to race faster and faster in all kinds of directions at once to try to correct what they BELIEVE to be an error in their judgment. The truth often is that they would be better off just dropping an anchor and waiting it out.

The sad truth is that there isn’t any place really safe. And, other than being anchored, out on the water you are always moving even when you think you aren’t.

The anchor of your career is your wealth of experience. Still, if you are a buggy whip manufacturer at the beginning of the automobile’s dominance, you know you are in trouble.

The question is how to build on your record of achievement in new arenas that ARE hiring using a rifle rather than a shotgun approach.

Many avenues not only appear to be off your radar screen, they actually are. As a practical matter, I couldn’t at this stage of my career become a qualified tax practitioner. The years of study, experience and interest just aren’t there.

So, what’s someone who would like to work supposed to do to develop a targeted approach to their search?

Let me start you out with the idea that “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” Whatever it is you know how to do, what you do next will represent some logical progression or branch from what you have done before. The answer will vary by person based on where they are in their career and what interests they have.

The goal is to be focused. To take a shotgun approach to the next step in your career will waste your resources, primarily time, and drain your energy to the point where you will come to believe that nothing will ever work, not unlike our friends zooming off in all directions in the fog.

Creating your very own reality would be very difficult were it not for the fact that all members of The FENG have well over 37,000 friends who would like to help. Of course, you shouldn’t try to contact all of them at once. (If everyone tried to do that, I suppose we could bring the phone system and the Internet to their respective knees.)

No, the suggested approach is a rifle one. Start with what you know and move out from there.

If you are a banker, start with other bankers. If you are an Internal Auditor, start with other Internal Auditors. If you are out of the Food Industry, start with other folks from the Food Industry. You have more in common with those who are just like you than with other members of the human race. All members are open to helping. These groups for you will just be more knowledgeable, will require shorter explanations, and as an added bonus, may already have come up with some pretty remarkable stuff. (Why give yourself an Excedrin headache when you don’t have to?)

For me, there is nothing so fine as to talk Advertising with my fellow Professional Services SIG members or Publishing with my fellow Media SIG members. I understand who they are and what they do, and from time to time I even have some suggestions that make sense and seem to help.

Fog, rifles and shotguns all add meaning to our lives and have their uses. We are blessed to live in interesting and challenging times.

After all, if this job search thing were too easy, it wouldn’t be as much fun. Anyone having success stories they would like to share should have at it. I prefer to not be the only one telling stories.

Regards, Matt

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