EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

Since 1991 (when I was out of work for the first time in my career), I can’t begin to even estimate how many 90-second announcements I have heard. I also can’t tell you how many I have given. It is an interesting process to be sure.

When I was in the Army back in 1969, the “Who am I” question was always answered by some description of what you did when you were “back on the block.” Since many of us didn’t want to “own” what we were at that moment in time, it was logical and comfortable to refer back to civilian life.

In college, the “Who am I” question was usually answered in the present. You were your major, or you were your social organization. (I was in a fraternity.)

Often times the process of looking for a new job is complicated by our own personal definitions of who we are. It is at once comfortable, familiar and at the same time a wish or plan for the next stage in our careers. The difficulty comes in when we “over define” ourselves.

If you have been attending networking meetings I’m sure you have heard your fellow members announce that they are looking for a job as a Chief Financial Officer job at a consumer products company with $300 million to $500 million in sales, located in (you fill in the blank).

The truth is that “you can’t go home again.” The job where you were most recently may or may not define you. It certainly shouldn’t be viewed as a strait jacket from which you may have trouble escaping. (Unless you are Houdini.)

Out in the world of work, one of the great fears of “hiring authorities” is that if you have been doing A, B, C & D, if the job only entails A, B & C, you won’t be happy. (It is amazing at times how concerned potential employers are in your happiness, but they are.)

As you get more and more “over qualified” in your career, the problem gets worse and worse. The likelihood of finding a job where you can do A, B & C is bad enough. Finding one where you can do A, B, C, D, E, F & G just isn’t going to happen.

It is important to really take a hard look at all the wonderful achievements you have had over the course of your career and zero in on the ones of most value to the world as we know it today. Sure, the historical FUNCTIONS you have performed are important, but they honestly aren’t the “be all, end all” that many folks make them out to be.

If you really analyze what you have been doing, you may even find that you have been engaged in a series of important projects under the mantle of your title, and in truth you have developed a series of skill sets in high demand, if you can only rid yourself of the artificial and perhaps misleading definition you have created about “Who you are.”

I will, of course, always know you as a “member in good standing of The FENG.” However, my preference is to know you as an Alumni member. So, shake off those preconceived notions of who you are and what you can do.

If you do, there is a good chance the “hiring authorities” will as well.

Regards, Matt

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