EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

Networking is a contact sport

From our daily member newsletter on February 28, 2019

The FENG, as our name implies, is a networking group. I know some of you may be fooled from time to time by the fact that we publish job leads, but please don’t be confused. The sharing of job leads is an act of friendship, plain and simple. As much as we make every attempt to make the job leads we publish in our newsletter appropriate to our membership, and as much as we try to get them out to you within 24 hours, and as much as we try to encourage you to get recruiters at search firms and in human resources departments to post with us, the fact remains that 85% or more of you will find your [ Read more… ]

A sharp pencil

From our daily member newsletter on February 27, 2019

When it comes to writing, there is no more powerful tool than a sharp pencil. I long ago declared war on unnecessary words. Why? Because they are unnecessary. The normal space allotment for a resume is two pages. Okay, if you have to go to three I might be able to live with it, but generally two is the limit. If you make it three, make it three full pages, not 2 ½. It is not much space to describe the accomplishments of a lifetime, but you are making a mistake if you think it is necessary to describe each and every thing you have ever done. If you are as old as the hills like most of us, there [ Read more… ]

Bad first impressions

From our daily member newsletter on February 26, 2019

It is an old saw that “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.” Although I write about email from time to time, it hasn’t really improved what I am getting from all of you, but I know change comes slowly to us financial types. In an effort to bring the point home a little clearer and perhaps build on the real issues involved in email, I will add a few more thoughts tonight. When I first started The FECG with Bruce Lynn and Doug Fine in 1999, I knew I just had to have a cell phone because I would be out of the office a lot. Well, not really true anymore. I am amazed [ Read more… ]

How quickly skills are lost

From our daily member newsletter on February 25, 2019

The snow storm that hit Connecticut a few weeks ago is to a degree, long forgotten. Except for a few odd places, there isn’t even any snow on the ground. It was all very exciting, at the time, but one thing I would share with you is that I never go out on the first day of a big storm. (And, sometimes not on the day after either.) It goes well beyond my well-founded fear of hitting a tree or something. I grew up poor in Northern Indiana and logged many a mile on snowy and ice packed roads in an old car much in need of new tires. I got pretty good at driving on slippery surfaces. Still, why [ Read more… ]

A point in time

From our daily member newsletter on February 24, 2019

One of the very lovely things we do in our family is spend several days each summer at the Mystic Seaport Museum in Mystic, Connecticut. And, if luck is on my side, we get to be there on the 4th of July when the excitement is palpable. What is unusual about this museum is that it is a living museum. Most of the ships in their exhibits are in working order, not able to actually put to sea, but they do have sails on their yards. The sail handling demonstrations are very real. You can even participate if you have a mind to do so. (I always do.) As a sailor, it is easy to put yourself back in the [ Read more… ]

The value of free advice

From our daily member newsletter on February 21, 2019

There is, of course, the old saw that free advice is worth what you paid for it. That said, it has been my experience that some of the advice I have paid for over the years was worth less and in some cases was worthless. (Notice the interesting play on words.) I think the operative expression when it comes to the advice you receive is “consider the source” and also consider the motives of those passing out the advice. The FENG is awash in “free” advice. Still, I hope that you will take very seriously the words of wisdom that are contained in our evening newsletter and use that which you believe to be valid to great advantage as you [ Read more… ]

A focus on the people

From our daily member newsletter on February 20, 2019

More and more when I talk to members considering job opportunities, the question comes up about how to choose between two similar situations. Of course, any two situations are never totally similar. There are always obvious differences in responsibilities, titles and compensation. And, if one of the jobs isn’t local, the situation becomes even more complicated because of family situations involving relocation. If you have been made an offer, chances are they like you. People in a position to choose who THEY want to work with are normally selecting between two or more specific individuals who may both be technically competent to do the job. When push comes to shove, they usually go for the person they want to potentially [ Read more… ]

It’s always about you

From our daily member newsletter on February 19, 2019

There was a very silly movie that came out many years ago with Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts called “The Mexican.” The most memorable scene if you recall the advertising for the movie has Julia Roberts standing on a balcony throwing Brad’s clothes at him and screaming “It’s always about you!” For many people who are job searching, they seem to take the same approach. In the world of give and take, you give and they take. Let me be clear. I was unemployed for almost two full years and I understand the stress that job search causes on you and on your family. Being unemployed is probably worse than having root canal. Never having had a root canal, I [ Read more… ]

Maintaining the consistency of multiple databases

From our daily member newsletter on February 18, 2019

I’m not sure if all of you are aware of it, but The FENG is driven off of the ONE database we maintain of your directory listings. Our RSVP system and The FENG Forum all derive their usefulness from being driven off this primary source of information and never have to be synchronized. Here at world headquarters, we have many sneaky ways of keeping your directory listings current. For example, every message you write to me or to one of our administrative staffers is checked against your directory listing. That is why I preach frequently about your having an outgoing signature. It allows me to ensure that you will remain properly connected to your fellow members. We also have a [ Read more… ]

Some amazing things

From our daily member newsletter on February 17, 2019

Should I ever retire to do stand up comedy, I can assure you that I have more than enough material to keep any audience in stitches for hours. As Chairman of The FENG for the past 23 years, I have to tell you that I always thought that things would improve, but now I know (sadly) that they won’t. Here are a few things that fall into the category of either “I don’t know whether to laugh or cry,” or “You can’t make these things up.” 1. Some people don’t know how to spell their own names. Hard to believe, but every week there is at least one new member applicant who is incapable of completing their information without at [ Read more… ]

Buggy whip manufacturing

From our daily member newsletter on February 14, 2019

For those members who are looking for a job just like the one they had, it may be time to take a good hard look around and see if this is a practical problem. Like the buggy whip manufacturers of old, some jobs and some industries are just not coming back. If you are in one of the hard struck areas of expertise or industries, what practical game plans are there? Not an easy question, but if it was easy, I wouldn’t be addressing it as tonight’s editorial. First, I have to ask you to believe that you must have acquired some transferable and applicable knowledge during your long career. The problem in evaluating your own information is that you [ Read more… ]

Reads and follows directions

From our daily member newsletter on February 13, 2019

If asked, I would be the first person to suggest that posted job leads are not where you need to focus your energies. That said, anytime you do respond to one, it pays to take a few minutes and actually read the posting and see what the requirements are. No, I am not talking about the job requirements themselves. After the first few sections you know whether or not the job is “you.” Still, you might want to give it a hard read with respect to must haves if for no other reason than to ensure you are sending the right resume if you have several versions. And, if it is “spot on” your background, it may even pay to [ Read more… ]

The Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus

From our daily member newsletter on February 12, 2019

I hope that none of you still believe in the Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus. In much the same vein, I hope that all of you are smart enough to know that there is no job board with an exclusive list of job leads. And, anyone trying to sell you job leads should be viewed with suspicion. If you think my comments about the value of job boards available to you for a fee are harsh, my thinking about the free boards isn’t much better. While there may be job leads available on some board that you haven’t seen elsewhere, the real question to ask yourself and to ask your friends is do any of you know anyone who has [ Read more… ]

Why Sundance wouldn’t jump

From our daily member newsletter on February 11, 2019

For those of you who remember the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, there was a memorable scene where Butch and Sundance were cornered on the edge of a cliff and the only way out was to jump into a river and float away. As you may recall, Sundance was reluctant to jump, and only with much prodding did he confess to Butch that the reason he didn’t want to jump was that he couldn’t swim. In an effort to reason with him, Butch at this juncture pointed out to him that the fall was probably going to kill him. Impressed with this logic, the two of them proceeded to jump. Fortunately, the movie didn’t end at this point [ Read more… ]

A gasoline rag tune up

From our daily member newsletter on February 10, 2019

Many years ago I had to buy my son a car to get to school. So, we went down to the local used car lot and I spotted a Ford Escort. It was kind of cute. If memory serves, it was black and it was a stick shift. Having grown up poor, I wasn’t new to buying a used car. I opened up the hood and the engine was spotless. I was kind of surprised given the number of miles on the car and when I asked about it, the dealer told me he had steam cleaned the engine. Among the many things he told me he fixed was that he had replaced the windshield. Hard to sell a car [ Read more… ]

Successive approximations

From our daily member newsletter on February 7, 2019

In the accounting mindset, there is only one answer. The books either balance or they don’t balance. I guess this is what I have always found so satisfying about our craft. Ah, the symmetry of it all! Artists as well as other creative types on the other hand seem to have a problem with this concept. For them, there are lots of possible answers to each and every question, some of which contradict the others. How untidy, don’t you agree? As we move away from our core skill of certainty into the world of marketing our backgrounds, it is hard to make the conceptual break. Not only is there not one right resume, there is no right 90-second announcement and [ Read more… ]

Coming in second

From our daily member newsletter on February 6, 2019

It can be very frustrating to be told that you were number two. It gives you the feeling that if you had only done something different, presented something in a different way, (worn matching socks) the job might have been yours. If it happens to you more than once, it kind of makes you feel like you are “always the bridesmaid, and never the bride.” But, do you really know if you truly were number two? Perhaps you were number three or four. You just really don’t know, and frankly, IT DOESN’T MATTER. As I have often been heard to say “Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.” Being the first choice is the only thing that wins the [ Read more… ]

Do the “experts” know anything?

From our daily member newsletter on February 5, 2019

I have observed over my life that most of the people identified as experts are wrong a very high percentage of the time. In much the same way that a clock that has stopped is right twice a day, some acknowledged experts are identified by the media as genius only because they inadvertently made a correct guess at just the right time. Sometimes they have even been right despite themselves, but that never gets discussed. In addition, I hope you have also observed that the same talking heads who were wrong also have an explanation as to why they were wrong. It is all very amusing. Overcoming unconscious age bias is extremely difficult. Overcoming blatant age discrimination is even harder. [ Read more… ]

Little white lies

From our daily member newsletter on February 4, 2019

Sad to say, a lie is a lie is a lie. Some would also argue that the withholding of important information is also a lie. I believe this to be the truth and you probably do too. One would have to wonder then why those of us of the accounting profession who pride ourselves on “no surprises” and never telling a lie, feel the need not to show college graduation dates, and if we are really old, some of our first jobs. I would have to ask those who do these things if they would ever hire someone they thought was hiding something about their background. I tend to think not. If you are telling a little white lie or [ Read more… ]

Taking job specifications seriously

From our daily member newsletter on February 3, 2019

I just don’t think that I will ever see in my lifetime a job specification that calls for a minimum of 30 years of work experience. If you ever see one, I do hope you will send it my way so I can frame it. For those of us who are “well experienced,” it can be a difficult decision applying for a job that only calls for 8-10 years of experience. As in the age old question of “How many men does it take to turn in a light bulb?”, at what point can someone early in their career be considered for a job as a Chief Financial Officer or Controller. And if this is all the company feels is [ Read more… ]