EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

The reason you weren’t chosen

From our daily member newsletter on March 31, 2019

You would think that at this point in our lives our BS detectors would be well tuned. Unfortunately, when it comes to being rejected for a “work opportunity,” the “reasons why” we are given are more often than not taken as some kind of absolute truth. I am often asked by candidates for assignments I am handling for clients of The FECG, LLC (www.TheFECG.com) why they weren’t chosen. I wish I had an answer that provided some useful information. In the hundreds of assignments we handle in a year, I can count on one hand the number of times that a client has taken me through the entire batch and given me explanations why this one or that one wasn’t [ Read more… ]

You’re in my files

From our daily member newsletter on March 28, 2019

There are so many urban legends associated with job search that I generally don’t know where to start when I talk to new members. Since I get calls every week from members of the search community, I thought I would take a few minutes tonight and discuss the reality of your resume being on file with a particular recruiter. First of all, it is very easy these days to blast your resume out to lots of recruiters. Even if you lack a mail merge program such as the one I use to send out the newsletter, sending out a few hundred resumes by email is no big deal. Anyone can do it, and lots of people do. You can even [ Read more… ]

Sticking with a bad situation

From our daily member newsletter on March 27, 2019

Deciding whether or not to stick with a job you have just taken is a difficult choice indeed. Whether your job search has been long or short, the realization that you have made a mistake is enough to cause you sleepless nights. I know because it happened to me. After 9 years as CFO of an advertising agency (not exactly a walk in the park) and almost two years of unemployment, I had a short tour of 5 months as CFO of a firm in Connecticut. I now refer to this as the job from hell. (Or, for the more sensitive among us, the job from heck.) Anyway, sitting here tonight, it is hard to understand what made that job [ Read more… ]

Is industry experience overrated?

From our daily member newsletter on March 26, 2019

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 [ Read more… ]

Can you find me a job?

From our daily member newsletter on March 25, 2019

I’m not sure why people tend to lose their common sense when it comes to job search, but they do. Were it not for this tendency, the organizations that feed on the unemployed wouldn’t exist. And, try as we might to put them out of business, new miscreants arise out their ashes. I fully understand that job search is a stressful time in your life. I was out of work for two years, and the word stress doesn’t even begin to cover it. And, much like a person being rushed to the emergency room of your local hospital in an ambulance, you feel at times like those experts who are taking care of you must know best. I only wish [ Read more… ]

Building a theme song

From our daily member newsletter on March 24, 2019

Since 1997 when I began as Chairman of The FENG, I have been listening to 90-second announcements at our meeting here in Westport. My best guess is that I have heard at least 10,000 of them over the years. I guess you could say I can speak with some authority on this subject. (And no, my ears haven’t fallen off as a result.) Like most financial types, I do much better reading information than listening to it. If you handed me your pitch I would be better able to absorb it, no matter how you had structured it. What you are working against is the fact that speech is the slowest form of communication. (Smoke signals might be slower, but [ Read more… ]

The pot of gold

From our daily member newsletter on March 21, 2019

I often get the feeling from talking with members about their job search, that many of you are reluctant to use our Member Directory Search feature to full advantage as part of your job search. I only wish I understood why. The FENG membership directory is honestly the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It is a gold mine to all who delve into its many mysteries. It is a research tool and a resource that probably has no equal in the civilized world. (There I go again understating the value of our membership directory.) All other professions can eat their hearts out. Members of The FENG have agreed to open their good offices to one another, [ Read more… ]

You’ve been looking how long?

From our daily member newsletter on March 20, 2019

During the interviewing process we frequently get asked questions for which there is no good answer. I have my favorites of course, but having been out of work myself for almost 2 years back in 1991, the one I will address tonight is “Why have you been out of work so long?” (What a silly question. It’s because I haven’t found a job!) Now back in 1991 it was generally accepted that the country was in a recession. Still, after almost two years, it was a question that came up in interviews. And, it can come across as a tough question even when it begins as it does today with “I know the job market isn’t very good, but how [ Read more… ]

Selling into job leads

From our daily member newsletter on March 19, 2019

Job leads can be a tremendous resource for you, even if you aren’t interested in them. I know it sounds silly, but although most job leads aren’t going to interest you for one reason or another, it can still pay to read them. The most obvious problem with specific job leads is that they aren’t in what you define as an acceptable geographic region. That said, job leads are targets. By taking each and every job lead that you find of interest, geography aside, printing it out and studying it, you can easily advance your job search. In the “bad old days” of 1991 and 1992 when I was unemployed, it was still traditional to take your finished resume down [ Read more… ]

A sense of inner calm

From our daily member newsletter on March 18, 2019

When jobs are winding down, it can be very difficult to “keep it all together.” I’m sure we have all been there. During that final period of time, whether it is 3 weeks, 3 months, or even longer, as “the forces of evil” overwhelm the organization you have worked so hard to make profitable, it frequently appears that everyone turns on you. It really isn’t so hard to see why it is so stressful. As a person of integrity, my guess is that you have been doing your best to make the organization, your peers and your boss as successful as they can be. So, when they turn on you, it is hard to accept. Keep in mind that you [ Read more… ]

Dinosaurs can’t dance

From our daily member newsletter on March 17, 2019

Several years ago I got a note from one of our members of long standing complaining about the value of the leads in our newsletter. It was a well written message that cited chapter and verse about his experiences and I read it with great interest. Consistent with the experience of most of our members, this particular individual had been between jobs 3 times since joining The FENG, including the current search which wasn’t over yet. (As you know, you are never actually working, you are just between searches.) Although very careful in selecting positions to answer (qualified members only), he has on several occasions almost immediately gotten a response to one of his resumes telling him the job was [ Read more… ]

A new job on Monday

From our daily member newsletter on March 14, 2019

A few times each month I get a good news announcement from one of our members that begins with: “Please stop the newsletter, I am starting a new job on Monday.” It is at these times, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Starting a new job on Monday and already this individual is ready to disconnect themselves from our august body. Gosh, don’t you think he/she should at least wait until some of those paychecks clear? Sometimes they provide their new business card information, but sometimes they don’t. When they do, they sometimes conveniently leave off their new office phone number. In effect they are saying: “It was nice knowing you when I needed you.” I try not [ Read more… ]

Charles Darwin slept here

From our daily member newsletter on March 13, 2019

Although you wouldn’t know it from the influence it had on his thinking, one of the little known facts is that Charles Darwin actually didn’t spend all that much time in the Galapagos Islands. The Galapagos Islands cover a rectangle of about 125 miles from North to South and about 175 miles from East to West with about 13 significant islands and many small ones. As I understand it, Charles was only there for several weeks. And, instead of a cruise ship making about 15-20 knots with a rubber dingy powered by a 48 horsepower outboard on a preplanned tour, he was in a boxy square rigged ship with a few oar powered boats for getting to the islands. I [ Read more… ]

And playing the role of Matt Bud

From our daily member newsletter on March 12, 2019

One of the more difficult aspects of job search is the need to “play a role” that is not necessarily in keeping with our mental picture of ourselves. The question of “Who am I anyway?” comes up on a daily basis. If we are no longer employed or even if we are, the position description or the job we are responding to or the interview we are engaged in may require a total rethink on our part. If we have been Chief Financial Officer of a firm and “in command” but we are now competing for a Controller’s slot, our “less than subservient manner” may cause us to lose a position for which we are well qualified and one in [ Read more… ]

Putting your life back together

From our daily member newsletter on March 11, 2019

No matter what the crisis, it is a natural human instinct to try to put your life back together again. When it comes to the end of a long job search, the instinct is no different. Understand that you have been in crisis. And, the crisis probably didn’t begin at the exact moment you lost your job. Most likely there was also a period of time prior to that when you were preparing for the possibility of a search. In terms of a life crisis, job search ranks right up there. Talk about having to put your life on hold and doing without. When your income drops to zero, the necessary belt tightening can’t help but affect you, especially if [ Read more… ]

Before you hit send, think

From our daily member newsletter on March 10, 2019

One of those things about being on a boat that isn’t well understood by those of you who spend most of your time on dry land is what I call the sploosh syndrome. As a backyard mechanic, I have dropped nuts and bolts on the ground from time to time while working on my car, and though they might be hard to find in the dirt or the grass, if you search long enough and hard enough, you just might find them again. On a boat, however, most things dropped over the side are gone and will never be seen again. Sure, if it is big enough and you dropped it off the boat at the dock, you could have [ Read more… ]

The original unfair question

From our daily member newsletter on March 7, 2019

One of the worst and rudest questions any job seeker is asked is what the minimum salary is that they would accept. Although there is a file out on our website filled with tough interview questions, this one ranks up at the top of ones I would avoid answering directly at all costs. Hard to know if this is a question expressing serious interest in your credentials or if it is just a scare tactic of sorts to see whether or not you will blink. One thing you should know is that “the first liar never stands a chance.” If you allow yourself to go first, you have potentially locked yourself into accepting a salary level that you were honestly [ Read more… ]

Creating value from a negative

From our daily member newsletter on March 6, 2019

The story goes that my grandmother had a marble statue. When it came time to break up housekeeping she decided that this was something she would sell. She thought it would be a good idea to clean it up a bit, but in the process managed to knock off one of the fingers on the hand of the maiden with the bucket. When a prospective buyer came to view this rather unusual piece of art, he was taken with it almost immediately. However, as he examined it closely, he discovered “the flaw” and mentioned it to my grandmother, who without missing a beat told him that this was what showed its age. A product benefit was created from a potentially [ Read more… ]

Catch 22

From our daily member newsletter on March 5, 2019

In one of my recent editorials I “beat the drum” about being overly specific on your resume. Generally speaking, one must be very careful about the use of “jargon” on a resume. Arcane and sometimes what we assume are well known computer programs like SAP are not so well known by those reading resumes. In the book Catch 22 (if memory serves) there was mention of the fact that the world is always looking for specialists, and indeed they are. For some opportunities, the knowledge of programs like PeopleSoft, or even QuickBooks for smaller companies is EXACTLY what gets you the job. As it has been said, if you’ve got it, flaunt it. (If you don’t have it, cover it [ Read more… ]

How to be a Fanatic FENG’er

From our daily member newsletter on March 4, 2019

As I mention from time to time, The FENG is a NETWORKING group. It isn’t a job board. Just as Kermit the Frog found out that it isn’t easy being green, no one ever said it was going to be easy being a member of The FENG. Membership in our little society comes with a price. Sure, your cash contributions are helpful in keeping our website lights on and our administrative staff paid, but the real price I hope all members are willing to pay is in always having their “good offices” open to other members, no matter how busy they are. Many members are afraid to ask for favors. Let me put you at ease. Please know that in [ Read more… ]

Don’t shoot the piano player

From our daily member newsletter on March 3, 2019

If job search is one thing, it is stressful. The uncertainty, the very idea that others are sitting in judgment on your credentials without you there to defend yourself, can all work to cause you to over react to situations. My first job out of the Army in 1971 was in retailing at B. Altman & Company. A fine institution dedicated to customer service. They would take ANYTHING back. I understand that on more than one occasion they took back merchandise that they didn’t even sell to the customer who was complaining. Still, there are those customers who wouldn’t be happy if they got double their money back and if the manager and all of the employees at the store [ Read more… ]