In the sea of career-related articles, newsletters, and blog postings out there, I’m always on the lookout for pieces that I feel are truly “exceptional” in terms of presenting some excellent and original points about today’s job market — and how professionals can adapt and thrive within it. The short essay I’ve pasted below falls into this category, at least to me. It was written by Matt Bud, Chairman of FENG (The Financial Executives Networking Group) and I’m reposting it in its entirety with Mr. Bud’s gracious permission.
From my own perspective, I’d just add that I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Bud’s premise that it’s almost always better in the long run to take a temporary or less-than-ideal job, if one materializes, rather than butting your head up against the unemployment market for a protracted period of time. Doing so not only provides much-needed cash flow, and confidence, but also helps keep one’s skills sharp and avoids the development of large gaps between various positions on a resume. Having said this, however, I still wouldn’t suggest this strategy until one had spent at least a few intensive months searching hard for the “right” position.
I’d also echo the points the author raises about people and technical skills now being the all-important ingredients of career success. While it may not be the message that some older workers necessarily want to hear, there’s no denying the reality that companies today are seeking people who can contribute vibrant networks and state-of-the-art competencies in their field. In years past, I think “institutional knowledge” counted a lot more in terms of one’s overall employability. Given the pace of organizational change today, however, such knowledge is now only of limited value — and might even be considered a detriment in certain situations.
Now on to the article…
AND NOW FOR TONIGHT’S EDITORIAL (author: Matt Bud)
“It is always better to be working. Given our current economic conditions, I thought I would repeat a thought I mention to those who ask. Plain and simple, it is always better to be working. The strategy you take early in your career has to be one of growth. Each job you take has to move you up the ladder of success. However, once you have been a Chief Financial Officer or Controller of a significant firm, and especially if you have reached the advanced age of mid-forties like most of our members, I would suggest to you that it is simply better to be working.
My own observation has been that most of our members move from large firms to smaller ones. The reason for this is pretty straightforward — parachuting in at the top of a large company closes off career tracks. That’s why large firms don’t generally hire senior executives. Those of us who have enjoyed long careers with one firm have to accept the fact that part of our compensation was the result of our intense knowledge of our firm. We knew the people, and we knew what they would do before they did. We could protect them from themselves, so to speak. That was why we earned the “big bucks.” If we now move to another company, we are in a sense pushed back to the value of our technical and people skills. Sure, we may click with the interviewer, but the truth is that there are lots of folks who have the technical and people skills to do any job. It is a market, and we may not have the same value to a new employer as we did to one we had been with for many years. Sad, but true.
As we set about on our quest to have a slightly larger office with more potted plants and a few more side chairs (and, of course, a slightly larger paycheck), I would suggest that you not lose sight of the fact that you need to be careful not to stay out of the game any longer than absolutely necessary. If you are not employed for an extended period of time, even those who know you and like you may start to believe that there is something wrong. There may not be, but perception is everything. What I am suggesting is that if you happen to stumble across a less than perfect job that is in fact offered to you, you might want to view it through the lens of your current age and real requirements. If you take a job for less than you used to earn, no one will actually know other than you.
Since you are a member of The FENG, you are actually keeping your job search active, and if something better comes along, you can take it. (Yes, I know all about ethics in business, but as far as I know in today’s world it isn’t illegal to quit a job for one paying more money.) You will, however, have been working, and you will be perceived for this new opportunity as more valuable than if you had waited it out.”
Matthew R. Bud, Chairman
The Financial Executives Networking Group
32 Gray’s Farm Road, Weston, CT
(203) 227-8965 Office | (203) 820-4667 Cell | (203) 227-8984 Fax