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Advice on how to navigate and gain from the nightly FENG 'leads'

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After 20 years of stable job progession, I was faced with the daunting, unexpected task of landing an executive role twice within the last five years.  While it was challenging, I found the old 'rule of thumb' to be very accurate:  80+% of all job placements are done through networking, i.e., not through job boards, calling headhunters and sending resumes blindly to company websites.

One great resource was the nightly newsletter from the FENG that contained pages and pages of job leads.  However, beware:  the FENG has an odd contradiction that you must navigate in order to use the leads successfully.

The contradiction is this:  the FENG has strict (and very subjective) acceptance criteria for membership.  Many of my attempts to sponsor friends and colleagues for membership in the FENG have been met with rejection.  The reply from the FENG management is usually consistent (and vague):  the proposed member does not have an appropriate level of experience, title, years or any combo of those elements.  So associates of mine who have 15 years of experience and a VP title have been rejected... because they did not have 20 (or 25... or more) years... or they did not have a Controller, SVP, or CFO title, etc.

The rejections seemed fine... at first.  Meaning, it seemed positive that the FENG had strict acceptance criteria that would limit its membership to only 'executives'.  Until I began studying the nightly newsletter and the job leads.

It became very clear... and odd... that the leads were overwhelmingly targeted/best suited for that group of finance leaders in the 10-20 year experience range.  There is even a section towards the end of the nightly letter that contains job leads for those under 10 years of experience at the manager and senior staff levels.  Only on a rare occurrence can a 20+ year CFO-type executive find the rare 'needle in a haystack' lead that suits his experience and comp level.

When I questioned the leadership of FENG on this contradiction -- that only top finance execs are admitted, yet the leads do not apply to such members -- I received a vague reply.

Back to my point... not that the FENG is bad... by no means, it helped me network in a fantastic way.  Rather, my point about how to properly use the leads in the FENG newsletter, even though you may seem significantly overqualified for them.

The key goal of the FENG is networking.  Thus, use the leads as fantastic networking opportunities.  Meaning, if you see a lead for which you are overqualified, instead study (a) the company and (b) the recuiter (or the fellow FENG member who has the relationship with the recruiter).  If interested in either, reach out to them, explaining you saw the job lead in the FENG newsletter, understand you are overqualified, but want to make a connection for future opportunities at that company or with that recruiter.

That precise approach is what helped me network in a robust manner to land those two critical, high level jobs in the past five years!  Although you will find the FENG job leads as junior to your capabilities, you can polish the coal into diamonds by seeing the networking opportunity in each lead.


Topic Expert
Scott MacDonald
Title: President/Owner
Company: AlphaMac Resources, Inc.
(President/Owner, AlphaMac Resources, Inc.) |

I have also noticed that the job leads for "CFO's" are often times glorified Controller positions or even Accounting Manager positions. I was also dismayed to see that relocation was specfically excluded as a possibility. Whenever I see a CFO level position that excludes relocation I think that the company doesn't want the best talent but the cheapest. I also noticed that even for the positions for CFOs the pay ranges are very low, again portraying the impression that price is their ultimate decision point.

I answered several ads from the newsletter for which I was well qualified. I had hoped that given the audience of FENG the headhunter would have responded at least that they had received my application. But I never did. I subsequently stopped applying to positions from the newsletter.

I agree that FENG is a great organization for meeting other executives and appreciate the hard work that the organizers have done. I do see tremendous untapped potential in the organization as well. But will leave that discussion for another day.


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