Expertise Has Value


As Seen in CFO Studio Magazine Q2 2017 Issue

-By John Moskonas, President, The ARGroup of Search Companies

Building an internal industry reputation helps in a job change

Sometimes we get two competing offers: one from an industry in which we have expertise; and another from a new industry in which, rather than experience, we have a transferable skill. The question becomes, should I take the offer from a new industry or do I take the one from the industry I know?

There are benefits to both, but I often walk someone through the thought process regarding accepting an offer from another industry.

Generalist or Specialist

I once wrote about positioning yourself as a generalist versus a specialist when looking for a job. Specialists know what they are good at doing and look to uncover those situations where they can apply what they know to a role. A specialist has a general reputation for getting a job done. A specialist also usually has an internal industry reputation.

The conclusion: It’s better to position yourself as a specialist when looking for a job because you’ll set yourself apart from the competitive landscape and you’ll hear about more opportunities than you would if you were positioning yourself as a generalist who could do any job.

And this focus on being a specialist applies not only to a functional skill set but also to an industry. An internal industry reputation is the sum of accomplishments and relationships/ touch points you have with all the players in that industry. You are usually active in that industry, you are usually well networked with your peers, and you have positioned yourself as a subject matter expert (SME) in your field. You don’t just have a job; you have a strong internal industry reputation.

This industry focus gives you a powerful foundation from which you’ll hear about relevant roles, from which you can be impactful in a company, and from which your speed of accomplishments isn’t held up by any learning curve.

Is it possible to build an internal industry reputation in another industry in a reasonable amount of time? Yes, of course, but at the end of the day, assuming your industry isn’t going downhill quickly, the expertise you’ve derived from going deep into an industry and that you bring to the table gives you an invaluable perspective that others don’t have. It sets you apart, it positions you as an SME.

Sometimes, of course, we don’t have the luxury of two competing offers and the situation dictates the decision. So, where we have an offer from a different industry, we take it. Taking an offer from a different industry, of course, isn’t necessarily a bad thing because you can minimize your risk down the road by having a new industry under your belt.

Bottom line: Going deep into an industry is a smart way to go.

The Search


As Seen in CFO Studio Magazine Q3 2015 Issue


If you’re in the middle of a job transition, there is always the desire to find that perfect role as quickly as possible, to make an informed decision as quickly as possible, and to cross this “to do” (find a job) off of your list so you can move on with your life. You are often in uncharted territory; there is a lot riding on finding your next situation, and you just want to get it done.

As someone who had been “out of a job” for 17 years, in the sense that I’m always looking for jobs on behalf of other people, I can share firsthand that in order to keep your mind and emotions balanced while you’re in the middle of a search, you have to be consistent with your job search activity.

There is a tendency, however, when an opportunity looks promising, to sell yourself on the hope that the opportunity will work out, to the exclusion of continuing to perform the activities that got you to that point in the first place.

What are these activities?

Whether you are between situations or not, every day is essentially a day of branding, marketing, and selling, and these are the essential components for networking yourself into your next opportunity.

Your Personal Job

I know it sounds very sales-like to a finance executive, but, outside of performing your core skills on the job, you are always branding, marketing, and selling. You brand yourself when you become involved in peer groups within your industry. You market yourself when you communicate your value proposition by your words and actions to the colleagues with whom you interact. You sell yourself when you pick up the phone and speak to a new referral or extend your hand to someone new at a conference. These are the actions that eventually get you to new opportunities, often at times when you really need them.

The challenge when you are working is to find time to do the “selling” of yourself. The challenge if you are between situations is that you’ll find yourself doing more “selling” than you’ve had to do before, and this can be difficult once you run out of new contacts. At that point you start to look for more creative ways to get in touch with people. It’s a process, and a process you need to continue. There are no shortcuts.

So, if you find yourself selling yourself on the hope that an opportunity will work out, remember that the operative words in any search are “work out.” Nothing is done until it’s done. You need to let the process work itself out by focusing on branding, marketing, and selling yourself. Resist stopping your activity. If you find that a particular opportunity has stalled but you have enough other opportunities in the hopper, it will be easy to say “next” and “next” and “next” until you find yourself in a position of saying: “I accept your offer.”

Copyright 2017