Last year after I wrote the article, What I Look for in Choosing a New Credit Manager, I have continued to receive inquiries from credit professionals asking for my thoughts, especially in this economy, about changing jobs. 
Bearing in mind that I’m not an executive search consultant or career coach, but a businessperson who has years of hiring and managing employees in the credit and collection field, allow me to share a few ideas on whether or not looking for a new position makes sense in this economy. 

1) Your company is having severe financial difficulties – I think it should be fairly obvious that if your company is struggling to keep the lights on and/or make payroll, then for your own survival you need to get your resume out there as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, you’ll be facing a lot of competition. The bright side however is that the entire world is now your credit risk management job market oyster!

Many foreign companies are looking for U.S. credit risk management professionals who can work remotely, especially those individuals who have credit credentials from the NACM, FCIB, or the CRF. There’s really nothing to hold you back from including overseas companies in your target employment opportunity market. In addition, if you are fluent in a foreign language, which is also the language of a future overseas employer, that would really enhance your employment prospects. 

The only thing that may be a bigger stumbling block to being hired is how you will be compensated, whether as an employee, a consultant, or a subcontractor. There are several legal, tax, and employment rules which need to be carefully addressed from both sides, and hopefully these things will get worked out if and when the offer comes along. 

2) Your company is financially stressed but still viable – Welcome to what most companies in this economy are facing. That said, there’s nothing wrong with testing the waters and seeing what’s out there. But if you and your employer have a good relationship and they are doing everything they can to move forward, seeing if the grass is greener on the other side might not be a prudent move. Even if you were to find another position, we never know in this unpredictable economy if that new employer might also fall on hard times, and then you’d find yourself questioning whether to make another move. 

Many times, credit professionals operate in a reactive role to what sales is doing. As long as orders continue to come in, the wheels of the credit department turn. My suggestion is that it might be better to try and turn your credit department into a sales generating machine by doing two things:

  • Encourage an increase of sales activity towards selected customers – Every company has its share of customers who occupy a significant percentage of its sales and that always pay on time. Are sales to these customers being restricted due to credit policy terms? By incorporating appropriate credit tools and controls that allow you to increase credit limits safely, you’re directly supporting your sales team’s efforts to sell more to those customers. In other words, rather than waiting for your sales team to ask you to approve more credit, by informing them in advance that they can sell more to particular customers, you are turning the credit department into a proactive vehicle of sales facilitation and expansion. 
  • Help to bring past customers back to life – As part of bringing credit files up to date, credit managers will often come across customers that haven’t purchased products in a year or more. Although there’s a tendency to put these accounts in a closed file drawer, sending a list of the accounts over to the sales department may trigger a renewed interest in approaching those customers. Some customers that started out buying regularly but then slowed or stopped may need to be contacted by the sales department in order to find out what happened. Sometimes there’s a problem that went unattended or a competitor that filled in a gap. Whatever the reason, when the credit department, through its work, can bring certain stagnant accounts to the attention of the sales department, this may help to bring a few of them back to life. 

3) You need a new type of working flexibility – Even through the pandemic, many companies still require some of their team members to physically come into the office. For some employees, this is just not practical anymore. With their children going through virtual learning at home and the risk of possibly getting infected, some employees need to find another position that will give them: (a) flexibility and (b) safety through a remote working environment. So yes, in my book these two requirements would certainly support your efforts to search for and transition to a new employer. 

4) It’s time to do what makes you happy – I’ve always felt that no one wins when an employee is unhappy or unfulfilled at their job. If the feeling of being unfulfilled at your current position is especially amplified by the stressors brought about by this pandemic, then by all means it’s time to spread your wings and try to fly to a new opportunity. What I would ask yourself is, “What is it about the current job that is making it unfulfilling? Does it have to do with you, your employer, or both?” Sometimes people will change positions without really getting to the bottom of what the problem of unhappiness was, and then find that they’re still unfulfilled in their new position. 

Whatever decisions you make about your employment and career status, careful consideration and planning will go a long way in helping your decision making process. 

This article was edited by Steven Gan.

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