6 Small Things that Can Have a Big Impact On Your Career

GUEST BLOGGER

Kathy Lavinder, CFE
Owner and Executive Director of Security & Investigative Placement Consultants

When it comes to the job hunt, sometimes it’s the small things that have the biggest impact. After 15 years recruiting anti-fraud specialists I’ve seen countless instances when attention to detail and good manners have carried a candidate over the finish line. Here are some small things that you should not overlook when searching for a job:

Be responsive: When a recruiter, an associate, a professional contact, or a hiring manager calls or emails about a position, respond in a timely fashion. It’s shocking how many candidates take days or even weeks to reply after an initial contact. That’s a surefire way to miss out on what could be a great opportunity. It’s equally shocking how many people have voicemail boxes that are full and won’t accept messages. Opportunity may not come knocking twice, so be ready.

But don’t be too hasty: If you’re responding to an overture in writing, thoughtfully compose your reply. Make sure to avoid grammatical or spelling mistakes. Don’t expect anyone to overlook issues just because the reply is sent from a smart phone. Attention to detail is important in even the most basic of communications. Also, avoid jumping to conclusions about the role you’ve been contacted about. Make an informed decision once you’ve learned more, as opposed to a knee-jerk response.

Be on time: Just to state the obvious, being late for any interview – phone or in-person – is unacceptable and almost always a deal breaker. Strong organizational and time management skills are essential for all fraud fighters and job seekers.

Be a good listener: Anti-fraud practitioners should have well developed listening skills, so make sure those are on display during any conversations about a potential career opportunity. Avoid asking questions that can be answered by a careful reading of the position description. The hallmark of a good listener is in the quality of follow-up questions he or she poses. Not only will you glean valuable information, but you’ll impress the interviewer when your questions reveal thoughtfulness and an insightful understanding.

Dress the part: Your clothing, makeup, and grooming choices all communicate things about you.  Polished shoes, trimmed nails and hair, ironed clothing and business-appropriate attire are expected. Candidates who miss the mark on any of these will be at a disadvantage should their skills and experience be comparable to other candidates who are suitably turned out.

Good manners rule: The use of social niceties, such as please and thank you, is expected. Good manners reflect a respect for others and indicate not only an awareness of social norms, but the likelihood of being a good team player. A carefully crafted thank you note, either hand-written or via email, is essential after any interview. It not only communicates your appreciation for the other person’s time and attention, but is a great way to reiterate your interest in the role. Even if you have decided not to pursue the opportunity further, remember to say thank you. 

Hiring decisions are based on multiple factors and calculations, but any job seeker would be wise to get the little things right. They can only help your chances of getting hired. 

CFE Heard the Call to Fight Fraud as a Teenager

MEMBER PROFILE

Samuel Martin, CFE, CPA
Partner, Brotemarkle, Davis & Co LLP

Raised in the small town of Robbins, California, Samuel Martin, CFE, CPA, was in his teens when he witnessed a family friend lose his business, home and livelihood to embezzlement. The incident sparked Martin’s passion for fighting fraud within vulnerable small businesses. “I began reading and hearing more about how much of an issue this was with businesses today,” Martin said. “That [fraud] didn’t only affect the large corporations. The small business owners were being affected, too, and the impact was much larger on them.” 

You call yourself “Inspector Gadget” on your LinkedIn profile. Why do you think that title suits what you do in your role?
I think that title fits me because I spend nearly all of my time performing compliance audits for different companies and looking for ways to help small business owners improve their controls and become successful. I always look to technology to help improve this process and help business owners strengthen their controls, especially when they lack adequate segregation of duties. 

What do you wish you knew (but didn’t) when you first contemplated this career?
This career has evolved beyond someone sitting behind a desk all day crunching numbers. You need to be able to go out and talk to a lot of different people on a regular basis and sometimes give them information that they aren’t happy to receive. This could be a tough task for an introvert like me, but it’s enjoyable to know that by developing relationships, business owners respect your thoughts and are willing to embrace your recommendations. 

Did you always plan to pursue the position that you are currently in?
I always had a desire to help people. This seemed to be a natural fit, to be a person behind the scenes helping business owners with issues they might have, but who lack someone within their organization to solve these kinds of problems.

Are there any trends (e.g. demographic, social, legal) that concern you?
I have concerns around the increased desire for companies to streamline their processes as much as possible and the increased reliance on services like online banking. Without the proper oversight and segregation of controls, I think this is going to be a huge arena for misappropriation of assets. Bookkeepers already have the ability to pay utilities, car payments and credit cards via EFT, so if the owner or someone else is not watching what’s happening they could leave themselves exposed to serious issues.

What advice do you have for those looking to become a CFE?
I have a passion to help business owners prevent fraud from occurring within their organization, so for individuals looking to become a CFE there are a lot of different opportunities out there where the education and knowledge of the CFE can be useful in their careers. Gaining an understanding of how people commit fraud and what type of frauds are currently being committed helps with the continued analysis and development of internal controls. Recently I discovered how easy it is for an employee to alter payroll after being approved by adding reimbursable expenses to their paycheck and getting paid for expenses never incurred. This bypassed any approval process and the need to have a check signed.

When you are not working, what types of things do you enjoy doing?
When I am not in the office I enjoy do it yourself projects, especially wood working and home improvements. I like these types of projects; they allow me to take a pile of raw materials and transform them into a finished project. I can take an old piece of furniture that is ready to be tossed into the trash and spend some time restoring it back to something that can be enjoyed for years to come. 

Read Martin's full profile on ACFE.com.

Set Sail at the ACFE Global Fraud Conference in Baltimore

GUEST BLOGGER

John E. Grimes III, President, Maryland Chapter

The Maryland Chapter is thrilled that the 26th Annual ACFE Global Fraud Conference is being held in Baltimore this June. We are proud and excited to show off Baltimore’s charm and beauty to three -thousand members of the ACFE from around the world. Over the past three decades, Baltimore has emerged as a Renaissance City. Baltimore is home to Major League Baseball’s Orioles and the National Football League’s Ravens. Johns Hopkins Hospital, widely regarded as one of the world's greatest hospitals, and the Johns Hopkins University, are located in Baltimore.

Baltimore is the second largest seaport in the Mid-Atlantic, lying on the Patapsco River, a branch of the Chesapeake Bay. Baltimore’s beautiful Inner Harbor, just a block or two from the ACFE Global Fraud Conference venue and the conference hotels, attracts visitors from all over the world. The Inner Harbor is home to the National Aquarium, named one of the best aquariums in the U.S. by the Travel Channel. Another popular attraction located at the Inner Harbor is the Maryland Science Center, with three levels of exhibits, a planetarium and an observatory. Docked at the Inner Harbor are the historic ships USS Constellation, built in 1854, the USS Torsk, one of two Tech Class submarines located in the U.S., and the USCGC Taney, the last ship standing that fought at Pearl Harbor.

And of course, Baltimore’s harbor is the home of Fort McHenry. Fort McHenry is primarily known for the Battle of Baltimore during the War of 1812. American troops stationed at Fort McHenry stopped the British invasion of Baltimore. The battle inspired Francis Scott Key, who was aboard a ship behind the British fleet during the battle, to pen the poem, “Defense of Fort McHenry,” which was later renamed the “Star Spangled Banner.” The poem was set to the tune, “To Anacreon in Heaven" by John Stafford Smith and became our National Anthem.

There is so much to see and experience in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and so little time. So, what a better way to experience all that Baltimore’s harbor has to offer then taking a cruise? The Maryland Chapter has made arrangements for attendees of the ACFE Global Fraud Conference and their guest to tour Baltimore’s Harbor with a “Sunset Cocktail Cruise” aboard Baltimore’s premier cruise ship, the Spirit of Baltimore. The 2-hour cruise will set sail on Monday, June 15, 2015 at 6 p.m., after the conference sessions. The Spirit of Baltimore is docked just a block or two from the convention center and conference hotels. Included with the cruise will be a variety of eats, coffee, tea and a cash bar. DJ entertainment will take place on each deck.

The best news is that tickets for this spectacular evening are only $10 per person. The $10 per person fee will be donated to the ACFE Ritchie-Jennings Memorial Scholarship Fund. Tickets must be purchased in advance through the Maryland Chapter website at www.cfemd.org. Click on the link for the “Spirit of Baltimore Cruise” to register and pay. There is only room for 400 people, so I encourage attendees to register early to reserve a space. I hope to see you there!