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Improving The Image of the Credit Professional
By Joanne Dunn, Joanne Dunn & Associates
and Michael C. Dennis, M.B.A., C.B.F., L.C.M

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We recently read an article that suggested this: "If you have a job in credit and you are happy with it, keep it. The grass often is not greener in another pastures". What the article did not address is what credit managers [and other credit professionals] can do to hang on to the jobs they have. These are some of the characteristics that companies are looking for in their credit department staff:

  • Professionalism. This would include technical skill and expertise in the field, as well as a commitment to continuing professional development.

  • A strong work ethic. Credit managers are expected to lead by example, and to leave only when the job is done. A strong work ethic by the department head can have a positive impact on the entire department.

  • A positive attitude. No one wants to work with a "sad sack". Even recognizing that the work performed by the credit department is not glamorous and is often stressful, credit professionals are expected to maintain a positive attitude about their work, and about customers, and about their interactions with the sales department.

  • Excellent communication and public speaking skills. This applies when the credit manager is writing a letter, sending a memo, attending a meeting, or making a presentation. All managers are evaluated in part on their communications skills, but in the credit department where success depends in part on the credit manager's ability to discuss, explain and negotiate with customers and others, strong communications skills are essential.

  • Motivational skills. A successful credit manager would be one that motivates subordinates, and enjoys their loyalty and respect and support.

  • Appearance. Like it or not, appearance counts. Many American companies have adopted a "business casual" dress code [and in some cases a casual dress code]. The key is moderation. There is something positive to be said about a manager that dresses a bit more conservatively than his or her peers. In other words, it is hard to be overdressed, but it is easy to be underdressed and an embarrassment to yourself and to your manager.

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