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Archive for the category “Career Direction”

Last Post and Launch of

English: PACIFIC OCEAN (Nov. 6, 2007) - Flight...

Well this is going to be my final post on the twinpillars site. Starting out here from scratch on my first attempt at blogging less than 12 months ago I had no idea how this was going to turn out. It has been both fun and very rewarding.

I know what busy lives you all lead so I feel truly honoured by the steadily growing number of you who take the time to stop by and read my thoughts here.

Thank you!

I now invite you to join me on the new site smartcareerstrategy – launching this weekend

The focus on the new site will be very similar to what you have become accustomed to here. And all the previous posts will still be accessible there so you can read them again at your leisure.

The new site has already gone live so feel free to check it out at smartcareerstrategy

Over time I plan to add new sections with the aim of offering additional resources as well as the blog. I would welcome any suggestions or requests you may have for resources and additional content that you would like to see there. Why not leave a comment with your thoughts on this?


Thanks heaps to those of you who previously signed up to subscribe to twinpillars. I have not yet worked out how to/whether I can simply transfer your subscription details to the new site and I certainly don’t want to breach privacy. It would be wonderful if you would like to go to smartcareerstrategy and subscribe there from now on.


Tough Job Search – time for Plan B?

Fork in road

Fork in road

“The job market is pretty tough and there don’t seem to be many opportunities for me out there – should I be looking at other options or is it too soon?”

I get asked a question like this probably two or three times a week at the moment. So what’s the answer? Or is there one?

Well, I am a coach so instead of just trying to answer this straight off I usually throw a few questions back. I want to make sure my client has done and is doing everything possible to be positioned effectively in the market where they will have the most traction – which will give the best prospect of landing a new role as quickly as possible.

6 Key Questions – you may find them useful as a “sense check” on your own job search:

  1. How efficiently are you using your time to source advertised roles? (i.e. focusing on those for which you are extremely well qualified and not spending too much time on this as it is the smallest source of opportunities. Usually not much more than around 25-30% of the available roles)
  2. How well differentiated and targeted are your cover letters and resume when you do apply for an advertised role? Are you hitting the advertiser’s “hot buttons” to have the best chance that your letter and resume will actually be read?
  3. What pre- and post-application contact and follow-up are you doing?
  4. What ongoing relationships have you established with well-connected recruiters who work in your industry and functional niches and what have you done to build rapport and maintain proactive contact – never quite off their radar screen without irritating them?
  5. How much time and effort are you putting into maintaining and building your networks in your chosen industry segment(s)? As a rough rule of thumb it would be ideal to secure 3 to 5 meetings or phone conversations per week with new contacts.
  6. How  effective is your online branding and activity? (Twitter, LinkedIn etc.)

If you are doing all of these things consistently and well, and have been on the market for about 4 to 6 weeks without much success in landing interviews you have two choices. Well, more than that but these will do for now.

Assuming you have good financial resources, stick to your game, be patient, in time the role will come.

In the current Australian market if you are targeting a salary of around $150K or more it is likely that your job search will take 6 months or more. It could be much shorter or in some cases much longer. Make sure you have the reserves to ride out a 6-9 month campaign with no income.

(If your experience  is different or the market you are in has different pressures and timelines I would love to hear from you – feel free to leave a Comment).


Don’t give up on your primary search but start working on Plan  B in parallel – now.

Bear in mind that what works for one may not suit another. So what does Plan B look like for you?

Ideas that have worked for some of my clients

  1. Build a new prospect list in a related but different industry niche; build a new network in this niche to assess the viability of a shift based on your transferable skills
  2. Open up your search to include short and medium term contract roles or consulting assignments
  3. Seek out opportunities to do pro bono work using your skills and experience to benefit a business or NFP that otherwise could not afford your help. Apart from feeling good about making a contribution you never know what new networks this can lead to.
  4. Volunteer – even if not in your core skill areas – helps to get you out of your own head!
  5. Explore buying or starting your own business. Often just doing the research around this opens up avenues you haven’t thought of and gets you introductions to new networks that could even lead to a more conventional role

I hope that some of the thoughts here will help to unlock and accelerate your search for a fantastic new role. If so it would be great if you would consider sharing this through your own social media channels.

(Photo credit: creativelenna)

3 Reasons to Stop Looking for the “Ideal” Job

  1. It probably doesn’t exist anyway
  2. You can’t know everything before you take the job so there will be some surprises
  3. Things can and probably will change after you are hired

It probably doesn’t exist anyway

I have allowed myself to chew up many hours wrestling with trying to define the ideal job for myself. Perhaps I am too picky, not  smart enough or whatever but I have yet to settle on a definition that will completely satisfy me. A huge percentage of the people I have coached through career transition have started their conversations with me around their aspiration to “use the process as an opportunity” to find that elusive ideal role. It’s largely a myth. Read more…

So You Want To Be A Consultant…?


Working as a coach with executives and managers from a wide range of different industries who are facing significant decisions about their careers, I regularly find my clients are keen to explore the idea of becoming a consultant. So, is this a good move? How do you decide if it’s right for you ? Do you know what you’re getting yourself into, and do you have what it takes? I can’t cover every aspect of consulting in a short article like this so here are some thoughts to stimulate your thinking.


The first step here must be to ask yourself why you want to do this. Check your motivation. It can be tough to get a consulting business off the ground so you will need the commitment and resilience to see yourself through plenty of ups and downs. If you are considering this as a result of being impacted by restructure and redundancy, make sure your primary reason is not that you’re still hurting a bit from the way you feel your employer has treated you. It will be important to be in a strong and resilient state of mind with no baggage or bitterness holding you back.

There seem to be several common reasons why people get interested in moving into consulting. For many, there is the desire to focus on the type of work they love most, without the complications and politics of corporate employment. For others, there is the attraction of a flexible work-life, with the freedom to manage time and location. If your main reason is that you are “over” the corporate life, figure out whether that is real or if it would just be better to look for an employer with an organisation culture that is a better fit for you. Or perhaps you are just long overdue for a holiday that would help you to get that energy and focus back?

Can you sell?

If it sounds as if I am trying to discourage you from looking at consulting as an option, that is partly true. I believe that to make it work, you really need to be solidly committed towards consulting for well thought-out reasons, not using it as an escape away from something else.

The next most critical factor is how you will source new business. Many new consultants start with an assignment from their former employer or someone in their network who knows them well. How will you maintain a steady pipeline of new billable work? You will have to sell your services or get someone else to do that for you. As a rule of thumb, you could expect to have to spend around 40% of your time on marketing and sales activity, 10-20% on administration, leaving at most 50% available for the exciting and interesting work you really want to do – andyou won’t always have enough work to fill this 50%. 

5 Key Questions:

  1. You are good at what you do, right? Do you have a clearly articulated value proposition that sets you apart from other consultants with similar skills and experience? What is your USP (unique selling proposition)? Can you articulate this in 15-25 words? If you can’t, there’s a fair chance your prospective clients won’t get it.
  2. Do you have market credibility? Why would anyone buy from you?
  3. Do you have the resources for your start-up period? A typical consulting sales cycle can easily be between 3 and 5 months from lead generation to closing the sale. And then you can only bill some time after that and may have to wait for your client to pay. Can you afford to go for the first 6 to 12 months with no income while investing in launching your business?
  4. Do you love networking?
  5. How will you sustain a good flow of new and profitable billable assignments?
  6. If you really want to do this, consider hunting for a role with an existing consulting firm where you can “learn the trade” without taking all the risk at this stage. You will also have an established brand behind you and the experience you build up this way will be very valuable if/when you eventually decide to launch out on your own. This wouldn’t be right for everyone, of course, but it is worth exploring especially if you have some doubts raised by the 5 Key Questions I mentioned earlier.


Consulting can be extremely rewarding in terms of the work you do, the freedom and flexibility you can achieve, and if you get it right, it can be very lucrative.

If you have:

  • thought through how your life will change on a day to day basis
  • a strong differentiated value proposition
  • a disciplined work ethic (you won’t have all the support resources you were used to in the corporate world)
  •  a robust business plan that accounts for “bumpy” revenue
  • a resilient spirit with a long term view so that you don’t give up if the first year or two are hard, which they probably will be
  • a love of love selling or have a good plan in place for sourcing new clients…..

……then go for it with passion and enthusiasm. Don’t get to 60, look back and wonder why you never tried!


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