Clocking up the miles was crucial in Project Joe

We will call him Joe (because that’s not his real name, with a passing doff of the cap to Con Houlihan ). Joe is a salesman. He took up the redundancy offer last May. Summer holidays beckoned, and he was happy to spend a few months hanging out, for the want of a better phrase, with his seven year-old son.

The fact that it was the summer of 2013 – the warmest summer in aeons – convinced him his decision was an inspired one.

But seasons in the sun pass too and the cold north wind came calling. In Joe’s case, the wind was a metaphorical one: his son went back to school in September, and, suddenly, the vast days of enjoyment became vast days of emptiness.

“I knew I had to get a job again,” he said. Although the redundancy stash was significant, any bundle of money left without a regular top-up can only diminish over time, and so Joe set about getting a job. And this is where I met him: at the start of what he called his ‘project’ to return to employment.

He approached this project with total precision. First, he contacted all the key people he had worked with in his previous job. He told them he was on the prowl again. He sent his CV to all of them.

He touched base with – and, in many cases, went to visit – previous customers and told them he was in the marketplace. He brushed up on his CV. He revived his almost dormant LinkedIn account and became active on there, contributing to discussions in his field of expertise, and, as the football pundits say, ‘generally putting himself about.’

“I realised that getting a job was now the key thing,” he explained to me, “and so I had to devote hours to it every single day. I had time on my hands.”

He visited the recruitment companies in his area. He watched all the usual places where jobs are advertised. He tweaked his CV every single time he sent it out.

Before long, he had people tipping him off about openings. He had people putting words in ears for him. And, soon, he had interviews. He went for a few jobs, but didn’t get them. Apart from the benefits of doing the interviews – his first in years – he also realised he needed to bring more ‘punch’ to interviews.

He turned to Microsoft Publisher and produced a little personal brochure – a simple sales document where the product up for grabs was himself. He deliberately kept it low-key so as not to come across ‘all style, no substance.’

The very next interview he went to – it happened to be a second interview for the same role – he handed over the brochure. The interviewers were impressed: he knows this, because they told him. This gave him a timely boost early in the interview and he went on to give an excellent account of himself.

He knows this, because a few days later he got the call to say he had the job.

I tell this story to illustrate that successful job-hunting is a function of much perspiration and some inspiration. Joe clocked up the miles, and he also enhanced his candidature with the brochure. Every step he took eventually led him to where he wanted to be: yet no step held any prior guarantee.

Job-hunting rarely has a eureka moment. It is generally a much more deliberate affair: but you must commit to it fully to maximise the opportunities in what is a difficult economic environment right now.

Galway Advertiser

Sli Nua Careers ( ) have offices in Galway (Patricia Maloney, 091 528883 ), Mayo (Crossmolina & Ballinrobe ), Dublin, Limerick and Athlone. Their services include CV preparation, interview training and career direction. For more details, visit


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