Since the mid-seventies recession has followed recession to the point that everybody will experience a number of economic cycles during their career. One of the constant principles of thriving in such a situation is the principal of Maintaining Weak Ties; which means checking in with previous colleagues and contacts regularly. Eric Granovetter discovered in 1977 that job seekers who maintained larger networks got placed in jobs more quickly than those who ignored all but the most immediate contacts.

In practice this means calling on people personally in preference to using Social Media.  It’s not a question of one or the other, personal is best.

Try networking in this way and see what happens.

I asked a client to share his experience of career coaching with me – exactly as he experienced it. This is what he wrote, exactly as he wrote it:


Brian McIvor does nothing.
It’s the first, and possibly most important, thing he’ll do for you.
Amongst the myriad things Mr McIvor won’t do for you are:

  • Calling people for you.
  • Trawling the internet looking for job ads.
  • Writing your CV.
  • Getting a great, good or even half-decent Leaving Cert for you.
  • Sitting down and pondering what you’re really good at.
  • Working out what you actually want out of life.
  • Networking like a grown-up, not a Facebook addicted tween.
  • Waving a magic wand to get you your perfect job.


What he does do is ask questions.
Lots of questions. Questions of such volume and piercing nature they’d probably prompt Torquemada to raise an eyebrow: “Steady on there Bri, it’s not like we’re-running the Inquisition here.”
Obfuscation, circumlocution, plámás-ing or using big words just to show off won’t cut it in conversation.
He’s a nice man. An affable chap. A good egg. A charming conversationalist.
He’s in your corner but he ain’t your mammy. He’s already got a job he loves. You’re the one that wants a new one. So you’re going to have to talk to him straight, answer his questions, consider his advice and follow his suggestions.
If you do there’s a very good chance you’re going to get a job you love too.



Now you know what goes on in my career coaching sessions.
I look forward to hearing from you.



Most people are. The concert pianist Arthur Rubenstein said that there were two types on nerves: the first kind, where you really didn’t know the score and just went out there and winged it, and the second type where you really knew the score but were nervous anyway. He said he much preferred the second type. Most problems with nerves occur because of a lack of preparation or too much of the wrong kind of preparation – like trying to remember word-perfect answers.


The best job interviews are intense, focussed professional conversations where well-prepared and well matched interviewers and interviewees discuss questions and issues both are well versed in.


The most successful interviewees put about 20-30 hours into preparing the interview by fine-tuning the application to the job spec, by researching the company, its markets and its products in depth and by matching their application to the real-life demands of the job being applied for.
To be most successful the interview is practiced in a number of different ways e.g. by preparing for the standard questions, by using a video or audio recorder to hear how sample questions are dealt with, buddying up with a friendly inquisitor and by preparing material in bullet form – ultimately freeing yourself from the tyranny of the written text.


Being nervous is inevitable  – some relief  comes after practising and aiming for a better type of nerves and that makes the interview manageable but not necessarily comfortable.


Many of my clients tell me that, although they are very active at networking, nothing is happening. When I investigate further I find that their networking consists of showing people their generic CVs and asking: “are there any jobs out there?”. Networking is far more complex and diverse than that; it needs to have structure and focus. Here are some networking methods you might try:


(1) CHECK-IN: Networking. Calling one of your regular contacts and checking in on how they are getting on in their industry, what’s happening, what’s hot and what’s not. Sooner or later they are going to ask the question: “how are you getting on?” and that will be your opportunity.


(2) INFORMATION GATHERING: Having taken stock of your skills, your achievements and interests you set yourself the objective of finding out opportunities where your skills etc. match the challenges of the industries or roles you are interested in. Remember you are not sending out CVs yet.


(3) CONTACT BUILDING: Once you get more focussed in your search try and identify the people who can give you inside information, introduce you to others and perhaps give you work. But ask yourself “what’s in it for them?”. Maybe you should consider what information you have to trade.


In-depth and focussed networking hones your own interview skills and helps you make your job-search relevant to the current market and not to a historical one.


Twenty years ago – almost to the day- I made a decision to take voluntary redundancy from a training job in life assurance to take the plunge into self-employment. Time does travel fast and I find that I have now worked for myself longer than I have worked for any of my previous employers. One paradoxical thought is that the level of insecurity that I have seen since the mid-90s has brought its own form of security in that change and insecurity themselves are constants in my life but that has challenged me to be aware and to stay on top of things. In that time I have had an amazing set of experiences – mostly very good – and I now enjoy an enduring sense of gratefulness for the support and kindness of others.

Maybe the corner has been turned and there is evidence of the first green shoots; the IMF have departed (for now), the markets want to invest in us again and the ratings agencies have fished us out of the junk basket. Is it now time to review your own career plans?

There will be no return to the halcyon days of the Celtic Tiger. Today’s job market, in a rising economy, will be focussed on delivery and cost. Any job or career you pursue will need to be targeted and pursued in a focussed way – based on a realistic marriage of what you have to offer and what your future employer needs. To second guess the latter you will need the best of market information to identify what skills, expertise and achivements are valued in a recovering economy. And despite what the experts say you won’t get all you need on-line; that’s like conducting a murder investigation based on forensic information only. It’s not the data that talks – it’s the contacts. Now, as much as at any time in the past you need to be creative and resourceful in your career and job search.

So get weaving. I can help you get started and get a road map together.