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When The “Career” Penny Drops…

  • Posted 19 Oct 2020
  • Richard Holmes
  • Article

There is often a special career movement we see where the penny drops. 

It’s almost like the stars align and the clouds move away, and everything starts to get a little easier. It is actually beautiful to watch.

When is this moment?

When you realise that you need a professional network and you actually have to do “things” to maintain it.

Just before this light bulb moment, usually, the story goes something like this.

I’m floating around in my job, rarely catch up with anyone outside of my boss or maybe the team I work with. I get a call or three from recruiters, but I ignore. I’m headhunted every now and then by an interesting company, but I ignore or just forget to reply.

I start to get interested in a career move. Something isn’t right and I know I’m going to have to do it soon. I’ll scrub up a CV and post it out to a few Seek adverts.

The phone rings. I’m busy. Oh, that’s right, there’s a recruiter on LinkedIn that I said I’d meet but I never locked anything in the diary.

I’m still busy. Maybe I can just give them a phone call instead of a meeting. That used to work when I was 23 years old. The recruiters never interviewed me anyway.

OK, I’ll go to an interview. I’m told I’m not experienced enough for this really interesting job. I’ve met a few recruiters but they don’t seem to be coming up with the jobs I want.

Time continues to tick away.

Hmm… This job I’m in isn’t working out so well.

I really need to leave. In fact, I want to leave now!




The accelerator goes on, the phone calls are made. The meeting room down the hall from my desk becomes my second office while I take six phone calls a day from recruiters. All of sudden, everyone thinks I’ve got a smoking habit because I’m ducking outside to talk about my next job.

But it still doesn’t mean I’m getting the jobs I want to hear about. The recruiters keep telling me I don’t have industry experience. They tell me I’m not going to get the roles I really want to do because I don’t have relevant experience.


BING BING BING BING!!!! It makes sense now.


Oh shit! I wish I had have spent some time with that recruiter they tell me has all of the good jobs when he called me 6 months ago. Maybe if he trusted me he would approach me with really good opportunities that aren’t advertised instead of me chasing him down.

I wish I had planned this out a little better do I don’t feel like it is such a rush.

I wish I had spent time networking like every second recruiter and LinkedIn article tells me I should.

I’ve probably come across a little rude or obnoxious by ignoring calls and messages, even if I didn’t mean it.

If your penny hasn’t dropped, or perhaps it is just falling for you now, here are some things to put into place.

1. Put time aside after work or before work (or whatever works for you) to return phone calls, LinkedIn messages and emails. This respect at least puts in a place where respect might be reciprocated. It may not pay off in the short term, but in a small world, it can pay off at any time.

2. Ensure that you are not always stretched so far that you don’t make time to meet people – mentors, ex-colleagues, recruiters. Stay connected and manage expectations more effectively.

3. If recruiters are bombarding you, ask questions instead of ignoring. Perhaps a quick email to validate if something is worth exploring, or a message back to say now isn’t the right time. You might need them one day.

4. Follow through with what you say you’re going to do. “I’ll get back to you”, to most people means “I’ll get back to you”. So do that. Or if that isn’t what you mean than say it; “I’m unlikely to get back to you for a while because my focus is on something else. Why don’t we park it until …” Or whatever you actually mean is useful.

5. Realise that no one will magically know when you need them. To attract opportunities, you need to put yourself out there. Proactive people, on average, get far better career results than reactive.

Richard Holmes is Co-Founder & Director of HPR Consulting, a leading Accounting & Finance recruitment business in Sydney, Australia.

He has been in the Executive Search & Selection Industry since 2003 and has developed a track record of recruiting senior Accounting, Finance and Commercial professionals into leading ASX listed, private and multinational organisations. Passionate about connecting talent, he has an in-depth knowledge of the Sydney market and brings a significant amount of intellectual property to his clients and candidates.

Contact Richard on 0403 513 720 or richardh@hprconsulting.com 

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