Thought Leadership

Time to get ‘Match-Fit’


With a swift wind-down towards your summer break, many of you are likely to come back from leave having ‘firmly decided’ that you need to make a job move. For the majority of you, this will likely mean moving to another organisation (I’ll tackle internal job moves in a separate article). Here are my suggestions re a regime to get you ‘match-fit’.


  • Be brutally honest and self-critical with yourself, or find someone you trust who can be
  • Look in the mirror and ask ‘would I employ me’? If yes, prove it and work your way through the steps below. If not, ‘get a grip’, sort your head out, and ruthlessly follow the steps below
  • Landing a new job requires hard work and investment; start early – it may take some time; and focus/don’t just leave it all to chance
  • Where is this all headed? Don’t just think about the next job – think about where your career is headed – what skills, knowledge and experience are missing to get there?



  • What skills, knowledge, experience, mind-sets do employers in your sector seem currently to be looking for?
  • If you want to switch sectors, what gaps do you need to fill, and do those sectors recruit differently?


Personal development

  • Identify any current gaps in your skill sets/knowledge/experience, whether hard and/or soft)
  • Ask your employer for help in addressing them; but also look in the mirror and ask what are you doing to address them yourself?
  • Whether your employer is assisting or not, have you sought out coaches and mentors, each of whom will provide different perspectives of constructive challenge and critique?
    • Ideally, from inside your current organisation, and
    • From outside of your current organisation, and
    • From inside of your current sector, and
    • From outside of your current sector
  • Join an action learning set, or create one – but remember, you’ll need to find a good/independent facilitator to get the most out of it


Personal collateral

  • Get your base CV all spruced up, but then be ready to adapt it for each role you apply for
  • Cleanse Facebook/other social media for ‘embarrassing’ photos and stories
  • Are you on LinkedIn? Better to be if you want to be headhunted
    • Ensure up to date contact details
    • Check your photo – would you buy a product from this person, or is it worse than your passport photo?



  • Do you have one?
    • If not, then being invisible will not help your job search.
    • If you do, is it positive or negative?
      • If negative, then you need to seek to repair any damaged/problematic key relationships (internal and external) if you can. If the latter are sourced by headhunters, you want them to recommend you – not label you as ‘poisonous’
    • Who would be your ideal referees? Do your best to ensure they will have reason to speak positively of you. And are there key partners, especially from other sectors, who might make useful additional referees?


Thought leadership

  • Are you up to date (regionally, nationally and internationally) re issues and trends in your sector? Are you regularly reading widely?
  • Do you know who the ‘movers and shakers’ are, and what they are saying?
  • Are you writing/doing public speaking?
  • Are you attending conferences and seminars, and seizing the opportunity to ask questions when you do?


General Networking

  • Are you proactively seeking to network?
  • Are you ensuring this is not just one way, but you are trying to add something to these relationships too?
  • When sending a linkedin request, are you sending a message re why as well, rather than just a cold/impersonal request?
  • Are you investing in and finding reasons to stay in touch with your network, and making it a more substantive set of relationships re people who know you and might have reason to recommend you?


Focused networking

  • Are you specifically researching those organisations you would ideally like to work for, and those individuals ideally you would like to work with and for – your ‘Holy Grail’ list of target organisations/people?
  • Are you preparing a strategy for how to approach them, and say that if they ever look to hire, you would really love to be considered, or other ways of coming to their notice?


Interview practice

  • Phone a friend; ask/beg them to give you a mock interview
  • Video it and then replay it twice; first time fast-forward to see all the nervous ticks, the hand-waving, or that you never move a muscle; and then normal speed to hear the waffle and verbosity; it’s painful – but the only way to learn


And finally …

… start now, get ‘match-fit’ through the summer, and be ready for the job search in the autumn.


Hamish Davidson is Chairman/Senior Partner of Davidson & Partners



This article first appeared in Municipal Journal, 12 May 2017






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