Beware the job-search minefield


Looking for a new post while still at your old one takes skill, writes Gillian Nalletamby.

Finding a new job is hard work. It’s like going into battle – a battle of wits, that is. Job searching takes discipline, determination and just a little bit of stealth and cunning. Here are some tips from a trained veteran to get Operation Job Search under way and get you job ready.

Start staggering your work hours or alternating your shifts so when you’re asked to go for an interview, it won’t look out of place to be turning up at work at 10am or leaving at 4pm. Keep ’em guessing and on their toes. Develop mysterious illnesses that require a lot of specialist appointments and keep your flexi and annual leave days free. You can only have so many fillings before your boss starts questioning your hygiene or wondering whether you’re homeless. Like a soldier in training, you need to be prepared for all eventualities.

Make sure you have voicemail, always put your mobile phone on silent and never pick up your phone during work hours. It’s a potential hand grenade. You can’t let your boss even smell the scent of an interview. Call interviewers back at a convenient time to you. Don’t do what I did and dial a random missed call I thought might be the hot boy I met on Saturday night, only to find I was on the receiving end of a 20-minute phone interview in the middle of a noisy food court. Despite the call coming from a telecommunications company that prides itself on saying yes, I got a resounding no. I can still hear it reverberating in my ears.

Make sure your interview suits are dry-cleaned and ready for action. If you work in a casual office culture, like I do, you know if you wear a suit then you might as well tattoo “I’m looking for another job” on your forehead. You need to master the art of camouflage and quickly.

Start alternating your jeans and sneakers for more traditional work wear. A casual T-shirt teamed with black suit pants can quickly be turned into a bona fide interview outfit with the matching suit jacket. Done well, there should only be a short transitional period, long before your workmates even look up from updating their Facebook pages and notice a difference.

Make sure your referees are primed in case they have forgotten who you are. There is no need to remind them you were the one who emailed the Hoff joke around the office with the virus that shut down the company for two days. If an interviewer says they are going to ring your referees, email them the job description so they can tailor (notice I didn’t say lie) your skills and experience for the role.

Start printing examples of your work on the company’s brand-new colour printer outside of work hours in preparation for your escape. Don’t feel guilty at this point about using company resources to further your career. Teamwork and solidarity is a myth cooked up by some change consultant in the early 1980s. You have to look after number one and
arm yourself with all the artillery you can get in the financial crisis. Take no prisoners.

And remember, all’s fair in love and war.

Published in MyCareer in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, August 2 2009. Copyright Gillian Nalletamby 2009

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  1. Michelle, 4 August 2009, 9:10 am

    Thanks Gillian- Fabulous article. Your article is timely, in that I am looking for a role where people matter not profits- yes it will be scary- it will require cunning, but I am excited. And, the suit is ready!

  2. Julie, 4 August 2009, 9:19 am

    Well done Gillian. Awesome article and you certainly have a way with words. It’s great that you are writing from life experience. It’s like reading juicy gossip all about you. So easy to read and puts a smile on one’s face.


  3. Gillian Nalletamby, 4 August 2009, 10:34 am

    Thanks for your kind comments Michelle and Julie. Job searching is always painful especially now we’re in a financial crisis.

  4. Sadhbh, 4 August 2009, 2:04 pm

    Gillian, that’s awesome. Sharp and flows wonderfully. I laughed a load.

    I would show it round the office, but I’m worried it might cut a little close to the bone. 😀

  5. Thomas, 4 August 2009, 2:55 pm

    entertaining!!! I enjoyed and will pass on to my work colleagues.’

  6. […] M­or­e­: 30 is­ the­ ne­w blac­k » Be­ware­ the­ j­o­b-s­e… […]

  7. Natasha, 5 August 2009, 11:01 am

    This is very funny and very timely! I can’t wait to read your next post.

  8. Pamela, 5 August 2009, 12:02 pm

    Gillian, Excellent. Wonderful tips and incredibly inspiring and most all very witty. Thankyou for the tips and a very most enticing article, Looking forward to your future articles.

  9. Nicole, 5 August 2009, 1:08 pm

    “You have to look after number one and arm yourself with all the artillery you can get in the financial crisis.” – This is so true! Companies want you to be loyal but at the end of the day, they are not going to show you that loyalty back. Very clever article. I laughed all the way through.

  10. Liz, 5 August 2009, 10:17 pm

    I really enjoyed reading this. Thanks for posting it.

  11. Nik, 6 August 2009, 4:09 pm

    “all’s fair in love and war”
    He he he that’s a good one!
    A briliant practice handbook.

  12. Teri LaFlesh, 7 August 2009, 2:48 pm

    You had me cracking up! Oh gosh, funny but so true. And I loved (and cringed) at the image of returning that call thinking it was the hot guy only to find yourself on the other end of a 20 minute phone interview. That’s the exact sort of thing that would happen to me!

    Very timely information. Hilarious, but at the same time, much needed.

  13. Sabrina, 9 August 2009, 9:30 am

    This is awesome! It’s so true that you need to look after one. Companies want your loyalty but if company profits are down, they only care about the bottom line.

  14. Jay, 23 August 2009, 1:17 pm

    You’ve given me great tools to navigate my way through what could have been a tricky transition. The wonderfully timed humour has made an impact on my list of ‘what to do’. There’s enough tension and pressure that we put on ourselves for that perfect result, but you’ve made me realise that the journey doesn’t have to be that arduous – it’s just a matter of cleverly timed stepping stones as preparation. Thanks for such a well-written article – your flair for words has certainly made it easier for me to take in these key points. You’ve empowered me – the sky’s the limit now!

  15. Jennifer, 22 June 2010, 12:31 pm

    I really needed to read this article today. I’m about to jump ship and hopefully I’ll swim not sink in my next role!


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