small change: your job search funnel


small change 


Ciarán Fenton

How small changes in your behaviour will have a big impact on how you work, lead or follow

That’s the working title of a book I’m writing, initially as a series of short blogs.

Blog 1 small change: seven principles

Blog 2 small change: your career is a unique business

Blog 3 small change: your soft balance sheet

Blog 4 small change: your D Liability

Blog 5 small change: your timeline

Blog 6 small change: your formative years

Blog 7 small change: your A asset

Blog 8 small change: your career equity

Blog 9 small change: your curriculum vitae

Blog 10 small change: your emotional intelligence

Blog 11 small change: your reputation

Blog 12 small change: you, three years from now

Blog 13 small change: your purpose, strategy & behaviour (PSB)

Blog 14 small change: your soft p&l

Blog 15 small change: your 7 career options

Blog 16 small change: your relationship grid

Blog 17 small change: you are not a human capital asset

Blog 18 small change: your 7-step job search plan

Blog 19 small change: your 3-step interview plan (1)

Blog 20 small change: your 3-step interview plan (2)

Blog 21 small change: your 3-step interview plan (3)

Blog 22 small change: your job search funnel

small change

Seven principles

Principle 2

Organisations are more likely to hire you if

  • you’re the least risky
  • not, necessarily, the best


Blog 22  small change: your job search funnel

funnel 2

Since 2002 I have assisted in scores of executive and non-executive job searches across all sectors from Oil & Gas through TMT to Legal Services and I found that most job search failures or unsatisfactory outcomes were caused by only one issue:

  • failure to understand that a job search is a sales & marketing process.

Most applicants are inexperienced at selling and marketing themselves, even sales and marketing professionals.

This problem would not be so acute if applicants would accept that they don’t know what they don’t know about sales and marketing.

Lawyers, much as I love them, are the worst offenders.

One equity partner at a law firm once said to me: “What’s all this fuss about marketing? Eh? All one needs are forty tickets to Wimbledon!”

Poor Philip Kotler.

If you want to succeed in your job search start out with humility.

Use “creative visualisation” (see below) and imagine signing your new contract and starting your first hundred days and work backwards in your mind’s eye through the various stages, connecting with these deeply. 

Is creative visualisation necessary? Does it work? It’s necessary because it helps you connect with an unfamiliar process. It works for that reason.

Think of your job search process as a funnel: start at the wide end and end with a job and your first hundred days and the narrow end.

The funnel is about narrowing your approach as you proceed. it’s about focus. You start with leads.


Leads are potential job opportunities. They come from two activities: your proactive job search process and your reactive job search process.

Your proactive process is one in which you approach targets or find targets through networking on and offline.

Your reactive process is driven by headhunters. You are not in control, they are.


Opportunites are leads which you have “qualified in” and have a percentage possibility of turning into a role:

  • 10%  Qualified in
  • 25%  First meeting
  • 50%  Interview process
  • 75%  Short-list
  • 90%  Negotiation
  • 100% Job offer

Don’t self-deceive on the percentages, especially at the 10% stage. Be ruthlessly honest with yourself.

Your pipeline

Your pipeline = leads + opportunities.

Keep it full, especially when you are on a short-list. There’s nothing more depressing in the process than being blind-sided by an unexpected rejection to find that your pipeline is empty.

The interview process

  • First interview
  • 2nd and further interviews
  • Due diligence
  • Offer or rejection

Contract negotiation

It’s helpful if any issues are flagged by both sides early in the process so that the negotiation phase can be kept short.

You first 100 Days

Your job search is not over in my view until you have survived your first hundred days.

It’s all very simple, isn’t it?


Ciarán Fenton









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