With Martin G. Moore

Episode #274

Taking Control of Your Future: Q&A with Marty and Em

Since releasing our new self-paced short course, Landing Your Dream Job, we’ve had a stream of questions from our leadership community about whether or not the course is applicable to them.

In this week’s episode, Em is back on the mic with me and we answer two of the most commonly asked questions, which deal with key aspects of the job search process:

  1. “How do I network and utilize my mentors most effectively?” and

  2. “How can I determine which role is best for me?”

Your long-term career future is shaped by the decisions you make today, which is why you need to give yourself the best chance you possibly can of getting it right!

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Episode #274 Taking Control of Your Future: Q&A with Marty and Em


We recently released our new, self-paced online short course, Landing Your Dream Job.

Em and I love this course because it covers everything from knowing which companies to target as preferred employers, right through to negotiating your employment contract once you’ve been offered a role.

There’s no doubt that the job market is tough right now, and as many economies around the world are being challenged, we wanted to create this product as a one-stop-shop, job hunting framework. The best part is that it’s all about principles and tactics, which you can apply to any job search you have, either now or further down the track.

This is all about positioning yourself so that you can maximize your career potential. So this is for all leaders, not just those who are currently looking for a new role.

In the lead up to our product launch, we ran the online training, The Art of Asking, and aired the recording of that training on the podcast a few weeks ago. Since then, we’ve had a bunch of questions from people who are keen to take the course, but want to know if it’s really going to help them to land their dream job.

As we’re starting to see some trends developing in these questions, we figured it would be useful to do a general podcast episode to answer a couple of the most common ones.


There are two fundamental types of questions that people have been sending in: the first is in the general area of networking; and the second is in the general area of making a decision on which job is going to be right for you. So I want to explore these areas fairly broadly.

In terms of networking, we are constantly asked:

“How often should I seek out my mentors? I want to make sure I’m connected to my network to increase my future job prospects. I feel like I should be more active with my network and build relationships before I need them.”

Great questions! I draw the distinction between mentors and the other types of people in your network, because you normally don’t have many mentors. Mentors are in a pretty tight circle: if you have perhaps a maximum of three mentors, that would probably be the right number.

I did a podcast episode ages ago that may well be worth your time to listen to: Ep.183: Mentors, Coaches, and Trusted Advisors.

In a larger company, it’s often the case that your visibility in the organization hinges on your internal mentors. Mentors should be on demand relationships. I had a number of mentors in different areas during my career:

  • I had one mentor who I would specifically tap into for guidance on culture change and leadership;

  • I had another one with deep experience in commercial matters, like mergers, acquisitions, and funding strategies;

  • I had another mentor purely for industrial relations, who understood Australian workplace culture and law very deeply.

You have horses for courses, and these mentors normally come from good relationships that have been developed in the trenches, working with people who are expert in a certain area, and who can offer you some of their advice, guidance and experience, and the wisdom that only comes with having done these things.

My mentors were always happy when I contacted them, but it was fairly infrequent. My experience is that you should really nurture those mentoring relationships. They are the people in your inner circle. They’re potentially your biggest supporters, and quite often inside your company, they’ll offer you their patronage—it’s incredibly important that you have someone more senior in your corner.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of only asking mentors for something when you need it: but the best relationships are two-way relationships. Although I’m not a big fan of country music, there’s a country singer in the US named Jelly Roll. He had a massive single called, I Only Speak to God When I Need a Favor. Now, that clearly struck a chord with a lot of people, because it was such a huge hit.

When you’re thinking about some of your most important career relationships, like your mentors, it’s good to not only speak to them when you need a favor!


Mentoring, at its core, is actually quite a directive process: you seek guidance and advice from someone who has greater experience and wisdom than you, and is happy to share it with you… and they do so purely to give you greater perspective—they want to help you improve your performance and realize your future potential.

Mentors typically offer their services pro bono—that is, for free. It’s a common way for more experienced leaders and executives to give something back. Most of them quite enjoy mentoring others who are more junior, because they want to pay it forward.

Although they have incredible knowledge, insight, and experience to impart, mentors typically don’t have qualifications in the process of mentoring. This is quite different from coaches who are mostly qualified in the process of coaching. But that means there’s going to be a huge amount of variability in what a mentoring relationship actually looks like.

Of course, there are different types of mentoring, too. 95% of mentoring relationships are unpaid, and that relationship is initiated by you approaching someone who is more senior to you, who’s in your field of vision, who you want to tap into and get the benefit of their experience.

In contrast to this, what I do is quite unique. I do very little pro bono mentoring. Most often, I charge pretty significant fees for my one-on-one mentoring services: but that’s for a very specific type of person wanting a specific outcome—CEOs and business owners who want to learn how to drive significant performance uplift in their company.

We call it “mentoring” because that’s the most accurate way to describe it. I use my years of accumulated wisdom and experience as a corporate executive and CEO to help senior leaders supercharge their company’s performance.

But, to be clear, my mentoring clients don’t pay me to chew the fat with them over a coffee. They come when they know they’re in a position to pull the really big levers of value and performance, and they want to make sure they do it the most effective, profitable, and fast-growth way.

This is why, even though our business is called Your CEO Mentor, I’m not the typical example of what a mentor is: I combine the best techniques from coaching, mentoring, and business consulting to specifically improve business performance, which is a little different from most of the other mentoring engagements you’d seek out.


What’s the difference between closely connected mentors, and your broader network?

Your broader network is what you need to tap into when you’re on the hunt for a job. Whether or not you need another job depends on a whole range of factors, and is highly dependent on timing.

Your network is a much larger and more diverse group of people than those that you have a close mentoring relationship with. It’s all of your contacts, whom you know well enough to ask for 20 or 30 minutes of their time, to help you establish a solid foundation for your job search activities.

You might have 20 people who you put in this category, or you might have over 100–but you certainly don’t have to have a super close connection with someone to engage them in your job search. The purpose of tapping into your network is to uncover potential job opportunities.

They say that 80% of jobs are never advertised, which is probably not true—but, having said that, the best jobs certainly aren’t decided via monster.com or seek.

Before you meet with someone in your network, you’ve got to be disciplined enough to do some preparation:

  • You want to be able to describe, with real precision, what it is that you’re looking for;

  • You need to be able to describe your unique skills and capabilities; and

  • You need to know how to build a relationship quickly enough that this person will be happy to refer you to other people and to potential roles.

We have a whole lesson and workbook on this in the Landing Your Dream Job course, which helps you to make networking methodical, instead of just random coffee catch-ups with no forward momentum.

The rules of engagement for your network are fairly basic: it’s all pretty much common sense:

  • Respect people’s time;

  • Make sure you prepare beforehand;

  • Know who you’re meeting with, and what their background is;

  • Listen to what they tell you;

  • Be realistic about both what you ask for and what you describe as your dream job; and

  • Be direct and clear about what you’re asking for—don’t be afraid to ask for what you want, but be clear about what that is.


The second broad area of questioning has been around knowing how to choose the right opportunity. One of the questions that captures this general concern quite well came from Helen, who said:

“In the past, I’ve made some pretty poor decisions on moving to a job that didn’t turn out to be everything I’d imagined. There were plenty of red flags that I didn’t see, because I was so keen to get out of the role that I was in. How do I get better at making those decisions without the rose-colored glasses?”

This is such a great question because it’s about how to be more methodical, so that you are as analytical and dispassionate as possible, enabling you to choose the right opportunity.

I used to do a lot of things intuitively, which created gaps in my decision-making, and was prone to being influenced by emotional considerations, which of course can change from day to day. Then, I worked out how to formalize and structure my decision-making framework, and it made a huge difference. There was still plenty of room for gut feel and emotion, but it didn’t dominate, once I blended it with a focus on the data and the integrated framework I was using.

However, despite my robust and methodical framework, I still didn’t get it right when I was making the decision to go from Aurizon to CS Energy.

To cut a long story short, I didn’t make the right decision initially–I declined the offer of the CEO role at CS Energy, but in the days that followed, the decision didn’t sit well with me. I had over-indexed the strong emotional pull to the money, and didn’t follow the weighting in my assessment criteria.

I initially declined the CS Energy job, because it meant that I’d have to leave a sh!t-ton of money on the table at Aurizon, in the form of share options and long-term bonuses.

But once I’d figured out that this had led me to make the wrong decision, I went back to the chairman of CS Energy and said, “Look, I know this probably doesn’t fill you with confidence about the decision-making capability of your new CEO, but I think I’ve made the wrong call. Would the board still be happy to have me if I were to accept the offer?”

And, as it turns out, they did. In the end, I actually got screwed really badly on my options at Aurizon, leaving me with pretty much the worst case scenario: it ended up costing me a small fortune! But I don’t regret it for one second–if I didn’t have the experience of leading the major turnaround as CEO of CS Energy, there’s no way I couldn’t be doing what I’m doing today—and the money pales into insignificance compared to that!


Given that I made a poor decision initially, even with my robust framework, how can you minimize the likelihood of making a poor decision, especially when you’re incredibly keen to leave the job you’re currently in?

The first thing is to define each element of the framework as thoroughly as possible. You’ve got to be aware of your own biases, because when you’re looking for a way out, the grass is always greener on the other side.

Your assessment should consider the relativity of different jobs, not just assess a job in isolation. Just like strategy, role evaluation shouldn’t happen in a vacuum.

Discount your perceptions for driver test syndrome. I don’t know if you’ve heard me talk about driver test syndrome before. I’ve just started using the expression of late, because I’ve become increasingly aware that many of the drivers around the local area in Boston are bat-sh!t crazy. It’s absolute mayhem on the roads here.

Someone recently asked me, as they watched me narrowly avert a potentially major accident in front of us, “How on earth do these people get their licenses?”… It occurred to me that anyone can behave behind the wheel of a car, as a model citizen for half an hour, when they have a driving examiner next to them.

It’s easy enough to get your license: you spend half an hour doing that, and then you’ve got a lifetime of joy on the interstates. So, just think about discounting during your job search process for driver test syndrome.

This means, when you go into an interview room, you know you can be on your best behavior for half an hour or an hour. But your interviewer is the same: your interviewer can be on their best behavior, and tell you what a wonderful place it is to work, how fantastic the role is, what a great opportunity lies before you and, of course, what a great boss they are.

The reality is often very different, so make sure you’re thinking about that all the time.

Also, try to think long-term. Going to a job for more money now may or may not be in the best interest of your future career. You should think about potential long-term progression, challenge, and growth, and even how to fill your resume gaps for future roles.

For the majority of my career, I worked in staff roles—I knew that I had a huge gap in my resume, because I didn’t have the experience of running a P&L. So I had to do that before I was capable of getting a job like the CEO role at CS Energy. I had to fill that career gap with a sideways move that gave me that experience on my resume.


The decision framework is relatively simple, but deploying each element to come up with an answer can be tricky. Don’t underestimate the power of working through these steps methodically:

  1. Understand what’s important to you in a role (you’d be surprised how many people don’t!);

  2. Work out how any potential role stacks up against those drivers. i.e. Which things are most important to me? Which of those are delivered in this role? How does that compare to other roles?

  3. Assess the pros and cons of each role;

  4. Undertake a risk assessment;

  5. Bounce that thinking off a close mentor; and, of course

  6. Work out how to make a role more attractive to you (because what’s advertised is always only going to be a partial fit with your skills, capabilities, and talents—you want to be able to use as much of that as you possibly can—it’s in everyone’s best interests).


Assuming that you’ve made the decision to seek an alternative role, how do you know when the time is right to move? This is a really personal thing. For me, it tended to be when I either thought that I wasn’t being sufficiently stretched anymore, or I wasn’t having the impact that I knew I could have.

But it’s different for everyone. You may simply be feeling underappreciated. There may be a constraint in your environment that’s stopping you from leading the way you want to lead (e.g. a micromanaging boss who suffocates you, or a “family” culture that doesn’t support you to lead for performance). You might feel as though you’re just getting stale, or you’ve been in one place for too long and you know that you have to get momentum back into your career.

Sometimes it’s just that your opportunities for promotion simply aren’t obvious to you. You can’t see where that next move might be, and it looks like it’s a long way in the future. Or maybe the market’s moved a lot and your salary hasn’t moved with the market, and you need a reset—sometimes, going to a new role is the only way to do that.

Maybe you just need to acquire some critical skills to fill a gap in your resume, if you want to make your future career ambitions come true.

Whatever stage you’re at… wherever you are currently… no matter how badly you’d like a better job… don’t just jump ship without thinking about the job search process methodically.

Your long-term career future is shaped by the decisions you make today, so give yourself the best chance you possibly can of getting it right!




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