Interview with Author Ian Allan

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I never imagined I would write a book. I grew up on a farm where if you “had enough time to read a book, you had enough time to do chores”. No one in my family, or community, read books, or had an education beyond year 11. I was the first.

I read nonfiction for my education, but I never read for pleasure. Then I started reading bedtime stories to my now 10 year old daughter. I wanted her to see me reading. I bought a kindle and the rest is history.

I have worked as an borderline academic and independent consultant for many years. Before I started writing THE JOB HUNTING BOOK my writing style reflected that. Yawn. It needed to change.

I wanted to instill a voice into my writing. I studied books on craft like William Zinsser’s classic “on writing well”, books on book marketing, and books on writing fast. I listened to writing podcasts. I had always learnt new skills through studying nonfiction books, and so I thought I could learn storytelling that way too. I discovered narrative nonfiction and creative nonfiction styles, but reading books about those only took me so far. I realized that I had to read fiction if I was to understand storytelling.

These days I read widely. Nonfiction business, marketing and career books. Podcasts have introduced me to whole new genres. Monster, billionaire, sweet, erotic, enemies to lovers, and a bunch of other romance styles. Also, time travel and fantasy genres, and historical fiction, especially WWII historical fiction. Oh my, I do read a lot these days.

But, the books that most helped me find my writing voice were Richard Wake’s Alex Kovacs historical thriller espionage series. I found myself forgetting that I was reading. It was like I was there. I’d not been in that headspace before. Richard nailed the banter I witnessed from WWII veterans when I was a teenager. I had found the “voice” I had been searching for. Its unlikely you’ll see the connection in my book, but that lightbulb moment was pivotal in turning my book from a dry consultant’s report into something that, I hope you agree, is an easy to read nonfiction book.


2) What inspired you to write your book?

I was good at winning work for my small consultancy and the word had got out. In my circle, I became the go-to person to help apply for jobs. The draft job applications and cold pitches people presented me with were usually terrible. Consistently my (mostly) young friends undersold themselves and failed to address a job’s description.

In my consulting life I had learned that if you want to have your best chance at winning a tender, you need to make it easy for your client to hire you. That’s means, addressing the tender selection criteria and having a “profile” that’s big enough to give project officers the ability to confidently go to their superiors and recommend a contract be awarded to you.

I saw the link between me winning tenders and job seekers winning a job. Job seekers need a profile that’s “just big enough” to make it easy for a hiring manager to hire them. These days there’s any number of possible home bases for that, but for most people it will be LinkedIn. The trick is to use your home base to demonstrate to an employer that you’re the perfect hire. By doing your research, you can align yourself with a business, and even a hiring manager. Magically, you’re the candidate who meets their needs. You’ve made their life easy. Yay. Of course, you’ve done the hard work, so it’s not magic.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

Once you have a career in mind, you need to play the long game and make yourself just famous enough to get onto a hiring manager’s radar. When you do this right, you’re more likely to have success with the jobs you apply for, but employers are also likely to approach you. Imagine that… being approached by an employer and so not having to compete for a job!

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I’m a teacher at heart. I always enjoyed the feeling of making a difference to people’s lives when I was teaching geography at my local university. Knowing that I had helped inspire someone into a career that they obviously loved, I was proud when former students sat next to me at conferences. I wanted more of that feeling.

I could have written another geography book, or a sustainability book. But to be honest, I wanted a change. Being a first generation graduate, I had always felt that my career would have been a lot easier had I had a career mentor. I needed more than the generous skills-mentors I had always had. I wanted to offer to young people what had not been offered to me.


5) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?


6) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

READ. READ. READ. Read widely and read often. Listen to podcasts about writing, and about book marketing. Start working on your social media presence early.

Pay attention to book metadata like keywords and categories and incorporate them into your book title and book description if you can. Don’t skimp on your book cover and get your blurb professionally written.


Book marketing

·        Smith publicity (best for non fiction)

·        The Creative Penn podcast

·        The Self Publishing Show

·        The Book Marketing Action podcast

Author interviews

·        The Book Show (ABC Australia’s Radio National)

7) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I’ll continue marketing THE JOB HUNTING BOOK until early 2023. I’m already planning my next two books – probably a workbook to accompany THE JOB HUNTING BOOK, and a LinkedIn for Job Seekers book. Once again, they’ll be aimed at early career job seekers.


About the Author

Life has a way of throwing up challenges. Mine happened in my late teens. In the final year of my apprenticeship a nasty workplace accident forced me to rethink my career.

Fast forward to my early 30s, I’d been a furniture restorer, a furniture removalist, a bingo caller, a pedestrian accident researcher, a condom tycoon (for some reason that failed to impress my girlfriend’s mother), a software engineer, and a lecturer and researcher in spatial science. I won jobs, sometimes due to my tenacity, but looking back, mostly through word of mouth.

In the 90s I started a consultancy and did spatial modelling for universities, the water industry, all levels of the Australian government and the UN. Magically, consulting work and now my employees came via word of mouth.

So, after 40 years as an employee and as a consultant, I’ve learnt that the secret sauce for getting work is relationships, especially professional relationships. These need not be insincere or manipulative. Opportunities naturally arise for those who make the effort. The trick to giving relationships their best chance of yielding work is to put yourself in the other person’s boots and empathize with their problems, their hopes and their dreams. Getting work becomes a simpler exercise when you’ve customized your offering to meet someone’s needs. And that idea is essentially what I’m on about.

I’m a teacher at heart. Now, in my 50’s, I can look back on my career as an employee looking for work, as a consultant winning work, and as an employer hiring and firing. The guidance I write was not around for me when I was starting out. In the absence of a mentor, I had to work it out for myself. And so here are some of my thoughts for you.


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