Updating your CV, drafting the cover letter, starting the search … we’re all familiar with these first steps. The main stages of a career change are the same, whether you are an employee or a CEO. However, properly managing a career strategy as a company executive may require specific support over time to maintain a positive dynamic throughout the search process.
Such is the support provided by Monique Chézalviel, who was an HR director for major corporations before taking up her current position as Executive Advisor at LHH ICEO France, a consultancy specializing in C-levels career change. It’s a position that has allowed this HR expert to flourish and to provide an individual, tailored service that offers valuable help with developing and fine-tuning a career change. More than just coaching, this mentoring service provides executives looking for a new job with the benefit of her experience, a network of contacts, and pertinent professional advice. It also helps them to stay on top of the career change process.
Any career change needs to start with a period of introspection.
“You have to try and identify the signals that reveal your lack of interest in the job you are doing,” she explains. “You need to know how to listen to yourself, to accept that it’s becoming painful to do your job every day. And it means finding the energy needed to do something different.” The company might also be sending weak signals about an impending lay-off. By failing to recognize these signals, people risk not being the first ones to take action.
If the choice of the looming ‘breakdown’ comes from the executive, it means there is a little time for deciding what to do next. That time is precious, according to Monique Chézalviel.
“One of the keys to a successful career change is to give yourself time. Executives are generally in their 50s with demonstrable skills, and they offer real value-added. They are mainly recruited for their experience. The most important thing is to ask yourself what you really want to do, because you will always be more convincing when you talk about a project that’s close to your heart. Success is always more likely if you show real conviction.”
The most important thing is to ask yourself what you really want to do, because you will always be more convincing when you talk about a project that’s close to your heart.
If there is one aspect that Monique Chézalviel advises, it’s to avoid other people’s negative views. “If it becomes a source of stress, the views of people close to you can quickly become harmful,” she explains.
“This is a time when you have to stick to your guns. If someone makes you think every day that your job search is not getting anywhere and that it’s all going to be difficult, that’s counterproductive. So, you have to commit to having a structured approach to your job search and explain to people that such a search will take time.”
“The only watchword to have is dare”
In a process that can create a fair amount of anxiety, Monique Chézalviel’s advice is to allow yourself some time for fun – go out with friends and talk to them, develop a better work-life balance, and exercise. But it’s also important to surround yourself with people who can help, people who can act like sparring partners such as outplacement consultancies.
“Executives have a real need for help, that’s the reality of the situation. They need international contacts, people who know the local job markets, have the tools needed to carry out research and to separate companies by size or turnover, and a large network of contacts.”
You have to network. Because ultimately, the only thing that counts is meeting people.
That network should include the entire ecosystem of the person looking for a new position, and not just those who are in “a good job,” highlights Monique Chézalviel. She recalls an executive who found his “dream job” thanks to the father of his son’s best friend at school.
“You have to network,” she underlines. “Because ultimately, the only thing that counts is meeting people. So, you need a lot of them to have THE meeting that delivers, and it’s not always the one you might expect! You absolutely mustn’t stay stuck behind your computer screen. You need to be audacious, to enjoy yourself and to be curious. The only watchword to have is dare.”