When Mike Leach was seeking a new role after 20 years, he turned to Executive Connexions for the support and guidance he needed to advance his career. Here, Mike shares the top 5 lessons he learned from his career coaching experience.  

I came to Executive Connexions for career coaching having been a Senior Finance Executive with the same group for over 20 years. Re-entering the jobs market after such a long time, I was surprised by the vast number of strongly qualified candidates in the market.

When I first spoke with my career coach, my main concerns were really around understanding how tall the mountain was that I needed to climb; what were the triggers that would get me noticed; and what would be the consequence if I was on a career break for a lengthy period of time.

What I learned from career coaching:

1. How today’s recruitment market functions

I found you can be a very experienced senior executive and you might know your industry better than anyone, but you still need two things to advance your career: an understanding of the current recruitment market and the ability to clearly and succinctly communicate how you meet a recruiter’s needs. My career coach helped me to understand what a recruiter (and employer) was looking for in a candidate. This made it much easier to consider how I could impress a recruiter and express my value proposition effectively through my CV, social media accounts and personal interactions.

2. How others might perceive me as a candidate

The feedback I received was important in developing my self-awareness and areas that I would benefit from improving. For me, this included understanding how to gain the right balance of confidence (in a new environment where self-marketing is paramount), and the humility to show up with the ’real me’, allowing my personality to shine though; building rapport and demonstrating a good culture-fit with the company.

I found that I needed to improve my preparedness -recruiters expect this!- and be ready to take calls at short notice, have my elevator pitch refined to a level where it comes naturally, be practised and experienced at the job interviewing process, and focussed on selling the ‘real me’.

3. What it takes to succeed in attracting future employers

One of things that the career coaching process taught me was understanding that opening doors and getting yourself known is akin to building relationships (both at work and socially).  In fact, you need to build credibility and get your thoughts, ideas and values known to the people with whom you want to connect. This requires confidence to go out into the social media world and make yourself known through online interactions, through face to face meetings and through groups of similar interests. Social media networking and online activity is hard to get involved with especially if you’re not used to self-marketing. Making the connection between online activity, the appeal of your profile is hard to make without experience and evidence.

4. How to sustain ongoing invaluable networks

Another skill area I focussed on improving was around building professional relationships with the people I have worked with before, as well as making new contacts through strategic networking. Both actions appear as some of the most effective ways to access the hidden jobs market. Shifting my perspective, I learned to always recall that I’m building a relationship where trust has to be earned and so don’t be too relaxed, yet be open to express your thoughts and values as this is of greater importance as a leader.

5. Career development requires ongoing activity

I’m more motivated to continue networking and open to speaking with recruitment professionals even when I am happily employed as I know, should the time come to seek a new role, having these contacts will make my job search a lot easier. I realised that going forward, having a strong and continuing social presence will be key not just during a job search phase, but during any leaders executive career.

Since engaging a career coach, I have secured a new and exciting role with a well-regarded global company – a career leap supported with positive action, strong insights into the Hidden Jobs market and a very broad network. In a short period of time, I consider that the benefits I gained from career coaching are invaluable to help me leap-frog potential other candidates in the market.

We help our clients to land their next role, faster through recruitment insights and personalised executive career coaching. If you need help to secure your next senior level position, contact us on +44 (0) 203 384 4188 or email contact@executiveconnexions.com.