The subtle art of pitching during a career transition

By Marie-Liesse Morgaut, NEXMOVE Executive and Career Coaching

Building a successful pitch is challenging. You have less than 3 minutes to hold the attention and be convincing, while at the same time bringing your past successes into the conversation.

It requires special skills to summarize a 20-year career path in a few selected and differentiating words.

When not in a career transition we usually introduce ourselves by mentioning our job title, scope of activity, our company, its challenges. And that’s it.

On the contrary, when in career transition, our pitch must reflect who we are, our career path and professional project. This pitch is essential because it is the starting point for any network event discussion, and we know that the network contributes to more than 80% of the employability of a person during its career transition. The mastery of a distinctive pitch is central.

Be careful though. The pitch should neither be an exhaustive list of your experiences that would give the impression you have done everything, nor should it reflect the chronology of your professional career that you would find in the resumé.

This pitch should be a presentation of our professional personality. 

The angle from which we approach our pitch reflects who we are and gives an understanding of our personality and how we approach our career.

In French culture, we are very used to introducing ourselves using our civil status. But this is something that would not fit in an Anglo-Saxon pitch as these personal facts are less appropriate in a professional space. 

How to identify and present your differentiating added value:

Gregoire is a Financial Director

In his first pitch version, he highlights his skills in treasury, accounting and management control. He reassures himself by listing all the facets of financial management.

However, Grégoire has not always been a CFO.

The guiding thread in his career is that he has always been in international structures and he was the financial partner in contexts of change with external growth issues. Identifying this helped him find a new narrative. 

 Sophie is an HRD

She evolved in very different environments, which causes difficulties to her future employability. How can she be retained when, at the end of the recruitment process, she systematically finds herself shortlisted with another candidate who comes from the same sector of activity as the recruiting company?

How to get her application in front of the “SHREK” (the five leading firms that share the lion’s share of the headhunting market: Spencer-Stuart, Heidrick and Struggles, Russels Reynolds, Egon Zender and Korn Ferry) and get past her position as an outsider?

Sophie has always created her position, she likes to take initiatives and has a reputation for being a pioneer. In HR circles, she is the embodiment of openness. She describes her mission for the company, the projects and the people with passion. She highlights a digital initiative that has improved the employee experience.

In her pitch, Sophie chooses to highlight her own characteristics to describe her professional target. She is now joining a company that will be a new JV of two notable structures. Her application made sense thanks to her pitch.

Julien has been a Managing Director for 2 years

His problem: are two years enough to legitimize his position and apply for a CEO job? Before that he was a Sales Director.

In his pitch, he emphasizes business development, international management and a passion for business.

He no longer gives himself the burden of proof and, in fact, he is applying for both international sales management and CEO responsibilities.

Helen had a career in HR in a large group

She would like to take over the management of human resources in a start-up, but the label of a large group sticks to her.

In her pitch, she enthusiastically highlights her commitment to new projects and talks about her passion for the fintech sector, which she has studied closely. She will now dive into this new world.

 Thibaut has a dream: sport

A passion, altruism, an inclusive society and the culture of surpassing oneself. His challenge: how to pitch his project. 

HOPE is a social media in the form of an association and tells the extraordinary stories of young sportsmen and women whose dream and ambition is to participate and shine at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

He builds his pitch like a Manifesto:

“We are HOPE and we believe in the wildest dreams. From hope to achievement, there may be a thousand steps and backward steps, sideways steps and forward leaps, not one of which counts. We are HOPE and we tell the story of the small steps that make up the big stories.”

« Today theirs, tomorrow yours »

He then tells the story of how his project began:

His past responsibilities at L’Oréal, his world tour with his family and an encounter that will make the difference. His secret? He did not start with himself but with the project.

The tone and posture behind the words

The rhythm chosen, the range of the voice, the punctuation of silence all play a fundamental role in the success of the pitch and its coherence.

Particular attention is paid to the structuring of sentences, short and impactful.

Alignment and posture give credibility to what we are sharing.

Filming ourselves and then reviewing our video in silence is an instructive exercise. Extra-verbal communication is as meaningful as the message. A misaligned posture invites us to review the accuracy of the content.

The pitch is an entry point, not an end point.

It allows for inclusion. Let’s give the context and be synthetic when we talk about ourselves.

The purpose of the network interview is to take an interest in the other person, to ask questions about his or her career path, professional choices and the way his or her company operates.

                  It lays the foundations for a balanced and motivating exchange.

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