A little while ago I wrote about the lessons recruiters can learn from Emmanuel Macron’s victory in the French presidential election.
However, it isn’t just recruiters who can learn from President Macron. His victory at age 39—without the backing of any established French political party—provides lessons for candidates aspiring to leadership positions, even if those positions aren’t quite as lofty as president of the world’s fifth largest economy.
If you’re looking to step into an executive role, you should learn from Macron and do the following:
1. Create a compelling personal brand.
Emmanuel Macron built his personal brand on some of the same things any aspiring executive should. He has a good education, he had positions of increasing responsibility, he is articulate, he is thoughtful and presents well, and he clearly thinks outside of the box.
(Plus, as evidenced in his meeting with Donald Trump, he has a firm handshake.)
Creating a compelling brand isn’t tremendously complicated, but it is tremendously important. It takes building your résumé in a strategic way, learning how to present your ideas articulately, and being a thoughtful and open-minded person.
2. Don’t wait. Seize your opportunity now.
Macron is the world’s youngest leader of a major nation, and France’s youngest leader since Napoleon. He understood that the political conditions of the moment presented a unique opportunity to win the election without the support of a major political party.
In other words, he saw his opportunity, and he seized it. You need to manage your career the same way.
When is the right time to step up and seek out your dream job?
When you feel ready—and that feeling has nothing to do with your age.
If you feel like now is the time to become a candidate for an executive position, reach out to a recruiter. Even if you don’t get the job, you have elevated your profile and put yourself on the radar of headhunters and hiring managers.
But as Macron’s election demonstrates, sometimes people are looking for that fresh leadership perspective and are willing to give someone new who may be traditionally a little young for the job a chance.
3. Invest your time and resources in building a strong network.
Macron didn’t come from nowhere. He had a long career in the French government and previously served as Minister of the Economy, Industry and Digital Affairs. Along the way, he developed important relationships and a powerful network. That network undoubtedly played a role in his ability to make En Marche! a powerful political entity and win the election.
As a recruiter, I can tell you that one of the most important parts of your job search is your network.
A candidate who might look a little less experienced on paper is far more likely to beat the odds if they have a strong network. Take time to build value-added relationships, and actively seek out ways you can help others advance in their career. Too often people forget the reciprocal nature of networking, and that good networking often requires you to do something for others before they do something for you.
During Macron’s time as Minister, he frequently had some of France’s leading thinkers, businesspeople, entertainers, and athletes over to his home, illustrating an often-forgotten benefit of networking: If utilized correctly, a strong network can become a focus group of sorts. You can share your ideas, goals, and perspectives with a group of people you trust and get valuable feedback and advice.
At Robertson Associates, we love it when an exciting candidate with fresh ideas gets the job. We are constantly on the lookout for new leaders and new talent. Build your personal brand and strengthen your network, and then let us help you seize your opportunity.
That’s the formula that worked for Emmanuel Macron.
And it will work for you!