With 20 years of experience leading HR and Talent Management functions for large organizations, Antoine Tirard is an expert. He now is a Senior Affiliate Consultant at Pivot Leadership, a Korn Ferry company.

This year he publishes along with Claire Harbour-Lyell, coach and global talent expert, a book entitled “Disrupt Your Career: How to Navigate Uncharted Career Transitions and Thrive“. The authors discuss the many critical career transitions that professionals face on a regular basis nowadays. Tirard and Harbour-Lyell interviewed 50+ leaders from all over the world who successfully went through one or several transitions.

You will for instance learn it all about Devendra, who left the Indian Army for a transportation company ; Gayle, who went from HP to Encore Fellow, a world-leading harvest food bank ; or Christina, who left the BCG for a family-owned industrial company.

We the Talent gladly met them to tackle one big question: How to help people successfully lead these career changes?

You can also buy their book here.

Why did you choose to address the topic of career changes?

Today, professionals face more critical crossroads in their careers, sometimes unpredictable, sometimes more expected, but for which they were often not truly prepared.  None of us are spared, and yet our parents and grandparents were not role models in this respect, simply because such changes were extremely rare.  So we wanted to address this disruptive phenomenon, whereby more individuals are changing career direction more often, and in increasingly radical ways.  It is seldom as easy as we might hope.  We tell the story of 50 or so career disrupters, in the aim of allowing their stories to light the way for many more, and for the patterns and frameworks that emerge to support thousands more as they carve their career paths over the years.

Can you tell us more about the framework you came up with in your last book?

Through the interviews with the 50 career changers complemented with a comprehensive review of literature, we came up with the 4E’s framework. To change career, we recommend that each and every one of us go through the cycle of Explore, Experiment, Engage and Expand again and again throughout our career.  The model is deliberately simple, but not simplistic, and involves a great deal of reflection and interaction with others.  At any one stage, we can expect to be in one part of the cycle, and not necessarily always moving forward.  The framework also raises awareness and helps better manage the many emotions – positive or negative – that one goes through when transitioning.

How can companies and HR professionals help their employees go through the crossroads they face in their careers?

Well, they can start by broadening their view of the talent pool, and actually make more hires of profiles that are more disruptive than the status quo!  Realize that hiring managers like ticking the boxes, but that box-ticking creates clone-like hires, and you just get more of what you had before.  If what you actually want is innovation and or growth, you might do better to go for the “less qualified” candidate in terms of experience or industry knowledge, but who has “been around the block” in terms of developing flexibility, empathy, persistence and so on, and who just might inject some difference into your organization, thus achieving the initial aims of growth or dynamism.  Next, once people are in the organization, treat them like partners, and make sure that you understand what they need to thrive.  This may not be what you thought, and it also may not be as difficult to do as you might fear.  If you make these two changes alone, your organization could fly in ways you previously found unimaginable. Overall, we feel that a growing number of companies are now reviewing their career management models and finally realize the importance of career as a key part of their talent management strategy.

While interviewing the 50 leaders who appear in the book, what’s the most unusual story you’ve heard? How did the interviewee turn their move into a success?

The story to which we will refer is maybe not the most “exotic”, but it is a great example of beating the odds. Mui Gek, a Singaporean national, found herself stuck in a French provincial city as a trailing spouse with young children, and achieved the theoretically impossible – landing a tailor-made role in a leading French luxury goods company.  How did she pull off this feat?  Well, via relentless networking and taking advantage of well-chosen educational opportunities, while ignoring the naysayers who said that her accent, her appearance, her background and her culture would make it impossible to join a French luxury company.  She just pushed forward, believed in herself, and kept on going until the company hired her, convinced that she would bring true value in the position she was hired into. Since then, she has been extremely successful and her career continued to progress. Mui Gek intuitively took herself through our cycle of 4E’s, and made the best move of her entire career.

Who do you wish this book could help?

This will sound like a cliché, but there is truly something for everybody here. Every single individual on this planet is going to make some kind of career change, whether from graduate student to manager, from senior executive to unemployed and searching.  All of them, however banal the change, or indeed however extreme, will benefit from the simple framework of exploration and experimentation, that lead to new engagement and expansivity. On the other hand, organizations who ignore the call to diversify their source of talent and to modernize their approach to career management do so at their peril!  Thus, HR directors and talent managers would do well to read and reflect, before taking wiser actions in the future.  We do not pretend it is easy, but we do believe it is essential.