How to Pursue a Career Change in HR?
Want a Different Position in HR? Here's What to Do
Looking for one of the most common questions asked on this site? People employed in Human Resources want to make a career change in HR. They are stymied by their current employer, their knowledge about what to do, and the job market. Here are thoughts on what people who want a career change can do.
Reader Question: I have been pigeonholed as the disabilities guy by my employer. I want to move into a broader Human Resources role and I don't know exactly how to do that. Do you think that getting my PHR would make me more employable as an HR Generalist or other? I have always worked with disabilities and worker comp.
Human Resources Response: Being labeled as the disabilities guy is tough to break out of, but your best, first chance for a career change in Human Resources is always with an employer who already appreciates you and your work. Here are my recommendations about what you can do now to pursue a career change in HR.
Sit down with your current boss and tell him or her that you need the opportunity to expand your horizons into a broader role in HR. Tell your employer that you have more to offer than is tapped in your current role. Make sure that you emphasize what your employer will obtain by helping you to expand your role.
Once you have emphasized what is in the career change for your employer, state that you'd like to develop a career plan to accomplish a transition. Depending on your boss’s willingness to work with you on a career change in HR, your education and other paths to a more diversified career may become clearer.
If the boss is not, earning the PHR is fine in your situation since your goal is to diversify your HR knowledge and experience, and it may be a good goal. Certifications may add to your value in certain circumstances such as in larger companies, large urban areas, and in certain markets. A lot depends on the size of your city, the size of your company, the competition in your job market, and so forth, so I can’t guarantee its contribution.
Second, read everything on this website that my readers have submitted and I have written about career transition. They are interesting stories and each story might help you think about possibilities for yourself. See:
Third, you need to talk with people in your area who are working in HR. They will know what the norm is where you live and work. How much of your competition for jobs have certifications? What other kinds of education or experience might be helpful and allow you to get your foot in the door in other companies in a different HR role?
HR people in your area will answer these questions most effectively. Conducting these informational interviews will also bring your skills and availability to the attention of people who might hire you.
Finally, networking online and at events will bring you into contact with employers and other HR career professionals. If you want a career change in HR, these are your potential employers, your peers, and your confidants. See if your current employer will pay to help you belong to professional associations and attend networking events.
If not, invest in yourself to expand your network. I'm sure that you have reasonably local Society for Human Resource Management SHRM and American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) events to attend, meet people, ask questions, and make your availability known. If not, consider participating in other business groups in your community like the Chamber of Commerce, region-boosting groups, and Rotary.
If you live near a larger urban area, there may also be meetings of these professional associations.
You can make a career change in HR, but don’t spend years pursuing activities that don’t support your change. If you follow these recommendations, you will identify the right activities to pursue to eventually reach your goal of a career change in HR.
You will find additional ideas about networking and building your HR resume in How to Become an HR Authority Figure.