Are you interested in working in HR? Or are you in HR and looking for a change?
Like any big move deciding to work in a different area can be of enormous benefit to your career. Depending on your circumstances I’ve put together a few tips if you want to venture out of your current area.
Situation: You work in HR and you want to transition into a business line role
The key here is to develop knowledge of the targeted business line. How does the business line (BL) make money? What is the business strategy? What is the competitive environment look like (major competitors are…)?
Depending on your role in HR try to align yourself with the BL you are most interested in working. For example, if you work at a bank and you are interested in working in the branches, talk with your manager about HR support for the bank branches. If that work isn’t available maybe start by setting up a networking meeting with someone in that group.
Regardless, if you support the BL already it’s important to network with contacts on the inside:
1.) You can get an inside scoop on supporting that BL from a HR perspective and
2.) You can get the inside scoop on positions in the pipeline start to shape your skill set for those positions.
What if you work at a technical company? Unless you have a scientific degree it might be difficult….Can’t be a chemist if you don’t have a chemistry degree, right? Instead of going back to school for a science degree, try your hand at moving into a marketing or sales position.
Bottom line: the skills and knowledge you’ve obtained can be enormously valuable to a business line but you have to market yourself and show people that you know the business.
You work in a business line and you want to transition into HR
First ask yourself: What is HR’s reputation in my company? Is it considered good? Bad? Terrible?
Realize that in the past companies sometimes sent their screw up’s into HR. It was seen as a dump where you could send people as a last resort. This view is changing rapidly but you need to make sure you do not work at a company with that view of HR. Moving into HR at a company that has a “bad” HR department could hurt your career at that company.
I’ve worked with excellent professionals from the BL who transitioned into HR but one key to their success was the excellent reputation of the HR group. The professionals who moved into HR (and sometimes stayed) knew they could transition back to the BL. Going into HR was not seen as the organizational death penalty.
How do you accomplish the move? Target the area you want to work in, and then find a connection either in your company or in your external network who you can talk with. Up until this point you may have had experience with HR but I always advise a person to sit down with someone who is holding the job they think they want.
It is also important to start working on developing the important skills for the area of HR you are interested in. It may help to take some training classes or work with your manager and identify opportunities that can help you move into a new role.
Bottom line: your knowledge of the business line and how the company actually works is invaluable to HR. It can be a struggle for HR to get out of the weeds so your in-depth knowledge of the BL is of enormous benefit. Developing key skill sets in the area you are interested in and the transition will go smoothly.