Q: After four years of teaching, I've decided to change careers and head into human resources/training. I thought I'd have a bit of time on my side, but I've been unemployed since December. The possibility of securing an entry-level position in that field is a no-go so far and my fears of gaining any sort of employment grows with each day. I do have a background in recruiting, so this isn't a change that is completely unrelated to my experience. What are the steps that I should take at this point?
A: How exciting and frightening, all at the same time! A few positives on your side: you have previous experience in recruiting and you are still early in your career. However, a challenge that are probably encountering is the competitiveness of the employment market. You are likely competing against candidates with more HR/training experience. Additionally I have observed that training budgets continue to be tight. You may want to re-focus your search within HR. You may want to consider a generalist role or a recruitment-focused role (to capitalize on your recruitment experience).
In terms of your search, you should be networking extensively. You should be active on Linkedin, Twitter and other forms of social media. Be careful not to spend too much of your time behind a computer. Using technology should be part of your search but take the time to connect with colleagues, former co-workers, friends and neighbors in person as well.
Consider using the career services office of your college or university. Also consider joining professional associations within the world of HR. Many professional associations also post jobs and offer assistance with job searches. The Northeast Human Resources Association (www.nehra.com) is a good resource for your search.
You should also consider temporary or contract roles. Many employers, who might be skittish in the economy, will fill an HR need with a temporary employee or contract employee. If the need continues, often the temp or contractor will be converted to a role on the company payroll. There is less competition for the temporary and contract roles too since most employed job seekers would not consider a temporary or contract role.
Lastly, make sure that you are keeping current with your HR skills and knowledge. Professional associations often offer free or low-cost professional development opportunities for members.
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Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.
Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.
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