Expert’s view: Richard Chiumento on how to go about a career change

Richard Chiumento is CEO of Chiumento, a multi-disciplinary HR consultancy.
He has made nine major career changes including a move from strategic HR to
line manage-ment, and stints in sales and marketing roles.

What new fields are available to HR professionals?

E-HR and people metrics are opening up new ways of thinking about people at
work.Broadly, HR professionals are well positioned to move into operations,
general management and procurement. Other options include careers such as
accountancy, but be aware of the training implications. Success will come to
those who can translate sound ideas into practical solutions.

What are common failings made when moving to a new field?

People tend to have expectations which are too high and want things to happen
too quickly. Lack of proper research and understanding of a new role can also
cause problems, as can lack of self-awareness about suitability to a culture or
role. Build and maintain your relationships and networks.

How can HR professionals make themselves more marketable?

Improve your general business and financial awareness and under-standing,
build and maintain your networks, understand technology and keep up to date
with manage-ment thinking. Experience different sectors through secondments;
volunteer for business projects for broader experiences. Perhaps you could
learn a new skill, such as a language. Create specific ‘experience and
attainment’ targets on a quarterly basis.

What precautions can be taken to avoid making a wrong decision?

Be clear about your values and what you want from your decision. Consult
everyone who will be affected such as mentors, supporters and family, and
anticipate the disadvantages as well as benefits. Do your research thoroughly
and talk to other people who have made similar moves. Be realistic and prepared
to give ground.

Should external advice always be sought before embarking on such a route
leading to a career change?

Yes. The wider you cast your net, the broader the opinions you will receive
and the better your decision. Internal advice can be useful, but make sure
there’s no vested interest. Evaluate all views before making your decision.
Once made, invest heavily in making the move a productive one, but ensure you
can cope, financially and emotionally, if it doesn’t work out.

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