Is my training experience holding me back?

"M"
writes: I have been employed in the training departments of two blue chip
companies over the past eight years. My role has always encompassed most
aspects of HR such as discipline & grievance, performance related pay,
appraisals, promotions, recruitment & selection, as well as training and
training management. How can I convince companies that my background is
sufficient for HR roles as well as training roles?  There seems to be an elitist view that training is somehow a
second  class profession.

Vic
Daniels, director at Carr-Lyons writes:

If
you truly have a generalist background and have been undertaking Generalist
duties in conjunction with your training work, then your CV needs to reflect
this.  Most employers focus in on the
first few words or lines of a CV.  I
would suggest that you look again at your CV and ensure that the Generalist
work is correctly highlighted and is emphasized before the training work you
have undertaken. 

In
the final analysis, however, there is no getting away from the fact that you
appear to have worked primarily in training in the last few years and this may
well go against you when you are coming up against Generalists who have had
perhaps more specific experience during that time.

Margaret
Malpas, joint managing director of Malpas Flexible Learning writes:

Well,
I certainly don’t think that HR is superior to training but I do think that
they require very different competencies sets.  I would suggest that you
reappraise your CV or get someone you trust to critically evaluate it for
you.  Does your CV clearly show that you have been involved in aspects of
HR other than training or as a line manager? If you really show the breadth of
your experience, any sound recruiter will look past the job title.  A good
way to do this might be to list a set of up to eight major achievements early
on in your CV so that the reader’s eye is immediately drawn to these. 

Good luck, but you shouldn’t find it too difficult to find
what you want – few people have  very wide experience in both HR and
Training.

Peter Lewis, consultant at Chiumento Consulting Group
writes:  

Your aim is to get an interview where you can convince the
interviewers of the relevance of your knowledge of the subject matter, gained
through your training background, allied to the skills perceived as necessary
for an “operational” HR role. The key steps are as follows:

With
CVs first impressions really count. 
There is usually very little time given to read them, so you need to
concentrate on getting your message across as effectively as possible. A CV
which is just a list of training roles may not be ideal. Adding a profile
outlining your breadth of knowledge of HR subjects and relevant operational
skills would draw out its relevance to an HR role. These can be enlarged upon
in the covering letter, which briefly (no more than one page) emphasizes your
HR experience, with little, or no, mention of training.

Your
research will have identified the skills and qualities, as opposed to
functional knowledge required in an HR role. Many of these you will already
have, e.g. achievement orientation, research, influencing and coaching skills.
The interview is an opportunity to bring out examples of these from your own
background. As importantly, by demonstrating the rigor of your research and the
thoroughness of your interview preparation, linking the skills required with
your own experience you should emphasise throughout the quality of your
candidature.

Your
management of your side of this process should aim to disarm what you believe
may lie behind the prejudice against people with a training background moving
in to HR. One approach may be to demonstrate the skills needed to handle
operational demands, such as proactively and speed of response. At the same
time you can emphasize that your interest in the role derives from an informed
viewpoint

You could also to explore the possibilities of
moving within your current company to more of a Generalist or other
non-training area with HR.  You have
“delivered” in this company and so could well discuss a sideways move at your
next Appraisal or alternatively applying for a Generalist role should it come
up.

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