Career coach: Moving from finance to HR

Q After three roles in the finance sector, I want to find a role in the HR sector that will provide more meaningful work. What’s the best strategy for job searching? And what kind of CV do I need?

A HR is one of the more flexible occupations in terms of switching sectors, but it’s not always easy.

The first thing is to get a real grip on the kind of organisation that is going to float your boat. Think research rather than job search. Find people who have moved in from other sectors. Learn what is appealing in your background – and what seems irrelevant. Interview HR professionals in your chosen sector. Find out how they got into the field, what they enjoy about it, and how their world is changing. Work out how to translate your experience and skills in terms that could be meaningful to your new employer, and then work on your overall message.

A good job search strategy operates, usually, around a single key message – what can you offer, and why do you want to make this move? Unless you have brief, credible answers to both those questions, you will keep on hitting brick walls when you try to move.

If you talk to recruiters and employers, you will always get conflicting advice about CVs. A recent survey by outplacement specialists Career Management Consultants discovered that 88% of employers like to see a CV profile, and a similar number like to see a summary of your key competencies on page one.

Recruiters, on the other hand, want you to write a ‘straight-in’ CV – most recent job first, job-by-job details, and no summary or profile.

If you want to remain on a predictable path in your sector, write the CV demanded by the recruiter. But if you are pretty sure you want a change of direction, your CV has to work hard to re-focus the mind of the reader, which is why a well-crafted profile at the top of page one will work. Even so, don’t fill it with flowery adjectives or empty claims. Instead, use it to say who you are, what you bring to the table, and what you’re looking to do next.

Top tips

  • Get involved in projects beyond the day job, but be wary of getting sidelined.

  • Consider gaining the CIPD qualification.

  • Be focused on your career progression. Ask yourself whether what you are doing is fluid and logical. Make sure you take any opportunities presented to you.

  • Measure and record your successes and promote them within the business.

  • Establish where you can make a difference and focus on that, even if it means moving out of your comfort zone.

  • Be open to new learning and experiences and go that extra mile on projects.

  • Do not underestimate the importance of networking.

By John Lees, career strategist and author

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