How can I escape admin-only label?

I am an arts graduate working in HR for a medium-sized company. This is my
first-full time job after temping in secretarial/admin-related positions for
three years and I have been here for 18 months. I am disillusioned with my job
and I want to change careers to something more hands-on and creative,
reflecting my real interests. However, I fear that the office jobs I have had have
pigeonholed me as an admin person. This is something I want to leave behind. I
need to be able to sell my HR/office experience to a potential employer in a
way that helps them to see what I am really capable of. Any suggestions?

Claire Coldwell, consultant, Chiumento

Start by thinking about what you want. You say you want something more
creative and hands-on, but what does that mean, and is that where your skills

Use your job description as a starting point, but also think about other
experiences, such as your degree study or involvement in leisure activities.
List all the things you like and dislike, are good at and not so good at, and
compile a picture of the skills you have and where you need to develop. This
will also help you to see which skills are transferable outside HR, if that is
the direction you decide on.

It might be that in the light of this analysis, there are opportunities in
your company. Talk to your manager about this, and get his/her view on what
would suit your skills.

Consider what options are available in terms of roles and further

Clive Sussams, recruitment consultant, Malpas

If you are going to escape from being permanently classified as an HR
administrator you need to review your skills and qualifications. This is a very
frustrating problem and one frequently encountered by junior aspiring HR
professionals. If you have not already done so, you need to gain your CIPD
membership as this will give you a good basic grounding for more senior posts.

If you are a CIPD member, I suggest you try and be more proactive in the
workplace and talk to your boss about your feelings. It would be worthwhile to
ask whether you can undertake any small projects or reviews of processes and
systems for example. Is it possible to transfer to another role in the
department that may increase your skills set?

If your prospects are still limited, consider applying for roles in small HR
departments that may give you broader exposure and help you move to a junior
officer level.

Warren Green, director, EJ Human Resources

I suggest you study for the CIPD qualification. This will demonstrate that
you are committed to developing a career in HR, and even if you have little
practical experience, it will give you a theoretical base. Talk to your HR
manager and explain that you wish to develop in this area. Maybe he or she can
filter work to you that you have not been involved in before. If this is not
possible, it is essential that when applying for new HR roles, your covering
letter indicates your interest and passion for HR, with examples of how you see
yourself developing, given the opportunity. At more junior levels, employers
look for potential and enthusiasm in the people they recruit.

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