My next move: Benefits and communications

Q I am a benefits and communications specialist and have been in the same company for eight years. I need to change jobs due to relocation, but am not sure how I would be perceived in the jobs market as I do not have any qualifications in HR. Everything seems geared towards degrees and CIPD qualifications to secure a new job in HR and I don’t have these.

A Qualifications are often used by employers to benchmark candidates, and if you’ve been with the same company for eight years you need to position yourself correctly in the market. A Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) qualification also enables businesses to gauge your abilities.

Think about the competition. The chances are they will have these qualifications, but your strengths will lie in your practical experience. You’ll need to do some preparation around the projects you’ve successfully completed, providing real examples of what you’ve done and what you’ve learned. Think about how you might have done things differently or improved them. A competitor with the CIPD qualification is likely to give a more ‘theoretical’ answer.

Your skills and experience need to be pitched to recruitment companies you sign up with and potential employers.

Speak to friends or acquaintances at other companies in similar roles to you. If you’ve been with the same employer for a number of years, you can develop a ‘local language’ and presume the interviewer will know what you mean. Look at internet recruitment sites to find out how other companies refer to roles that fit your skills.

From your question, it’s difficult to tell whether you specialise in internal communications and marketing or in communicating benefits schemes. This is where you’ll need to make sure the terminology you use is understandable. You’ll need to use your CV to explain how your current employer works so make sure you position yourself correctly.

Ensure you show that you’ve had a progressive track record at your current company. If you’ve worked in different roles, sell this positively. Show how your job has progressed, otherwise potential employers could think you’ve been treading water.

Finally, be prepared to answer the question as to why you don’t have a qualification. The reasons are personal to you, but think about your response prior to the interview.

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