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Transition to a Career in Human Resource Management

Tips About Transitioning into HRM

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Woman is interviewing a man across the desk from her

You Must Like to Work with People to Transition to HRM

iStockphoto / Joshua Hodge Photography

People take widely divergent paths on their journey to working in Human Resource management. They enter Human Resource management by luck and by design and they stay because they enjoy the work and the people.

Common themes emerge when you listen to the stories people tell about their transition into Human Resource management. People say they:

  • Started in an administrative role with a company and gradually took on more Human Resource management work over time.
  • Decided they wanted to work in Human Resource management and networked with HR professionals in community organizations and the Society for Human Resource Management until an opportunity appeared.
  • Worked in another role in their company, made their desire to move to Human Resource management clear to managers and Human Resources, and applied when an opening became available.
  • Worked in a component of Human Resource management, like training or recruiting, grew to like the field, and wanted to learn the whole HR role.
  • Decided to try the field of Human Resource management and took some classes or earned the PHR to prepare to enter the field.
  • Majored in sociology or psychology, people-oriented subjects, with no career path in mind, and saw a good fit with Human Resource management.
  • Applied for and worked in Human Resource management internships.

Advice About Transitioning into Human Resource Management

Readers offered these tips to enhance your chances of moving into Human Resource management:

  • Review your prior employment, education, and experiences. Tailor your resume and cover letters to highlight the components that qualify you for a career in Human Resource management. Don't expect your prospective employer to connect the dots; the employer won't take the time and you will shatter your hopes for an interview. An interview will allow you to further emphasize the connection between your skills and interests and the HR job for which you are applying.
  • Network with people who post HR jobs and influence decisions about who is hired for a position in Human Resource management. Network also in online social media networks such as LinkedIn, Twitter and the many Human Resources communities that exist at locations such as job boards, SHRM, and Workforce magazine.
  • Make your workplace aware that you are interested in an HR role and ask what you need to do to be prepared when an HR opening occurs. If they don't know, they can't help you grow your career in HR.

Stories About Transitioning to Human Resource Management

Pam Sheirer says:

"I am currently trying to transition into a Human Resources field (environmental health and safety management).

"So far, I been able to dust off some long unused experience in chemistry and some peripheral experience in safety, to be able to fill a niche, a temporary need at work. I also took as many classes, as I could find that would help me achieve my goals. I used all of that, and some excellent recommendations to apply for and be accepted to a Masters Program in Safety. I'm hoping that will help me be able to permanently transition into a safety manager's position.

"You have to be open to opportunities that exist where you currently work, express a desire to help, and use each experience as a series of steps leading to your final goal."

Sheila M. Krueger says:

"I made the transition from an R&D/Technical position into the HR area when our expertise was needed to implement their HRIS solution. I learned a lot about the 'business' of HR during the implementation and found a way to be valuable to that department by blending my technical expertise and technical skills. After eight years in that blended role, I was able to move to another company where I use my technical skills again, but in concentrating on the compensation side of HR."

Jeff Bettinger says:

"I made the transition to HR. I reviewed my previous positions and looked at the HR functions within those positions. I then tailored a resume to highlight those functions. I began networking with HR professionals in my community. Within six weeks, I had three offers. Since that time I have been promoted twice. The most important thing you can do is network. The schooling/certifications can follow. You need someone on the inside to help you get there. Many in HR have landed there after working in other parts of the company."

Cathy (Hackney) O'Brien says:

"I'm in my first job in a coporate HR setting. Years ago, I was a recruiter at a staffing service, which actually aided in getting this current position. For many years, I worked in Higher Education, Student Services Administration. Most of these positions included hiring and training student staff. Since moving to California, I wanted to work for Disney, but wasn't sure in what capacity. I checked their on-line job postings weekly, and finally came across a Human Resources position that would use my transferable skills from higher education and the staffing industry. I did not go back to school, and do not have a degree or certificate in HR."

Rob Wells, PHR (LION), says:

"My experience was similar to some of the stories others tell. I was an outside salesman for quite sometime and moved to an agency recruiting position as my product was phased out. From there I began networking in HR circles like SHRM meetings and landed a position in a corporate setting as an Human Resources Generalist."

Maria Clara Whitaker says:

"I transitioned into Human Resources from the academic clinical research field. Specifically, I boarded the main instrument of my dissertation, the MBTI, and headed towards the vast world of HR consulting."

Read more stories about people who transitioned into Human Resource management.

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