For those in careers spanning 10, 15 or 20+ years, the notion of changing direction from that career to another may seem daunting – even impossible. Those around you who declare that ‘it’s never too late’ haven’t heard the voices in your head telling you that it is.
Careers are built over a span of time that includes carefully building credentials – i.e. educational, experiential, and even relational. Those careers come with battle testing, and are wrapped in the all-important ‘market value’ conversations when negotiating salaries and compensation packages which they garner.
In other words, they don’t come easily and they are tantamount to acquiring more chips to play at the table in order to get to the next round – whatever that is.
So, why would you want to shift directions after all of that hard work? Because, you can. And, sometimes you should. HR professionals, in particular, all too often find themselves stuck in ruts, where no one (even the HR pro herself) is able to view them as a viable candidate for another role. In fact, the value-added of the very HR role they hold is challenged – daily and aggressively – more than most other fields I know. Have you read any articles on blowing up HR, hating it, or otherwise dismantling it due to its ineffectiveness lately? I have.
But, that’s not a reason to jump ship. The field of HR is necessary. Can you imagine companies without it – whatever shape or form it may take?
HR leaders working to procure the most important asset for any entity are not engaged in child’s play. The field of HR requires the highest forms of leadership, business savvy, and solutions thinking. HR colleagues are vital partners in leading the business – we’re business leaders first, HR leaders second. Skills such as organizational development and transformation, business acumen, talent management, and data analysis are very much a part of the HR professional’s toolkit – despite the opining around the prevalence or absence of them.
But, I’d like to see more paths created from HR to other fields based purely on the realization that HR leaders have much to offer. The skills mentioned above are absolutely transferable to other fields such as Communications, or the newer Strategy Offices.
Hence, shifting careers is worthy of thoughtful reflection. Setting your sights on other fields requires some deliberate steps and considerations, among them:
Understanding what’s motivating the change. Be honest with yourself about those motivations. Is it more money? More self-worth? Driven by a need to expand options through a relocation?
Taking stock of your skills, and the tools acquired in your toolkit. How have they been applied over the years and in what areas? For example, your facilitative leadership skills may have been used while in an HR role, but applied in strategy and other settings which ultimately helped to move a business initiative – or the business itself – forward.
Not making excuses or apologies for thinking differently. Claim your dreams and aspirations and don’t let others talk you out of them – or back you into boxed thinking.
Networking, networking, networking….did I say networking? Your ability to meet the right people, associated with other ‘right people’, increases exponentially according to the relationships which you develop.
Having a plan. Set clear goals around your shift and get specific in terms of actions to be taken, contacts to be made, credentials to be acquired – and when. Dream big, with deadlines.
Taking action. There’s no sense in planning if you never take a step to do anything differently. Step out there and don’t allow fear (False Evidence Appearing Real) to hinder you.
If you feel that you’re shifting careers for the right reasons and are suffocating within your carefully cultivated box on the organizational chart – do something about it. Find others who will encourage you, then be bold.
The world of business needs your leadership – replete with your HR talents.