Q. After four years of teaching, I’ve decided to change careers and head into human resources/training. But I’ve been unemployed since December. The possibility of securing an entry-level position in that field is a no-go so far and my fears of not gaining any sort of employment grow with each day. I have a background in recruiting, so this isn’t a change that is completely unrelated to my experience. What are the steps that I should take at this point?
A. How exciting and frightening, all at the same time. A few positives on your side: you have previous experience in recruiting, and it sounds like you are still early in your career. However, a challenge that you are probably encountering is the competitiveness of the employment market. You are likely competing against candidates with more experience.
Additionally, training budgets continue to be tight. You may want to refocus your search within human resources. You may want to consider a generalist role or a recruitment-focused role to capitalize on your experience.
In terms of your search, you should be networking extensively. You should be active on LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social media. But be careful not to spend too much of your time behind a computer. Take the time to connect with colleagues, former co-workers, friends, and neighbors in person as well.
Consider using the career services office of your college or university. Also consider joining professional associations within the HR world. Many professional associations post jobs and offer assistance with job searches. The Northeast Human Resources Association (www.nehra.com) is a good resource.
You should also consider temporary or contract roles. Many employers, who might be skittish about hiring in the current economy, will fill an HR need with a temporary or contract employee. Often the temp or contractor will be converted to a job on the company payroll. There is less competition for temporary and contract jobs since most employed job seekers would not consider them.
Last, make sure to keep current with your HR skills and knowledge. Professional associations often offer free or low-cost professional development opportunities.