My next move – fearing the end

by 08 Jun 2007

Q. I will be redundant by the end of July. I have had over 20 years’experience in HR and three years ago took the ambitious route of widening my career and carrying out a general management role while retaining the HR senior position within a manufacturing site.

I am fully qualified and consider myself to be a commercially focused senior HR professional but I cannot seem to secure a new senior HR position.

I am told that I am too experienced, not experienced enough and that progressing into a general management role has made me less marketable as an HR person as I am viewed as being away from the HR profession for too long.

I have even tried to move into the public sector but recent experience of this tells me that this is just not going to happen.

Is this the end of my HR career? How can I stop this from happening?

A. There are definitely opportunities for HR senior managers with hands-on experience as a general manager.

As a senior HR manager with general manager experience you can offer more to a company as you are able to better engage the senior managers on the business decisions.

HR managers/directors require certain attributes where they need to understand how the business operates, what the business does to make money and how to add value to the bottom line.

The senior managers look to HR to help business be more competitive, improving the culture of the business and understanding how business operates.

HR managers need work with the CEOs on developing leaders, culture and talent management though guidance.

The HR area is moving away from the functional role to a more strategic executive partnership.

With over 20 years’ experience in HR you can leverage off your industry contacts and networking opportunities. It is valuable to stay in touch with ex-bosses and colleagues for future opportunities and often the best references and contacts come from people you know or have previously known through business.

There are many networking functions through seminars and networking HR industry meetings you can attend on a regular and reoccurring basis where you can help market yourself and discover opportunities which are not always advertised.

When you are actively looking you should have a suitable marketing tool to assist you target the appropriate roles and companies you would like to work for. By having a structured plan it can assist you in working with a strategic marketing plan.

The marketing tool would have what your professional objectives are and what direction or style of organisation would attract you. Look at what essential job functions the role would have and what desired job functions you would be attracted to.

Having a profile on you in regard to your vision, strengths and achievements, assists all potential employers.

Have a target market where you have been successful, where you understand the industry and can offer added value to the business.

Secondly, look at the size, location and culture of the organisations you would like to target.

Finally, research specific companies you would like to target and market your résumé to suit the roles and the companies you would like to approach.

HR skills are transferable into the private and public sectors when you have strong HR skills and experience.

This is not the end of your career but an opportunity for you to show potential employers that the combination of your great HR and general management experience is an advantage to any organisation – by understanding the business needs as well as HR.

By Julie Carran, general manager,2discover.