Sage advice on HR experience

by 27 May 2009

Q. I have been a HR professional for 27 years, and until recently with my last organisation for twelve years. My role was made redundant as part of a corporate downsizing and I am finding the job market very daunt ing in the current environment, particularly to someone with a few grey hairs who hasn’t had to interview for a long time! Any tips?

A. In the current environment, your length and depth of experience could be put to very good use. We are seeing more organisations turning to ‘subject matter experts’ to help them navigate tough times. A client re cently commented that she was viewing mature workers as the white knights of the global financial crisis, who are able to demonstrate wisdom in a downturn and provide unique insight and anecdotes. Some of your younger HR peers may be grappling with major change projects and downsizing for the first time in their career and would value a wise head.

So, turn this to your advantage. What are your options?

Firstly, take some time to map out your key strengths, skills, passions and knowledge. Where do you excel? What particular expertise do you hold? Where can you add significant value to an organisation right now? Make sure your resume reflects this and is not just a duty statement. It is also worth ensuring that your resume is ‘age neutral’ to avoid unnecessary bias by a hiring manager. Seemingly obvious things such as removing date of birth and HSC dates, but also containing detail on career history to just the past twenty years.

The next step is to assess which industries are less impacted by the fi nancial crisis, or indeed, are thriving as a result. Do your research. Which large mergers and acquisitions are on the horizon? These call for experi enced HR operators to oversee the people projects.

Cover all your job search bases in terms of internet job boards (includ ing niche boards such as and and spe cialist HR recruitment agencies, but also map out your personal and pro fessional network and make sure you are having plenty of conversations with people who can open doors for you.

Many experienced operators are carving out a lucrative portfolio ca reer, allowing them to work with a number of organisations in their area of expertise on a project basis. This relies on your ability to seek out opportu nities and sell yourself in to the company. So if you lack confidence in this area consider targeting HR consulting firms, both large and small. Firms value the versatility and client relationships skills that more experienced professionals bring to the role.

Once you get your foot in the door, you need to make the right first im pression with a polished and authentic interview. Check out the Yale Inter view Guide as this is an excellent resource to brush up on technique. Con sider seeking advice from a professional career coach or tap into your recruitment consultant network and seek honest feedback on your re sume and interview skills.

And last but not least – take care of yourself! Now is the time to see a good financial planner to make your money work for you and book in for a health check. The right balance of diet, sleep and exercise goes a long way to projecting a healthy positive image to a prospective employer, not to mention building resilience and alleviating stress in uncertain times.

Good luck!

By Alison Monroe, director, SageCo. 02 9236 7337.