“More companies today want HR leaders with diverse experiences that will help them make decisions in ambiguous situations,” said Diane Youden, a partner in professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers’ HR transformation group. “It shows that they can apply their knowledge in creative ways.”
Youden and other HR professionals offer this advice on how to land a job in a new industry.
Make moves early. When younger and in the early stages of an HR career, it’s easier to take risks. It’s also easier for companies to take a risk on you, said Jim Flanagan, chief human resources officer at auto parts store chain Pep Boys.
“If a job comes along that looks interesting, take it,” he said. “And if it doesn’t work, use it as a springboard to something else.”
Choose organizations that value HR. Especially early in a career, aspiring HR leaders want to work for a company where they can develop skills and be tested, said Tony Fogel, chief human resources officer for IT consulting firm Ciber Inc.
“To be employable, you have to continuously grow your skills, abilities and experiences,” he said.
Look for complementary industries. When trying to move across industries, consider the talent management issues of the current role and identify other industries that face similar challenges, Youden said. Common themes that span industries include regulatory compliance, labor unions, recruiting for service-driven industries and global growth.
Know the business and industry. It’s not enough to be great at HR in general. Aspiring talent leaders also need to understand the unique talent management challenges facing a potential employer and be able to speak about those issues in business terms.
Help recruiters see the connections. Unless being recruited, talent leaders will likely have to demonstrate how their experience can apply in a new field to land a job in a different industry, said Kim Shanahan, managing director of the HR practice for Korn Ferry.
Share examples of specific programs or tasks performed. Also, discuss how those experiences are relevant to the new company.
Be thoughtful about each position your take. When aspiring to be a CHRO, plan a career path that provides a diverse experience — both in industries and roles. In considering a new position, think about how it will help develop new skills. Will it provide new experiences or opportunities to take on leadership roles?