Ok this one may be a little more self indulgent so bear with me.
I studied classical music originally and started work with a well known retailer shortly after graduating. There aren’t any permanent paying roles as a classical composer and I have always worked in retail through school and university. It was a company I love and thought I was lucky to get myself settled straight out of uni. Over time I started delivering training and found a love of learning and development and coaching in particular. It became my whole role and decided that being employed as a sales person didn’t offer the career path I was most interested in. So after a couple of years I started looking for entry level training roles. I was always employed as a sales person so my CV couldn’t reflect all the experience I had gained. I didn’t know everything about training but felt I had a good grasp of some basics and thought I would send out some CVs.
The only response I got was, I didn’t have relevant role experience.
I got disheartened and after a long chat with a good friend I looked up to, the path for me was clear. Go back to school. Study L&D and let people know that you know what you’re talking about. So I finished a foundation CIPD certificate in L&D and applied again.
No relevant role experience.
I found this odd as the people I studied with have been employed in HRD for many years and are being sponsored by the employers to complete the same course I did. Surely I was a step ahead of some candidates with no academic background? I began to think my CV wasn’t suitable and contacted a recruitment agent. She said it was a good CV but didn’t have a relevant role on it so recruiters would overlook it.
So now I am studying for my Masters in International HRM. In class I am sat next to HR managers of 10 years experience who somehow found a role in HR and I wonder what they have that I haven’t had in the past. You may think they had a role or graduate job or they have transferred internally or it was even added to their role. I have come to think there is only one thing.
I have a friend who left their job as a tax lawyer to go travelling for 6 months. They didn’t enjoy their job and wanted a career break. After coming back from travelling they decided to look for a new career path. 6 months of looking and they have found a job. As a tax lawyer.
When I look at job postings I always smile when it comes to lists of requirements. Some job specs have over 20 points that are needed to qualify for the role. Some are very specific, like knowledge of particular software. And some are very vague, like extensive travel experience. The questions in my head after all these years of trying to move from retail into HR proper is:
How do you fit without a job in the area?
Our skill set puts us on a career conveyor belt. Sometimes the belt is quite wide and you can move side to side but rarely have I known someone that has moved to another path. Graduates of many areas of study join graduate programmes in one particular area. They are trained to fit. They probably won’t stray for the rest of their career. Recruiters can look at the employable potential of a graduate but when it comes to career professionals they only seem to look at previous experience.
So how do you break the mould?
I honestly have no idea on this one. I’ve not been fully involved in recruitment. The pressures on recruiters are high so they very rarely have time to step back from the immediate. The only person that can majorly change this one is the hiring manager.
Look at the core competencies of the role and what behaviours you would like in a candidate. Behaviours can be developed in any role and can take a lot longer than knowledge.
Look at available training programmes used internally to train staff and examine the feasibility of using them with new recruits. This may take longer to have the candidate up to full speed but having someone with the right attitude and behaviours can prove more powerful than instantly knowing how to use your in house software.
Look at the successful facets of other roles, industries and sectors and look to bring them into the organisation. Diversity doesn’t stop at demographic. At a senior level business managers can now oversee HR. There is no reason to use the same ideals at every level of the organisation.
Examine what challenges are available for a candidate who can perform the role well from experience. Is there going to be enough to keep them with the organisation if they are an ideal candidate?
Don’t get me wrong. I know that an interior designer couldn’t be a doctor without extensive retraining. But in an increasingly difficult job market with a lack of talent maybe it’s time to mould any strong talent available into the talent you want after they join the organisation.