So one of the interesting things about careers is that we don’t just have one, we tend to have around seven through our lives. What this means is that many of us will come into HR already having had a career or two (or three, etc). However, I’ve seen time and time again candidates in this position fail to leverage the knowledge and experience gained in their previous careers. What happens is the candidates are really keen, but they fail to make their previous experience relevant to the role they’re applying for (I actually talk about this with people failing to make their degrees relevant to HR in another post), leaving the selection panel with little reason to employ them.
Here’s an example of a panel I led sometime ago. The role wasn’t quite an entry level role, it was more the kind of role that someone would look at after a years experience in HR or office environment. One of the candidates had no previous experience in an HR role, what she did have however was experience that was directly relevant and was able to demonstrate that in your application and in the interview (spoiler alert) hence she won the role, and last time I heard is still doing very well within it and the team is very happy. The candidate came from a hospitality background, she ran a bar, did the bookwork the hiring, all the things you do with a small business. She was able to identify and talk about many of the same opportunities and issues that HR deal with. In short she leveraged her business acumen, and along with some other impressive skill sets she won the role.
If you’re looking at getting into HR as a second or third career etc, it is absolute key just like any other role that you’ve won, to make your previous knowledge or experience relevant to the role at hand. Tell us about the amazing value you bring, we understand we’re going to teach you stuff about the profession or area – that’s a given, but it really helps us out if we know what you bring to the table.