Tuesday, April 18, 2006

HR - Friend of Foe?

Some of my best friends are HR professionals. They're almost always very caring individuals who entered the field to help people. But then they learn that their real job is protecting the company by keeping the company from making employment mistakes. And standard HR practice puts in place all kinds of processes and procedures to try to make sure that mistakes don't happen.

If you're seeking a job, HR folks can be your friend -- or they can be your foe.

If you're looking for a job in which you have previous experience doing the same job in the same industry, HR can be your best friend. In America's extremely inefficient hiring process, that experience is valued as the highest proof that you can do the job. And it provides great cover for HR and the hiring manager if you fail.

But if you're making a career change -- same job/different industry; different job/same industry; or God forbid, different job/different industry -- HR's job is to screen you out. And if you by some means get past them, then their job is to strongly advise those with hiring authority that they are taking a big risk. In this case, you'll find HR to be your foe.

That's why if you're making a career change, you need to do two things to be successful:

1. Figure out how to make a direct approach to the person that has the authority to make the hiring decision, by-passing HR so that you can get your foot into the door.

2. Develop information and stories that illustrate that you can do the job -- proof that the hiring manager and HR can feel comfortable with when going against their established policies and procedures.

Understanding how the system works will help you immeasureably, and knowing how to make foes into friends is valuable!

Jim Hughes is a life coach who helps individuals make successful career changes. To learn more or to contact Jim, see www.mapmakercoaching.com.