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HR Career Planning: Getting Your Marketing Strategy Right

At The Chapman Consulting Group, we are often approached by HR Leaders looking to make a dramatic career shift. Most commonly these involve a change of industry, or HR specialisation, or geographies. And its not uncommon to see HR folk who want to change two or three of these variables at once.

It is important to understand the complexity involved in making such career shifts. Admittedly we do sometimes see HR practitioners ‘strike it lucky’ and switch industry, specialisation and sometimes geography all at once. But more often than not, we see people unsuccessfully sitting on the sidelines and wondering why their job search is taking so long.

To ensure your marketing strategy in securing your next job is as practical as possible, we advise taking note of the following tips :

  1. HR talent looking to switch jobs in the same country, in an identical industry, with an identical specialisation, covering an identical geography, stand the fastest chance of making the transition. This is even more so if the new employer is a direct competitor to their current employer, or the role definition is exactly the same as what they are currently doing. With this type of move, an HR practitioner is likely to have the strongest potential for a salary increase, given that their experience will be valued highly by the new employer and, most importantly during current economic times, there is less risk in the person not working out.
  2. HR talent wishing to switch to a new industry should look to industries which have similar characteristics. Technology and banking, for instance, both tend to be fast-paced industries with similar HR models, although the business HR acumen required in both may be very different. A technology HR practitioner would be best placed to look at entering the technology and operations division of a bank. An HR practitioner with FMCG experience could be marketable in a consumer focused business unit of a non-FMCG company.
  3. HR talent looking to switch to a new HR specialisation ideally should look to do this within their existing employer, who will be more open minded to make this change happen. If forced to look externally, a smart HR practitioner will look to perhaps not switch their specialisation immediately but rather look for a new boss who is open-minded to making the specialisation switch happen in a short-term timeframe.
  4. HR talent seeking a change to a new location should avoid switching HR specialisations and industry at the same time, where possible. They will be most marketable in a new location in an industry where most of their experience has been gained to date. It is wise to narrow down potential locations ideally to one main location and perhaps one back-up location. This allows a thorough and deep approach to the job search.
  5. HR talent that wish to change roles with a new role remit, in terms of geographical coverage or team size, should look to leverage off as much of their existing geographical and team management experience as possible. In terms of geographical coverage, this generally means that an HR practitioner should have covered as much of the region in a previous role as possible to maximise their potential in securing the job. Similarly with team coverage, it is wise to shoot for roles that are managing a team structure that resembles those that you have managed before.

During recent times we are seeing hiring decisions for HR talent being made with more and more conservatism throughout the Asia Pacific Japan region. Organisations going to the external market are looking for potential HR candidates who can ‘tick as many boxes’ as possible on the potential criteria list.

While we are a big advocate of HR talent broadening their careers by trying to switch employers to expand their role remits, industry knowledge, HR specialisation and geographical coverage, we also believe in being realistic. When it comes to changing jobs, few people like being the number two on a shortlist. Focus the majority of your effort on scenarios where you are likely to be the strongest candidate possible.

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