Ask James Caan – 12th July – Issue 55
Thank you to everyone for posing their questions to last week’s guest columnist, Bev James. It was fantastic getting a new perspective to take questions from the community, and I’m already looking for the next guest writer – details to be confirmed very soon!
This week the column is discussing some of the problems candidates face when transitioning from an entrepreneurial environment where the pace is fast to a corporate culture with its rigid processes and practices.
Take Minal’s situation for example. She’s been working as an HR professional for the past four years and was unfortunately recently made redundant.
‘I want to pursue a career in HR, I am also starting my CIPD in September this year. Only problem is that the company I worked for was a very informal family oriented company.
‘So now when I look for jobs in the corporate sector, it seems they don’t think I will fit well and I am not able to get any offers inspite of getting interviews. Do you have any tips as to how to market myself to companies inspite of no corporate experience’.
Minal, your situation, unfortunately is a common one. Many human resources professionals from all levels of seniority have found themselves seeking employment as businesses continue to shed their staff spend. As a result, many have gone on to change careers, refocus their search and like you, study for industry qualifications to gain a competitive edge.
What makes your situation even more interesting however, is how your experience of working in an entrepreneurial environment is being held against you.
Admittedly there are very stark differences between the smaller business and corporate climate, but I would have thought the experience of working in such a diverse, start up would have exposed you to a number of working practices and better equipped you.
As an entrepreneur, I know that working for a new business can be extremely exciting – but it’s also one of the hardest things I’ve done. With small businesses comes less corporate tape, managers tend to adopt very different leadership styles, and typically, staff are expected to cover a number of responsibilities.
But this wealth shouldn’t go against you. Despite the environment, in your role as an HR professional I imagine you will have had to learn new things, create new processes and set standards and policies – all extremely important tasks that are relevant to a career in HR. You will also have had to demonstrate critical HR competencies such as listening, negotiating and influencing – all of which can be transferred to any sized companies.
As you will already be aware, HR as a discipline demands integrity, confidentiality and a high level of interpersonal interaction.
Your past employment clearly demonstrates situations in which you could practice these skills. Show that you can ‘hit the ground running’ and start communicating your strengths in a way that is understood by the HR market.
It’s good to see your CV is working and you are getting interviews, but like many others, selling yourself in an interview setting is a stumbling block. Your challenge is to come up with innovative ways to engage with employers and show them how you can add value to their business.
In the current competitive job market, it is all about standing out from the crowd. And Minal, I’m pleased to hear you’re staying ahead of your competition and studying a CIPD. This will make you instantly more employable and boost your earning potential.
Remember, Minal, your qualification alone will not be enough: you need to extract from your experience every possible activity relevant to HR. You clearly possess the right qualities to succeed; you just need to demonstrate how these can add value to an employers’ business.