Once I realized that HR was the right place for me, it was time to explore how to make a successful career change. I found networking to be extremely important because it gave me a better idea of what’s out there. Some people mistake networking as looking for people to give you a job. For me, the benefits of networking lie in the variety of perspectives I was able to gather during my career exploration process.
Networking can also help you build connections that keep you in the loop. While a company might not be hiring for your dream role right now, staying involved will make sure you know when a more suitable role opens up. Don’t be afraid to join professional associations and networks—both within and beyond the industry you’re trying to break into. For example, if you’re trying to enter the HR space, you might broaden your scope to include business networks. Mingling with HR people can be helpful for career advice, but they often won’t be in the market to hire another HR professional.
When applying for a different role, it’s crucial to use your cover letter to differentiate yourself. Without an explanation, it’s difficult for recruiters to understand why you may be applying for a job that differs from your prior experience. Share your story to help the recruiter and hiring manager understand why you’d be a valuable addition to the team. Speak to the experiences that prepared you to take on the challenges of this new role and the unique advantages of your prior experience.
Regardless of the distance between your current role and future dream job, there are a lot of steps you can take right now to fill any skill gaps. If you have a candid relationship with your manager, I recommend having an open career conversation. More often than not, managers are very open to helping you develop professionally.