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Strategies for career reinvention

Changing ‘who’ and ‘what’ you are
REUTERS/Mark Makela/File Photo

By Brian Kreissl

While career coaching and counselling is different from HR, the two professions are quite closely related. HR practitioners should also know something about career management in relation to the development of career paths and job families, workforce and succession planning, counselling and providing career advice to managers and employees and even with respect to their own careers. 

No function or profession is immune from disruption these days, including HR. Reports of the demise of the HR function have been greatly exaggerated, but technology, outsourcing, cost-cutting and delegation of transactional personnel tasks to managers mean we’re likely to see an HR profession that’s more strategic but smaller in scope and numbers than was the case in the past. Reinvention may be a necessity in some cases.

Just ‘who’ and ‘what’ are you?

The way the job market is these days, I find it is important to be able to make a conscious decision and articulate just “who” and “what” you are. Employers are somehow bothered by people who are “Jacks of all trades” and capable of and interested in doing more than one thing.

When reinventing yourself, it is necessary to make a conscious decision about where you want to go and take positive steps to show that you have an interest in that new field. It is also best if you can demonstrate transferrable skills.

Other than HR generalist-type roles, employers these days want specialists rather than generalists. Yet, it’s often good to have broad generalist knowledge of one’s field while also having one or two specialties (and perhaps a fallback option if things don’t work out).

I personally have made no secret of the fact that working for 10 years in publishing and product development means I will likely never return to a traditional HR role. While I like what I do, I have wrestled with the question of just who and what I am at this point and where I’m going in the future.

Over the last few years, I have seriously considered marketing, product development, project management, law, training, academia, career counselling and corporate communications as future career options. I have also considered redoubling my efforts to pursue a career back in a traditional HR role.

All of the above careers interest me in some way and leverage at least some transferrable skills. However, at this point I am focused more on a marketing career — particularly something involving digital and content marketing and marketing communications. That area seems to be a pretty good fit with my previous background, experience and interests and demand in the job market.

Strategies for reinvention

The following are some strategies I came up with to help with my own career reinvention:

  • Go with the flow. If your career is moving in a certain direction, even if you hadn’t initially planned it that way, why fight it? Our careers often take us down paths we hadn’t initially considered.
  • Follow your job title. Job titles mean a lot, but sometimes we find ourselves with titles that don’t necessarily reflect our actual skills and education. So, why not actually get the skills and education to match the title and make yourself more marketable?
  • Grab the experience you need. If you’re looking to take your career in a certain direction, why not just go out and get the experience you need to make that a reality? In order to do that, you can volunteer for special projects and talk to people in other departments and ask them if you can help out. You could also unilaterally decide to do something that isn’t really part of your job description, get a part-time job or do some volunteer work in your chosen field.
  • Acquire skills through part-time and continuing education. Few of us can afford to quit our jobs to go back to school full-time, but most of us could complete a short certificate program on a part-time basis.
  • Learn skills online. There are all kinds of options to learn skills online at little to no cost. It’s also possible to showcase new skills using online portfolios.
  • Change industries, functions or employers, but not all three. It’s pretty difficult to change all three at once. People who change careers often have an easier time if they can stay in the same industry or try their hand at a new career within their current organization.

© Copyright Canadian HR Reporter, Thomson Reuters Canada Limited. All rights reserved.

Brian Kreissl

Brian Kreissl is the product development manager for Thomson Reuters Legal Canada's human resources, OH&S, payroll and records retention products and solutions.
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