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Lessons in On-ramping from Someone Who Has 'Been There, Done That'

By Lin Grensing-Pophal, SPHR  8/2/2013
Veressa Hendrix, PHR, is an HR professional with 20 years of experience who is on-ramping back into the workforce after choosing to take a break four years ago from a progressive career. While she seeks a new role, she volunteers with (and is a client of) Charlotte Works, a workforce development board for Charlotte and Mecklenburg County in North Carolina. Hendrix teaches employment courses on behalf of Central Piedmont Community College. Her experiences have led her to recommend some key tactics for use by HR job seekers.

Certificates. “Current and aspiring HR professionals should consider pursuing professional certifications within their disciplines,” suggests Hendrix. Certification offers many benefits to job seekers:

  • Employers view certifications as an indicator level of professional knowledge and proficiency.
  • Certification preparation may expose professionals to discipline segments in which they have not yet been engaged.
  • Certifications establish a level of credibility within the field and can be the difference between “yes” and “no.”
  • The re-certification and continuing education components promote skill refreshment and knowledge in an evolving and dynamic field and a global economy.

Minding gaps. These are the “divide between what the employer is ideally looking for and what the candidates bring to the table,” says Hendrix. Don’t pretend you don’t have them, she warns. Everyone does. Instead, she suggests, determine what your specific gaps are relative to the position and the ideal candidate and, for each gap, identify your transferable skills and experiences:

  • Related education, certifications, self-study.
  • Experience being attained and skills being applied in a volunteer role.
  • Resources, contacts and tools at your disposal.
  • Other skills and experience that you have that are related to achieving the employer’s desired results.

“Step out of the ‘I don’t have …’ box into the ‘I do …’ box,” she suggests.

Sell what they’re buying. Too many job applicants focus on what they have to offer as opposed to what employers want to buy. It’s a typical marketing conundrum that applies to job seekers as well. “Employers care more about what you can do for them than what you can do,” notes Hendrix. “In the pursuit of what you bring to the table, be sure that it is aligned with what the employer is seeking.”

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