Your Career Q&A: Next Steps

By Martin Yate Feb 23, 2016
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This week’s Career Q&A advises on how to move within your company into HR. Best-selling author Martin Yate, a career coach and former HR professional, takes your questions each week about how to further your career in HR. Contact him at the e-mail address at the end of this column.

I’ve worked in the logistics field my entire career. I served in and retired from the United States Air Force, and since I have master’s degree in human resources management, I’ve always been involved with HR issues (training, development, safety, etc.). I now want to move exclusively into HR, and I’d like some advice on my proposed next steps. Should I:

  • Apply for and gain my SHRM-CP certification. I’m looking at the self-study method, but I’m not sure if that approach will work for me.
  • Transition within my current company into HR. I currently lead safety and shift operations in our distribution center, and I work closely with the HR team to create recognition, safety and training programs.
  • Work with recruiters to find an HR position.

I’m being very transparent with my mentor on my plans for certification and career move. Will my extensive experience in operations, coupled with certification, give me an advantage when seeking an HR job? I understand both operations and HR and how the working relationship can be improved, which I think will be appealing.

Romeoville, IL

It is always easier to transition from one area of professional focus to another within a company where you are a known quantity. The key to any successful professional shift comes from understanding the deliverables of the target job and how your current expertise supports those needs.

Your logistics background gives you considerable experience interacting with and understanding the functions and challenges of most departments. This operational background is a plus to the human resources function, while your training and development experience needs no translation. And anyone who can stay abreast of OSHA issues and their potentially costly repercussions has instant respect in HR.

You ask, “Will my extensive experience in operations, coupled with certification, give me an advantage when seeking an HR job?” Yes, of course. In fact, it will most likely seal the deal for you—probably with your current company but, if not, certainly with another. That you are engaged and willing to earn the SHRM-CP certification is further evidence of your commitment and suitability.

I would recommend re-tooling your resume for this target job. Instead of a simple recitation of what you have done in logistics, focus on the target job and the skills you’ve developed that are most relevant to the position you seek. Such a resume should include the certification credential with an anticipated date of completion, which you can include toward the end of your resume in a Professional Certifications section like this:

Professional Certifications
SHRM-CP (anticipated certification) October 2016

One of the biggest mistakes we often make when pursuing a promotion is to assume that everyone understands our abilities. Sadly, this is rarely the case. Doing a good job and accomplishing professional growth are great, but all too often we get categorized, stereotyped and pigeonholed by others. A new resume, focused on your target job, serves to correct any such misunderstanding by demonstrating that you have the skills and are serious about making the change.

A focused resume also puts you on a more even footing with external candidates vying for the job. The process of creating a new resume will help you clarify what HR is looking for and what you bring to the table, while simultaneously helping you anticipate interview questions and their answers. Remember, the primary marketing tool for any job search is your resume, so you should treat it like the important document that it is.

Have a question for Martin about advancing or managing your career? From big issues to small, please feel free to e-mail your queries to We’ll only publish your first name and city, unless you prefer to remain anonymous—just let us know. We look forward to hearing from you!

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