Don't Tip Your Hand in Your Job Search

By Martin Yate November 18, 2019

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.

 I am trying to transition into HR. I asked my current employer if I could do an internship with another company, but my boss would not rearrange my hours to accommodate that.

Is it 
possible, then, to work only in the evenings in human resources? I am most interested in recruiting, but my skills and experience would be valuable in multiple divisions of HR. I look forward to your insight. 

I can help you with this, but I first need to alert you to the realities of professional life. If I read your e-mail right, your current employer rejected your request to adjust your working hours so that you could do an internship at another company for a different job.

Your decision to pursue other employment may be in your best interests, but it is not in your employer's best interests. If you decide to leave your current position for a job elsewhere, your manager is going to bear the blame. A resignation hurts productivity and can cost the company thousands of dollars to hire and train a replacement. Your manager wants to avoid that at all costs.

And when a manager finds out that someone might be looking for a new job (as you have hinted), that manager starts scouting for a replacement. As soon as one is found, you might be asked to leave.

In the future, I would strongly advise against telling an employer that you are actively pursuing other opportunities. There are other approaches.

Be Proactive and Private

How you manage your career has enormous impact on the quality of your life, both on the job and after hours. You are talking about making a significant strategic career move and should make such moves very carefully. Some advice:

  • Do not discuss changing jobs with management. If you feel they will maintain confidentiality, you could approach HR in your current company to seek an internship. Your odds for making a successful career segue are better with an employer for whom you have worked diligently and well.
  • Do not discuss your plans with other people at work. Co-workers can, do and will pass on juicy gossip. Keep these things to yourself. You cannot afford to trust others with your financial security.

Make the Right Move Happen

You say your skills would allow you to move into many HR positions. Since you didn't list those skills, I can't give you specific advice except to say that the resume you develop should be tailored to the needs of the target job and should explain the applicable skills you bring to the table, rather than recite your work history.

You mention a special interest in recruitment/talent acquisition and wonder if such jobs can be done in the evenings. A lot of recruitment takes place outside of traditional 9-to-5 work hours when potential recruits are more able to talk confidentially. So, yes, there are lots of opportunities available. I spent a few minutes on Indeed.com using the following search terms and got hundreds or thousands of results for each:

  • Talent acquisition work home
  • Talent acquisition flextime
  • Talent acquisition evening
  • Recruitment evening
  • Recruitment flextime
  • Recruitment work home
  • Recruiter work home
  • Executive recruitment work home

By no means will all jobs you find be suitable, but there are plenty of opportunities.

Two Types of Recruitment Jobs

You will notice in your search results that there are two different kinds of recruitment jobs that you can pursue:

  • Recruiting within the HR department of a company.
  • Recruiting for a headhunting/recruitment/third-party talent acquisition company.

Both have pluses and minuses:

  • Recruitment within the HR department of a company can be more structured, less risky, less proactive, less remunerative and more secure.
  • Recruitment for a headhunting/recruitment/third-party talent acquisition company is likely to be entirely performance-driven, making it less secure and potentially far more remunerative.

In terms of ongoing opportunity for economic security, both of these types of jobs have lateral flexibility and good options for moving from one to the other when need or opportunity arise, but it's generally easier for people in headhunting jobs to make that transition. Having myself moved from headhunting sales management to director of HR of a publicly traded technology company, I would say both are worth looking into.

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 YourCareerQA@shrm.org. We'll only publish your first name and city, unless you prefer to remain anonymous—just let us know.

Packed with practical, honest, real-world guidance for successfully navigating common HR career challenges, Martin Yate's new book, The HR Career Guide: Great Answers to Tough Career Questions, is available at the SHRMStore. Order your copy today!

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