Getting Back into HR

Martin Yate By Martin Yate December 3, 2019
Getting Back 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.

I have been struggling to get back into the HR field. I took a step back to care for an ill parent in 2011 and it has been an uphill battle to re-enter the industry. I am currently employed and living in Cincinnati, but I'm not working in HR. I have a bachelor's degree in HR management and obtained my master's degree in HR management in 2017, but I still can't back in. Please help!

The sooner you get current HR experience, the sooner you'll be back in the game. The easiest way to get that current experience is to do whatever it takes to transfer within your current employer into HR. Simultaneously, you should be looking for work assignments with temporary help agencies, which will bring you up-to-speed quickly:

  • There are plenty of opportunities for temp work.
  • You'll quickly re-acclimate to the current HR environment.
  • You'll learn the language and challenges being faced today.
  • Your resume can show you as employed in HR–a big plus.

When you go to interviews and they ask why you want to leave your current temporary HR job, tell them you wanted to get back in the game ASAP. Temp work gives you immediate experience and allows you to scrape by until you find a full-time HR position.

Additionally, companies in growth mode (exactly where you want to be) look to temporary help companies to help bridge the gap and while they find the right full-time staff.

Many employers use what is called "temp-to-perm" as a way of trying out potential employees. With your HR background, you can make a fast start, which will help you land assignments and gives potential temp-to-perm employers a positive feeling going in. You can tell a temp agency that you are particularly interested in temp-to-perm opportunities.

According to, temporary employment will grow faster than all permanent jobs for the foreseeable future. This means there are plenty of temp opportunities to give you current workplace experience with the opportunities mentioned above.

Here are the results of two Google searches I did with your predicament in mind:

  • "Temp jobs Cincinnati" generated 15,100,000 results.
  • "HR Temp jobs Cincinnati" generated 5,760,000 results.
  • "HR jobs in health care Cincinnati" (to leverage your care-giving experience of the last few years) generated 300,000 results.

In this last example, you might consider healthcare providers engaged in elder care and give some professional relevance to your employment gap.

Not all these jobs in these sample searches are for you, but clearly this is a pathway well-worth looking into for a quick return to the HR world.

Your Resume

Whatever your target job, you'll still need a new resume to get noticed. The resume you have is probably an out-of-date, honest recitation of your work history, but it will never show up in resume databases.

For your resume to work, it must be focused on a specific target job, and show what you bring to that job based on examination of a selection of job descriptions. You can learn how to do this by searching my past columns for pieces about resume writing and quickly gain lots of practical advice on how to write a winning resume.

FYI, you cannot expect to return to work at your prior professional level. So look for something that requires a little less experience, but which you can nail, and use it as a launching pad for your resurgent career. 

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.

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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