Your Career Q&A: Mind the Gap

By Martin Yate Jan 26, 2016
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This week’s Career Q&A helps HR jobseekers fill in the experience gaps in their resumes. 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 just graduated with my associate's degree in office administration, and I’m currently enrolled in a bachelor degree program for HR development. With a strong administrative background, I am trying to attain an entry-level HR position, but I keep getting turned down for not having any HR experience. I just started my degree program, but I'm very ambitious and ready for the next level. What step should I take moving forward?

Monica, Indianapolis

If you have been following the column, you’ll have read my opinion that people get hired based on their credentials and not so much their potential. So yes, you might feel ready for the next step, but if you don’t have the credentials to warrant a manager taking the risk when other candidates have real experience, you won’t get hired. Nevertheless, you can achieve your goals, but you might need to take a couple of smaller steps with greater odds of success instead of one big step with poorer odds.

Here are three approaches likely to get you started in an HR department, probably at the lowest rung, which will give you the exposure and experience to go after a more robust HR job:

  • Many career professionals are beginning to see an internship as the new first job. Visit Career Services at your school and start looking for internships in HR now.
  • Approach local temporary help companies and ask for office administration positions exclusively within HR departments. Don’t accept anything else offered. You can tell the temp company representative that you are especially interested in working for companies where temporary to permanent employment is a possibility. The temp company would get paid for this so asking isn’t going to cause any offense.
  • Start applying directly for office administrator positions within HR departments. The fact that you are also pursuing these jobs while earning an HR degree will help differentiate you from other candidates, and with some companies you might even get help with tuition. Once on board, your commitment to attaining the right educational credentials will encourage the department head to give you an opportunity to move into a formal HR position as you prove yourself and opportunities arise.

Martin Yate is a New York Times best-selling author and has worked as a Silicon Valley headhunter, director of HR at a publicly traded technology company, and director of training and development at a multinational employment services franchisor. His company, Knock ’em Dead, delivers professional resume and coaching services.

Have a question for Martin? 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. We look forward to hearing from you!

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