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Moving from HR Finance and Analytics to Compensation

A business woman walking up stairs with a briefcase.

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 started my career in finance, but I always had a strong interest in human resources. About eight years ago, I transitioned into an HR analyst role, doing HR analytics and HR program management. I loved my role as it combined my background in finance with my love for HR. I am certified and am a member of SHRM.
I was recently part of a reduction in force, and, as I explore career options going forward, I have become interested in transitioning to compensation. I think that between my finance and HR analytics experience, I have some transferable skills that would be a good fit in a compensation role. I have partnered with compensation professionals on several projects, but I do not have actual compensation experience. Do you have any advice as to how I can best get my foot in the door? I appreciate any guidance you can provide.

Sorry to hear you were caught in a workforce reduction, but your former employer's loss will be someone else's gain. You have an excellent background with an unusual combination of skills that surround and interact with the target job you have planned, and this amalgamation would seem to lead to your successful transition into a new career.

And your timing couldn't be better. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, we have a decades-low unemployment rate at 3.8 percent. All metropolitan areas are experiencing a shortage of skilled workers, and the more sophisticated the job, the greater the shortfall. According to LinkedIn, the areas hardest hit by this shortfall and therefore offering the greatest opportunity for any job transition are:

  • San Francisco Bay Area
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Austin, Texas
  • New York City
  • Los Angeles
  • Seattle
  • Houston
  • Miami-Fort Lauderdale
  • Raleigh-Durham, N.C.
  • Boston

Many of these metro areas are centers for technology, but all commercial sectors are feeling the pinch. As evidence, these well-known companies are lowering their requirements for applicants, according to Glassdoor:

  • Google
  • Random House
  • Costco
  • Whole Foods 
  • Hilton
  • Publix
  • Apple
  • Starbucks
  • Nordstrom
  • Home Depot
  • IBM
  • Bank of America
  • Chipotle
  • Lowes

This list covers a wide range of commercial sectors. For example, when we see names like Costco, Publix and Home Depot in such a list, it is likely other big-box businesses will follow suit. It's a significant shift that is likely to continue and expand, as recruitment moves from "must have" formal educational credentials to the skills, experience and professional accreditations that a potential employee brings to the target job.

In short, with this tight labor market and your unusual combination of skills, a successful transition is readily achievable. If you have the right resume, social media footprint and plan of attack to open the doors of opportunity, you should also have your pick of highly pedigreed employers.

I think that in the light of your capabilities and this time of unusual opportunity, you would be best advised to invest in a professionally written resume. You want a resume that focuses on telling the story of the skills, credentials and potential you bring to the target job. Also, as you haven't made a change in a while, it would be a good idea to get help also with job search, interview training and personal coaching.

Should you choose to do it yourself, start by identifying your target job—e.g., compensation specialist. Collect at least four job postings for this target job and make a list of their collective priorities to create a group of keywords that will help your resume be most discoverable in database searches and most relevant to a recruiter's eyes. Search "Martin Yate resume" on to find columns that show you how to do this and give you further knowledge and details for effective resume construction.

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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