Breaking Into HR: 5 Ways To Make a Successful Career Change

by Guest Author, Miles Oliver

It doesn’t matter whether you’re changing careers because you want to pursue a passion, explore new opportunities, or simply need a change of pace — shifting from one profession to another is never an easy task. And with today’s highly competitive job market, breaking into a new field can be even more challenging.

Human Resources (HR) is a highly sought-after profession that may pose challenges when transitioning from a different field. Nevertheless, the pursuit of a new HR career is achievable with resourcefulness and persistence. This article offers five effective strategies to help you transition to HR and ultimately secure a fulfilling job in this career.

Understand the HR Landscape

Prior to transitioning to a career in HR, it is crucial to have an understanding of the current trends within the industry. As the HR sector becomes more data-oriented, employers are seeking HR professionals with proficient analytical abilities.

Additionally, the use of technology in HR is a significant area of focus, with an emphasis on automation to enhance productivity and efficiency. Staying informed of the latest industry developments can aid in identifying potential opportunities and positioning yourself for success.

The field of HR comprises multiple areas, including talent acquisition, employee development, compensation, and benefits, among others. Knowing these HR pillars and their intricacies can assist you in identifying the most suitable field for you. Each field demands specific sets of skills, so recognizing your strengths and interests becomes critical in deciding where to direct your HR career.

Identify Your Transferable Skills

Identifying relevant skills from previous roles is a crucial initial step toward a successful career change in HR. Typical transferable skills include communication, problem-solving, time management, team collaboration, leadership, conflict resolution, and project management.

Creating a list of these skills and providing examples of their usage in previous work experience will help you create a plan on which skills you'll need to acquire.

Network With HR Professionals

When contemplating a switch to a career in Human Resources (HR), establishing a network with experienced HR professionals can prove invaluable. With their extensive industry expertise, connecting with them can aid in streamlining your transition.

The field of HR is multifaceted and diverse, encompassing a range of specializations. Through networking with seasoned HR professionals, you can gain invaluable insights and an insider’s perspective into the industry. Given the wide range of backgrounds that HR professionals come from, conversing with individuals possessing distinct experiences provides a comprehensive overview of the industry landscape, enabling you to finely hone your career preferences.

There are many different ways to network with HR professionals. You can attend HR-related conferences, join professional organizations, and connect with people on social media platforms like LinkedIn. The great thing about networking is that it not only helps to build your professional profile of contacts, but can also be a great way to create healthy relationships and reduce stress.

Remember to be polite and smile when connecting with HR professionals since being approachable and friendly are foundational skills for success in HR. While your main goal of networking is to gain more knowledge and experience when moving up in your career, by showing a genuine interest in others in your network, you’re more likely to see positive results from your efforts.

Gain Practical Experience

If you’re looking to make a career change in HR, getting some experience in the field under your belt is crucial. One way to do that is to volunteer or work in HR on the side while you’re transitioning to your new career.

Whether assisting with employee onboarding, helping with recruitment, or working on employee retention programs, getting your feet wet in HR can be immensely valuable. Not only will you learn critical skills and gain experience, but you’ll also make valuable connections in the industry.

Taking HR courses can also be an excellent way to gain practical experience and knowledge of the industry. Whether it’s a course on recruitment, benefits administration, or employee relations, you can pursue plenty of online courses and certifications.

This knowledge will help you in your current job or volunteering gig and make you a more attractive candidate when you’re applying for HR positions.

Tailor Your Resume and Cover Letter

When applying for an HR role, you must demonstrate your understanding of the HR function and its pivotal role in delivering business value. Research the company and its HR policies and goals, and showcase your knowledge in your resume and cover letter.

A critical factor in tailoring your resume and cover letter for HR is emphasizing your communication and interpersonal skills. In remote settings, staying connected and building relationships with colleagues and employees can be more challenging as they no longer see each other face-to-face.

Mention how you have handled similar situations where you had to work with people in different locations. You could also include examples of how you have managed virtual teams, expanded your network, and dealt with conflict resolution, both online and offline.

One of the most significant complaints by HR teams dealing with remote cultures is difficulty facilitating transitions. This includes onboarding new employees, creating training for new and current workers, and leading change management. You could better your chances of getting hired by highlighting your skills in these areas.

Start Your New HR Career Today

Making a career change in HR can be challenging, but gaining practical experience can make it much more manageable. By volunteering or working in HR on the side, networking with other professionals in the industry, taking courses, and tailoring your resume, you can position yourself as a strong candidate and ultimately land your dream job in HR.

Need more job search advice?

Join Our DiscussionDoes your linkedin profile need a makeover

For more insights and a community of like-minded professionals join our LinkedIn group Resume Help and Advice for Professionals and Executives

About the author: Miles Oliver is a freelance contributor whose writing focuses on professional development. You can reach him at


Leave a Comment