Saturday, July 26, 2008

'Tis the season

It is, after all, Christmas in July. (I hate those ads and sales) In the last couple of weeks, I had three good friends approach me (independently) all wanting 'out' of wherever they are now and 'in' to something else. Varying reasons, similar angst. Different professions but same desired outcome.

What is curious about the inquiries is that they have one thing in common. Each is somewhere in her 40s and each has taken time out of the workplace - to stay at home full time, to have children or do mission work. Each was out of the 'business' world and lost 5-10 years in the work environment. The vacancy, and desired return to work, presents a number of issues including re-entry pay, playing catchup in title and retirement and mobility.

One of my friends, Beth (names are changed), came to work after being overseas for a number of years. She raised her kids, supported her spouse and did mission work. Terrific woman but hadn't stayed current in technology and was dated in her skill set. She landed a job as an administrative assistant supporting a department that does quite a bit of mission-oriented work. She was lamenting about the low pay (relative to the management positions) and seeming lack of respect by her colleagues. She wondered what recommendations I had for her. She also mentioned that Human Resources seemed like a 'fun' field and was interested in how I ended up in it. (I do wonder if people really knew how much work we do, if they would still be interested...)

So my recommendations follow. First she needs to get a good sense of what she would like to do and that involves a visit with our career counselor for conversation and assessments. I also encouraged her to check out the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Stats on some of the positions, descriptions and pay ranges.

For actual work, I am a big proponent of try before you buy. Informational interviews can be terrifically valuable. After talking and she still thinks HR is the place , ask to job shadow for a day. Find someone, someplace who will allow access to some of the daily work, interruptions, bedlam and chaos that can occur. (I can't since we work together and that whole confidentiality thing) If a job shadow is out, consider volunteer work in the field of interest. There are plenty of churches and non-profits who would LOVE her efforts. And, I advised her to consider taking a couple of classes in HR to get the overall taste of the rules and laws, or chains that bind, I call them.

Beth also was an RN (though license expired) and being the relatively pragmatic person I am, encouraged her to talk to the HR departments in our local hospitals and nursing homes. Many of the hospitals love recruiters with the medical experience. It could be a natural fit.

It will be work for her. And a little work for me, helping her see that it's a little work to transition.

1 comment:

The Happy Employee said...

"Human Resources seemed like a 'fun' field"

Yeah right... I always tell people that I certainly wouldn't work in HR if I had a choice ;-)