People get surprised when I tell them that my first job was an accountant. I worked for five years in the financial sector as an accountant. I later changed careers and in the last six years I have been practicing as a HR consultant.
To qualify as a HR Consultant meant going back to class. Apart from my first degree and a CPA, I had to enroll for a course in human resource management and attend various training specific to HR.
In recruitment, I interact with many candidates who feel that they are in the wrong career and are wondering how to make a switch. With my experience, I can advise you to consider the following steps while making a career change.
To start with, you have to be absolutely clear on what you want. I have a friend who is an ACCA finalist and a Bachelors in Business Information Technology. Recently, he enrolled for a Masters of Science in Procurement and Logistics. Looking at his qualifications, it is not clear what he wants or where he fits. If you are not specific on your goals, how are you going to attain them? For my friend, I advised him to look at his strengths and what he is passionate about.
My second advice to changing careers is knowing that it takes time. There’s no shortcut. You might have to go back to class. If you desire to start a new job at a career you fancy, it might mean starting at a junior level. I know of a banker who had HR qualifications but had been an operations officer earning a gross of Sh130,000. When she decided to join HR, her starting pay was a gross of Sh100,000 and she joined as a HR officer. Initially, it appeared as a demotion as she was no longer supervising as she was used to in her banking job. But since she was focused, it took her less than a year to get a HR Manager role at a salary of Sh250,000. Be prepared to pay the cost and time.
Lastly, it is important to get relevant experience in the career you are considering. Think about taking part-time jobs and volunteering to gain skills. As a recruiter, I usually get CV’s of candidates who are trying to change careers but don’t have experience. It becomes hard for me to consider them as they are other candidates who have ‘papers’ and experience. For example, if you in the banking industry and have never had a chance to practice your CPA training, how about volunteering to work as an accountant for an SME. You could also get a part time job say in an audit firm.
Making a career change need not be difficult. What you need is to decide what you want, the resources you will need and following through a well laid plan. There will be obstacles along the way, but nothing good comes easy.
Perminus has over ten years experience in human resource management working with employers from different sectors. Email firstname.lastname@example.org