So this is going to sound crazy, but I really wanted to share this with others out there. This is a personal experience and tip that I feel like others could really benefit from.
After graduating with my MBA I wanted to focus on a career in HR (that’s what my BA was in). I did a lot of research and really focused on making sure my resume was the best I could possibly make it. I didn’t have a lot of real HR experience and really wanted to find that fancy corporate job I’d been dreaming of. You know, the one with the corner office and personal secretary who brings you coffee? Pfffssshhh! I know, I was a tad bit naïve. But I was lucky enough to land what I thought was the first step in the right direction.
Fortunately I was offered a position at a large corporate office working on the tech side of HR (HRIM/HRIS). I was stoked. Unfortunately, after about a year and a half I came to realize there wasn’t much opportunity for moving up. What’s worse was the experience I was gaining wasn’t really relevant to the career path I foresaw for myself (however vague it may have been).
So you know what I did? I took a job closer to home, at a lower seniority level, making less money. It’s crazy, I know, but hear me out. When I first started applying to positions I only applied to maybe 3. I was VERY picky and selective with what companies I applied to. I’d heard that manufacturing was one of the most difficult industries to work in (particularly from an HR standpoint). So I figured if I could learn how to do the hardest job, then that’d be experience I could really learn and grow from. Not to mention, I knew it would take me out of my comfort zone. Manufacturing offers a much different environment than my air conditioned 6 story corporate castle I’d been working at. When you go outside your comfort level you’re bound to grow, right?
So I took a position at a smaller manufacturing company (about 150 employees). The goal was to work with the Director of HR for a few years, eventually take his position when he retired in a few years. This was made clear by the hiring manager, not just assumed. So I accepted the position in hopes that I’d eventually move up to Director within a few years, which is much faster than traditional HR roles.
Well, when the time came to start my new role I was told that the Director of HR was no longer with the company. I was then offered the opportunity to train for the position. It was tough, but I made it. I was able to prove that I could fill those shoes and fill them well. As a result, I was quickly given an increase making $12k more than I’d been making in my plush corporate job. In the meantime I’m gaining experience in all things HR and I’ve grown tremendously.
So don’t be afraid to take a cut in pay or even a step down in title if it will pay off in the end. Your future is a result of what you do today. So make today count. If you’re not growing, you’re dying.