Tips to Make a Successful HR Career Path Switch

How to transition into a career in Human Resource management Transitioning into a successful career in Human Resource management is a switch that calls for careful planning. In cases where it happens in the course of a job, there are certain things that should be done to enhance your transition and ensuring that you make […]

Tips to make a successful HR career path switch (cover)

How to transition into a career in Human Resource management

Transitioning into a successful career in Human Resource management is a switch that calls for careful planning. In cases where it happens in the course of a job, there are certain things that should be done to enhance your transition and ensuring that you make the best of the opportunities that come your way.

HR professional

Soft skills are priceless

There are a number of soft skills that you might already have, which you can transfer to a career in Human Resource management. You need to take an inventory of skills that you have, which fall under the category. Some of these skills include your communication skills, how to handle confidential projects and information, interpersonal skills and how to resolve conflicts.

Don’t keep it to yourself

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If your plan is to transit to a career in Human Resource management within the organisation where you work, then it is important that let your colleagues and management know. You shouldn’t stop there. You should also ask for advice on how best you should prepare and apply for any related opening within the company.

Professional HR certification will help

If you are really keen on having a successful career as a Human Resource professional, you must endeavour to get the proper certifications. In Nigeria, a certification from the Chartered Institute of Personnel Management (CIPM) would go a long way in taking you closer to your career goals and aspirations. This certification also comes with certain benefits for you as a practitioner. For instance, you get to:

  • Network with other HR professionals across the world
  • Have unlimited access to a network of competencies, resources and strong knowledge base
  • Earn respect and endorsement in the HR space

Earning a professional certification in HR will help you develop and maintain high standards of professional competence and ensure that the management of human resource in Nigeria, both in public and private sectors, conforms with the best professional standards.

You could also get a certification from the Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI).

The need to retool for HR jobs

Online courses

If you’re going to switch over to HR, you’ve got to realise that you’re going to have to learn new skills. Learn them. There are now plenty of possibilities to do so without having to fork over a fortune by, for example, going back to school.

There are now such online possibilities as Jobberman Learning where you can take plenty of courses. Some of these courses are for free while some have some paid courses that come with additional free courses. Even better, as they’re being given by top-end universities, you can be sure that they’re on the money (yes, even though they’re free) and that companies that you approach will actually respect them and know that you’re serious.

So what kind of classes should you take? The best courses to take are the ones that head in the direction of psychology and sociology, as they’ll give you a better understanding both of how individuals function as well as groups. In that way, you’ll have a better idea of how a strategy will work before you’ll implement it.

Take advantage of HR internships


To gather firsthand experience as a Human Resource professional, you should consider garnering experience via internship opportunities. In Nigeria, stutern has helped interns transit into Human Resource management; either by linking them with employers who have such roles and opening or within its team.

“Empowered by a world connected by technology, employees have new tools and capabilities at their disposal. Largely all of the tasks we now do at work have been digitised, dematerialized and democratised. Talents are continually attracted to challenging positions that offer them transferable skills. This same tool plays a critical role in finding the jobs of their choice. If that is the case, employers need to continually evolve to retain and attract the best talents or the next best company might just hire them,” said Kehinde Ayanleye, a Co-Founder of Stutern.

Review your CV to become HR-friendly


You should tailor your CV to highlight the components that qualify you for a career in Human Resource management. It is not the responsibility of your potential employer to connect the dots. There usually isn’t sufficient time to do this. The important thing is to ensure your CV is good enough to earn you an interview where you can further elaborate on your skills and interests for the HR job opening.

However, your experience can actually work against you when you’re trying to break into HR. Why? Because upper management sometimes still believes that the best-suited persons for HR positions are people lower down the hierarchy. They might, therefore, look at your CV and assume that you’re over experienced, or aren’t suitable for the job they are offering.

The best way to sidestep is to change up how you write your CV. For example, during your cover letter writing, don’t focus on what you’ve done, but instead on what you’re able to do. Similarly, on your CV, focus on your skills, rather than what positions you’ve held.

After all, skills are much easier things for people to apply to an HR position template. So, if you helped manage people, then that is what you should focus on, not that you did so while working as a lawyer (for example).

HR opportunities in small businesses

HR Manager

Have you ever thought of strengthening your experience in personnel management by looking at opportunities within small businesses? Such businesses are more likely to employ candidates who can take on several jobs. To put this in perspective, in small businesses, you have a chance to sell your experience in IT,  accounting or bookkeeping whilst still being responsible for Human Resource management.

Network with people who post HR jobs

On social media networks like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, there are Human Resource communities with the capacity to strengthen your network. Examples of these are the ‘Human Resources Group – Nigeria’ on Facebook with 30,610 members, Society of Human Resource Management with 195,919 members and Human Resources Management with 161,498 members.

You should also cultivate the habit of networking with people who post HR jobs and are capable of influencing influence decisions about who gets hired into Human Resource management positions.

Take the administrative route into HR

Consider taking up jobs within the Administrative unit of organisations. The idea is to work within the unit that houses the Human Resource management unit long enough to eventually take on more tasks and projects related to personnel management.

The sales department is another way in

Working within the sales unit of an organisation has a lot in common to recruiting. They both require a lot of conviction, people skills, recognising potentials and building and the ability to influence decisions. If you can call a potential client and make a successful pitch, then it would be easier to handle Human Resource management.

Final thoughts

A lot of us didn’t consider HR positions in the years gone by because we thought it was ‘beneath our skill level.’ Of course, now we know better. HR is not easy. It has just been widely undervalued. Now, as we get a better understanding of the human brain and how we think, it’s becoming clear that HR is anything but easy. There are a lot of responsibilities to juggle and a lot of expectations to manage.

Bukola Okikiolu
Notification Bell