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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Career Changes and Salary

I want to join the wonderful world of HR because it is just so darn interesting. I really think I could be a good HR analyst going into comp and benefits since I have been in consulting for six years and have a lot of financial data analysis, communication, and customer service skills. My issue is...when I am asked for my past salary, I am afraid to put down what I was really making before I dropped out of consulting (in the high 70's) because I don't want to be taken out of the pool of applicants. I want to be truthful but maybe the truth will hurt. What do you think?

Don't sell yourself short.

I've been telling people for years that if they want to be an effective HR person, they need to get experience on the business side. You have experience on the business side. (Well, perhaps. Some of the consultants I've met--well, let's just say a monkey could have done what they did. Well, maybe not a monkey unless the monkey knew power point. But, perhaps a toddler. One of those toddlers in the repeating stage of life. You know, where they have to repeat everything someone else says? Because, I've seen companies pay huge amounts of money to have consultants come in and "solve a problem." The consultant then sets up meetings where the employees that Senior Management refuse to take seriously tell the consultant what the problem is and how to fix it. The consultant then writes that up in a power point presentation and presents it. Ta-da! No thought involved. But, I digress.)

I don't know where you live or what industry you'd want to work in, but where I live and in my industry a comp analyst would not be out of line asking for a salary in the $70,000s or higher. You should apply for HR jobs in the same industry where you've been consulting. It makes your experience relevant.

Of course, if that kind of salary would be excessive in your area and industry then just make it clear that you are looking to change careers and you are willing to take the salary that comes with it. But, don't think you'd be walking into an analyst job with no experience. Analyzing is analyzing and you've done that. Just with different data. We can train you how to look at compensation data. It's harder to train you about the business side of things.

You may have noticed that senior people seem to jump around to jobs that they've had little experience in, yet we pay them a boatload of cash. Why? We're after their management skills and their ability to understand, learn, analyze, hire the right people and make decisions. Figure out what your skills are and sell yourself on those. Set up some informational interviews to learn about what a compensation analyst really does. (Please read the link first, or Ask a Manager will haunt me.) You should be able to see how your skills can apply there.

Good luck and welcome to the world of HR.


Anonymous said...

Excellent advice for anyone considering a career change, not just into HR. I can only emphasize taking the time to consider whether a salary cut is feasible. Do some homework to find out possible salary ranges for the role you are considering to make sure it supports your lifestyle. I can't tell you how disappointing it was as a recruiter to have candidates back out at the last stage only after realizing they couldn't really afford a paycut, even when they told me they would.

Anonymous said...

The HR function is littered with women that have zero business skills. How can they interview if they’ve never created, purchased or managed the profitability of a new business.

HR is just a distraction and road block for a company’s success. Many of the HR Job functions can be eliminated and others performed by lower level clerical employees.

Interviewing and recruiting should be performed by the hiring department.

Evil HR lady you’re so full of your self importance it’s pathetic. Your hubris is a function of several factors that just drip off the web page.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Evil HR Lady, I truly appreciate your advice. I am trying to position myself as an analyst rather than assistant in my new career in HR, due to my background in IT and general project consulting. I know that I'm going up against people with years of experience in this down economy and may have to get my MBA completed before I'll be taken more seriously by companies hiring HR. Is there any chance you could look at my resume and tell me what is putting potential employers off, besides lack of direct HR experience?

Anonymous said...

Wow...the hater really came out today.

I for one would love to have an actual HR person in my (very small) office. Someone who that was their sole responsibility, rather than it being a part of someone else's job that they don't like or look forward to doing, and therefore procrastinate as much as possible. I think the legal departments of many businesses also have a good appreciation for HR - can you imagine hiring departments handling all the hiring/firing on their own. Some would do fine, but others...gah! The lawsuits!

Anyway, I'm a lurker, but I thought I would let you know that I really appreciate your blog. I would love to get into HR (I currently work in Property/Casualty Insurance), and so I try to glean as much information as possible for when I start looking for a job. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

The last annonymous (11:30) is me. I hit enter before putting my name in - sorry!

Anonymous said...

Hater who clearly has never worked with a good HR dept or understand enough about business and organizational dynamics to post that. My HR dept and I have stats and financials to back up the value we add. If the anonymous poster doesn't even know enough to ask for that and dismisses all of HR (who of course are ALL women *rolls eyes* - I won't even get to the legal risk of that statement)..well then, I think I know where his company struggles (and it ain't HR!). I'll bet they don't retain legal council until someone's threatening to sue and or fine their butts off as well.

Infamous HR Guy said...

"The HR function is littered with women that have zero business skills."

First off...what??? Ah the gender bias, it goes both ways as I have met men in HR who couldn't run a business if their hearts depended on it. P.S. I am a male

Honestly, if you going into HR take it from me: ASK FOR THE $ THAT IS MARKET VALUE. I took two positions to "learn" for less money and have regretted it ever since.

A few free websites are,,, If you aren't comfortable asking for the $$ you want you might read "Negotiating your salary: How to Make $1,000 a Minute" by Jack Kent.

In a recent job offer I got an additional $6,000 for saying 10 words I gleaned from the book.

Trendster said...

Anonymous (first one) must be a consultant. ;-)

Anonymous said...

By all means, command a salary that is fair, reasonable, and what you truly believe you are worth. If not just for you, for the rest of us bone-headed women out there who don't know anything. (snort)

PS Bonnie RULZ.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for making my point and providing a good laugh. “My HR dept and I have stats and financials to back up the value we add.” Very impressive you have stats and financials. I hope you were joking. Oh yes the surreal life of an HR employee. So enlighten us about the financials …hmmm I thought so.

I love this quote form the self promoting windbag that runs this blog.
“I've even tried to cooperate with Finance, but, well you can guess how that turned out.”

“Some of the consultants I've met--well, let's just say a monkey could have done what they did.”

Get over yourself you’re not that important and worth the overhead. Tell us how many times have you worked with legal to violate an employee’s rights? You sound like a great human being. Again this blog drips with arrogance and ignorance. Sounds like you create drama everyday in your HR world to justify place.sad

Evil HR Lady said...

I'm a self-promoting windbag! I'm honored.

Oh wait, was that supposed to be an insult?

Anonymous said...

Congrats, Evil, you have your very own troll!

Infamous HR Guy said...

Isn't it sad that this person proves people are wiling to spew things "anonymously."

I bet they are a finance person....evil evil finance people


Anonymous said...

Here in India, companies do not realise the importance of HR. Especially in the software industry, the HR is jobs are everywhere and candidates are uncompromising when it comes to salaries. Candidates often blackmail the HR in hiking their salaries...or else they would hop on to another job at a higher salary.
But, i feel that this scenario will not sustain for long.
Anyways...nice informative 'evil' blog! :)

Anonymous said...

Ah, now I get it. Trolling Anonymous just got fired by someone in HR. *pat pat* This doesn't help you get a new job by the way, nor endear you to us windbags to giving you a new job. You need to give us unyielding power to mess with all employees - then we consider hiring you.

@aboyfromindia - I've experienced this in our India subsidiary and it's quite frustrating. I hope you are right about the HR function maturing in India sometime soon.

HR Godess said...

It's interesting how bold and brave someone can be then hide behind being anonymous. Careful when you say that HR is a road block to a company's success. My guess is you haven't been employed by a company with a good HR department or you've lumped all HR people in the same category.

I know many business professionals (non-HR professionals) that would disagree.

HR Godess said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Wow... EHRL, your troll thinks your blog is so awful, yet s/he keeps coming back to read the additional comments! LOL...

For the record, your advice is pretty much always spot-on, and anyone who can't see that is just ignorant.