How can you transition from one career path to another?
My advice was sought last week on how to transition from a human resources role into marketing.
Transition is fairly common these days. Many people have 2, 3 or more careers throughout their working lives.
Here's what I advised specifically in relation to a transition from HR to marketing. But the principles could be applied to any transition just by switching the skills:
- Learn to use social media for business - Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, etc and volunteer to do this for companies in your spare time until you become proficient at engaging with their client bases.
- Start writing a professional blog. It can be about any subject but it's best to choose something about which you're knowledgeable and have a genuine interest. It's important to blog regularly, keep it fresh and relevant, and make sure it's good quality - spell-checked, formatted, etc.
- Start your own Twitter account, post regular, quality information and attract a quality following. Remember this is about social interaction - two-way. Develop lists and follow specific hashtags.
- Set up Google alerts for topics that interest you. Initially, you'll receive all sorts of alerts but you can adjust your settings until you end up with useful alerts.
- Follow leading brands and see what they do on their website and on TV, cinema and magazine promotions. Their Twitter page will usually have all the latest news.
- Learn new "marketing" related skills - there's plenty of free tuition on all sorts of topics - Google Adwords, Analytics, SEO, HTML, CSS, Adobe, Twitter, Inbound Marketing, Event Planning, Email Marketing, Online Surveys. All the platforms have free tutorials so try to learn the basics, then add these skills to your CV and LinkedIn profile. Look for free tutorials on www.udemy.com, www.lynda.com, www.alison.com
- Sign up to some good quality marketing newsletters - Hubspot provides excellent free downloads.
- Follow marketing leaders on LinkedIn and read their posts.
- Join relevant groups on LinkedIn and read members' posts.
- Learn about conversions - ie converting leads into customers.
- In your HR role, think of each employee as a "customer". How do you get them to engage? How can you add value to the service you provide? How do you interact with and support other departments? Treat it as a marketing exercise and build your customer relationship skills.
- Try to get involved in your company's online pages. LinkedIn or Facebook pages would be a good place to start. Post careers and company news and promote the company's culture.
- If your company engages with universities, try to get actively involved in the promotional and event side of this.
- Attend networking events and build up your networking skills.
- Build up your copywriting skills and test them out on job ads, recruitment brochures (as far as this is possible).
- Learn to manage CRM systems, websites, forums, etc.
- Enrol on a recognised marketing course. In the UK, most marketing roles (especially senior) require a CIM qualification - Professional Certificate or Diploma - but there are lots of other short marketing courses available - many online and many free.
- When you've built up your skills, see if your employer is willing to let you transfer to marketing on a temporary basis.
- Or perhaps you could switch job to a marketing role within a large recruitment or HR-related organisation such as the CIPD where your HR experience would provide relevant insight.
- Be prepared to take a pay cut and start at the bottom but, if you've already learned about marketing techniques, you'll have a head start.
- Find a good mentor!