Career Changes and Salary

by Evil HR Lady on July 2, 2008

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.

Previous post:

Next post: