6 career transitions for talent people

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Luke Shipley
August 12, 2020
Updated on:

Why isn’t there more information out there about career transitions for talent people? One reason is that, as recruiters we usually have a broad overview of other jobs. Getting to learn about different lines of work is one of the fun parts of recruiting. There aren’t many other professions in which you get the opportunity to do this. We recruiters have seen many people make transitions so we should be better informed and more confident about making them ourselves.

It’s not uncommon for a recruiter that specialises in a field to move into that industry, whatever it might be. It’s a move I made myself 4 years ago. Since this is the case, I’m not going to list a load of jobs you understand already. But I am going to provide a framework for different job categories for you to consider, depending on the parts of talent you enjoy.

This is most relevant for people who want to work in digital businesses. Adjacent fields you recruit for can be advantageous, but there’s lots of great general transferable skills in talent. At the top of each job type, I’ll give you traits and activities that are useful in this field of work. So read on if you like that aspect of talent, or get in touch with someone that’s made the transition.

- Scrum Master @Travelport, ex-talent @Travelport

“The best way to position yourself to make a transition out of Talent and into a different field is to invest your personal time into it, get certifications, and convince someone at your current company to give you an opportunity in your current role. In my case, I wanted to be a scrum master so I took the Scaled Agile (SAFe) Certifications and volunteers to be a scrum master on a part-time team to one of our Directors leading the agile transformation.”

1. Sales

  • Skills: Building relationships, communication
  • Transferable Talent Task: Engaging candidates, candidate qualification

If I had a pound every time I heard recruiting is basically sales… It’s not, but there are some transferable skills. Sales is the second most popular transition to make out of Talent according to a recent report. The comparisons between Talent and Sales are endless but there are some key differences to understand before considering the transition. Sales is an aspect of recruiting which shares some activities, for example identifying needs, qualification and delivering appealing offers. But sales is a one-way transaction with one buyer and recruiting is a two-way transaction with two ‘buyers’, Rob Long gives a pragmatic view of . The process of building relationships with people is particularly transferable to sales.

Rob Long, VP of EMEA @Workable, ex-recruiter.

“Yes, both sales and recruiting involve a lot of chasing, calls and pitching. But no, recruiters don’t ‘sell candidates to companies.’”

2. Developer

  • Skills: Analytical, problem solving
  • Transferable Talent Task: Scraping scripts, advanced booleans

Since technology is such a deep and broad category, the bird’s eye view a technical recruiter experiences can be very useful. When you’re looking at transitioning to a developer, you’re probably going to be on the web or mobile side. It’s not impossible to transition into more scientific roles (Data Science) or lower level engineering (DevOps, Security, Hardware) but it’s a less common transition as these positions tend to require some kind of significant study in the field of a number of years.

The advantage technical recruiters have is insight into lots of different types of business’s technical structure thanks to your broad knowledge of the field.

Developer @Memrise, ex-talent @Clearscore:

“It's not hard, anyone can do it. But it's a shit load of work and it's totally worth it.”

3. Human Resources / People

  • Skills: People, Organisation, Process
  • Transferable talent task: Building relationships with hiring managers.

This is a well trodden path and therefore a very natural transition. HR is the most popular transition for Talent people to make with 1 in 4 Talent switching to these roles. As Talent people we can rub up against HR folks the wrong way. I think understanding the role that HR plays is important for everyone in talent and if you can experience it, even better.

Many forward-thinking companies are transforming what it means to be in HR beyond managing the payroll and sick leave. If you’re a TA who is passionate about people, working in a People team can give you a chance to play a role in shaping company cultures and creating excellent places for people to work and thrive. Small startups will sometimes look to combine HR & Talent so this hybrid role can often be the best way to make the transition.

CPO of Your.Md, ex-YoyoWallet and PayPal.

“Go into a wider HR role with your eyes wide open: you’ll need to be able to distill complex laws and details into accessible language; you’ll also have to be willing and able to have challenging conversations with people - where the outcome can impact lives”.

People Experience Manager @Touchnote, ex-talent @Curve & Pod.

'Bring your passion for people to the role. You're already skilled at building relationships and managing stakeholders so take it to the next level as you transition into a people role. You'll need to support organisational changes and have some difficult conversations so soak up as much knowledge as you can. There is a wealth of free learning out there, particularly at the moment with a huge amount of webinars. And remember, HR isn't about telling people off, or looking at how much leave has been taken, you'll need to be obsessed with everything people, values, and experience.

4. Marketing

  • Skills: Creativity, Attention to detail
  • Transferable talent task: Sourcing, employer branding

Sourcing today, can often be a creative writing test. Coming up with new ways to approach, connect and attract talent is totally transferable to certain forms of copywriting. How can you grab this person’s attention and engage them in a handful of words? However LinkedIn analysis shows this is actually a rare transition to make. Perhaps because this is a vocation often suggested to require study in the field. But if you enjoy this side of talent then an Employer branding or Talent attraction role could be a great stepping stone into a fully fledged marketing role.

Charlotte Hall, Marketing Director @zincwork.com, ex-resourcer @Hays:

“The resourcing role I did helped me develop some key skills around understanding motivations, engaging and building relationships - all totally transferable to marketing.”

5. Operations

  • Skills: Systems design, Automation
  • Transferable Talent Task: Automating processes, Talent operations

If you get a buzz out of building processes, plugging together tools and setting up automated pipelines, then operations could be a good move. Skills in refining and updating policies and procedures are valuable in this role, so having a few achievements in identifying and clearing out  in your processes, implementing the right tech to, or if your strengths are managing various stakeholders, could all help you transition into this line of work. This is another role where long-term vision and strategic thinking are handy attributes, as well as leadership. You’ll need to have a good overview of the business and know strategically where you want to be and have the influence to take your people along the journey with you.

Ops @Cytora, ex-talent @Cytora:

“Working in startups gives you a huge variety of opportunities to take on projects outside of Talent”

6. Customer success

  • Skills: Communication skills, Empathy
  • Transferable Talent Task: Talent coordination, Managing pipeline

Customer success is a really rewarding option for talent folks that enjoy overcoming candidate challenges. Many concepts of candidate experience and onboarding are taken from customer success and are directly transferable. This job is all about building relationships, anticipating and managing expectations, and delivering a positive experience with the aim of customer retention - not so different from managing candidates and new hires. Customer success is an accessible field, with low barriers to entry.

Customer success @Real Links, ex-talent @Fidelity

“You need to build really strong relationships with your customer which TA and Account Management is all about.”

Customer success @Rungway, ex-talent @Linkedin & Nokia.

“You would continue to use your influencing and relationship management skills while also growing your commercial acumen. A well rounded CS professional invests in continuous learning by not only being commercially astute but also being a domain and product expert. From there it's about cultivating a data-driven mindset to deliver solutions and measurable success on an ongoing basis.”

If you’ve made the transition to one of these professions above, to offer support to others. Or if you’re looking to make a transition, get connected with people that have successfully made the transitions above.

This blog was inspired by the 23 alternate engineer, and was written in collaboration with Recruiting Brainfood (https://www.recruitingbrainfood.com).

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