… the HR Minion. Because even minions have opinions. And giggles.

Who do you want to be tomorrow?

This week I have been thinking about career transitions. You know, where you spend 5-10 years in one field, like finance, and then do a 180 and start your own non-profit. Or you work as a nurse and then go into Pharmaceutical sales. It’s so common it’s become trendy. Adults these days are still asking themselves “what do I want to be when I grow up?” long after establishing their careers. I’m only 31 and I’ve already had two distinct careers: Mortgage Banking and HR. Who knows what I’ll be doing 5-10 years from now?

What brought this to mind was an interesting conversation I had this week with a former co-worker. He had recently made the transition from Call Center Management into HR. It wasn’t easy; it meant going back to school and pretty much starting back at the begining. But hey, HR is totally worth it, right?

Anyway, he wanted advice on how to break out of the more transactional HR position into something strategic. As a minion myself I completely understand. No one goes into HR because they love processing paperwork. After offering up some advice, I thought I might recap and share some of it here. It doesn’t matter if you are going into HR or Underwater Basket Weaving, these are still things to keep in mind to not only help make the transition easier, but to help transition into your new career.

1. Be willing to learn. Whether it is through college classes, seminars, certifications, mentorship, conferences, or even silly little blogs like mine, learn all that you can about your new career/industry. Learning should be a lifelong imperative, career or otherwise.

2. Network, even if you hate it. It’s probably fair to say that most people don’t really enjoy networking. You are putting yourself out there trying to make connections with complete strangers after all. It’s intimidating. You don’t want to come across as desperate, creepy, or annoying. But networking is necessary and important. If you don’t actively network you’ll never know about all the opportunities out there that are never advertised. Not to mention all the great people and professional relationships you will miss out on as well. So smile, walk up to someone new and start a conversation. Or better yet, ask someone you already know and trust to make an introduction for you.

3. Join local Industry organizations. Are you leaving corporate America to start a goat cheese farm? I bet there is a local farmer’s market, farmer’s organization, Co-op, or club you can join. And if they have that stuff for goat farmers, they have similar organizations for every other career/industry. You can learn new things AND network at the same time. Bonus!

4. Get involved online. Now, you don’t have to start a blog or get thousands of followers on Twitter to be involved online. But you can start reading related blogs and reach out to the bloggers, join conversations on Twitter or Likedin groups, and participate in online forums/communities. Its still networking and learning, just online.

I bet you’ve picked up on the pattern by now but let me just be clear: No matter the industry or career, if you want to help make your career tranistion successful you need to get out there to learn and build connections. Oh, and one more thing:

5. Embrace your inner minion. Career transitions sometimes mean starting over, all the way at the beginning. That can be hard to accept when you are used to being in a position of senority or management. But the sooner you accept your new minion status, the sooner you can move beyond it and get to the stuff you really want to do.

So accept the minion work gratefully, work hard, learn all you can, build those relationships, and people will soon recognize your awesomeness. You know, do all the stuff you had to do when starting out in your previous career. Welcome to the age of career transitions; Who do you want to be tomorrow?

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