Any career advice greatly appreciated

I am due to qualify level 5 at the end of March. I have more than 10 years management experience gained in large retailers managing stores in excess of £10m turnover and staffing levels of around 400 employees. I have had endless involvement in disciplinary, grievance, staff headcount, scheduling, TUPE, setting reward, career progression etc

As I have taken a slight change in direction, and have been out of the senior management job roles for 5 years due to a career break, I am at a loss of where I need to place myself in the job market. I am currently employed part time as an internal recruiter for a small business. I am the only HR function within the company and although I am trying to influence the CEO into employing me full time, there is a lack of understanding on how key it is to have someone with HR knowledge and experience within the business.

So, I have decided to start seeking new opportunities. I do not mind starting on the bottom of the ladder, but because I have a fair amount of management experience, I am getting the vibe that no one wants me for a junior role, but because I have no sole HR experience, I seem to be lacking for the more senior roles too!

As I mentioned in my title, any advice would be most welcomed


  • Steve Bridger

    | 7585 Posts

    Community Manager

    28 Jan, 2015 14:03

    Welcome to the community, Megan. I know colleagues will chip in with their thoughts on your dilemma.
  • Kate

    | 430 Posts

    Chartered Member

    29 Jan, 2015 16:20

    Can you target retail HR?  Might be able then perhaps to get in at a suitable level as they know how relevant your experience is?  Most large shops have HR people in store I think, basing that on the old supermarket signs with So-and-so Personnel Manager on them.

    Alternatively maybe offer to do some work experience in the time you aren't spending in your part time job so you can get some experience as an HR Advisor elsewhere?

     Without experience in applying or advising on legal matters/ER, I think you are right to look at taking a step back.   

    I've never used this agency, not being in retail, but I remember their old people management adverts http://www.retailhumanresources.com/.  Maybe contact them?

     Whilst googling for them I found http://www.retail-hr-summit.co.uk/post-event-2014/.  I didn't read any further but maybe it will inspire you or suggest some people to contact? 


    Hope some of this helps, good luck. 

  • I understand completely where you’re at Megan!

    There is many a thread on here pertaining to career change into HR so do give them a read as they  contain useful tips and also it is good to hear that at least you are not alone.

    I have a similar level of management experience to you but in a different sector and I chose to pursue a career in HR back in Aug 2013. I managed to get a HR & Office Manager position for an SME however I am now looking again to make a leap into a pure HR role with a lot more scope. It’s very tough. As you say, you’re either overlooked for being too experienced or knocked  back for not having enough pure HR positions on your CV. It can get incredibly frustrating! At times, you can feel like your 10 yrs of management experience was worth nothing.

    So, for what it’s worth here is what I’ve tried:

    1. Look for HR & Office Manager roles as well as pure HR ones– but establish what the HR scope is and also what the Directors/CEOS see as the role of HR in their business now and in the

    2. As mentioned in the above post, trawl the retail sector (if you’re happy to go back to it). Your front line experience will add fantastic and invaluable insight.

    3. Ensure your CV is as HR slanted as possible. I adjusted my CV to focus on competencies and achievements so as not to draw as much attention to the roles I have held.

    4. In your current role, how is your relationship with key middle managers who have perhaps influence at the top? You may be able to influence them to have words with the CEO about all the good ideas that you have. Get others to promote you. You ‘get them’ as you know whats it like to be in their position, so use this insight to gain influence.

    5. How is the management firepower where you currently are? Could they benefit from your vast people management expertise so that you can coach and support Line Managers in their people dealings? (I see this requirement often in HR job ads)

    Ultimately keep reassuring yourself that you will get the position you want and when you do, your operational management experience will absolutely be a great strength of yours. I have read many an article about HR professionals who say they benefited from having sabbaticals into other areas of the business or that their previous operational backgrounds has really assisted them in their roles.

    The very best of luck – be great to hear about your success when you do get the dream HR role!
  • In reply to Catherine Fleming:

    sorry about the formatting above Megan! hope you can still read it!
  • Thank you Kate and Catherine. I have registered with RHR Kate, but they wanted to speak with me about Retail Management opportunities arghh! I will certainly think about local charity and other work experience in HR departments, its a great idea.

     Catherine, your words were inspirational and I thank you for this. You obviously understand the level of people management and HR experience that an operational manager has to demonstrate. I have not thought about Office Management but I certainly will be looking for these positions now.

    Many people within my company consider me as a great support as I am being asked to provide advice, guidance and help on all types of issues. I have also provided suggestions on company handbook changes, consistent training methods, employment law, competency interviews and reducing staff turnover - all of which have been implemented. However, I get a little frustrated as I do not have the job title to reflect this. I will carry on pursuing my goal, I am sure that someone will want/need me somewhere!    

     Thank you once again ladies, you have both been very helpful


  • No problem Megan.

     Re: recruitment agents. They can be the worst for career changers. I still get invited to apply for  general manager  opportunities despite being clear that I no longer want this type of role! As soon as I tell them I'm pursuing HR, they quickly go quiet. This too can even be disheartening at times. 

    I've recently had a bit more 'bite' from employers who have seen my cv on job boards. Do try the HR/Office Manager route. My theory is to just get a foot in the door and take it from there but this is as long as the business is open to HR and that the scope for HR is large enough for me to add the key experience to my CV

    Add all that good HR type  that you are doing onto your CV.  It sounds as though you are great business support however it is packaged up - Downplay the job titles and focus on the outcomes.

     you will get there!  


  • Steve Bridger

    | 7585 Posts

    Community Manager

    3 Feb, 2015 15:41

    In reply to Catherine Fleming:

    Fantastic post, Catherine (...and I sorted out the formatting).
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