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Career Advice: How To Change Your Job Function

Johanna Herbst

Jun 2, 2022

I invite my community to send me leadership and career questions. Dominique did so, and I bet many of you can relate to the question of whether to move into a new job function.

Dear Coach Hanna,

I have been working in accounting for about ten years and want to move into HR as I feel very passionate about people. I also think this would suit me better. My HR experience is rather limited; I interviewed a few people for accounting roles and took an online course but never worked in an HR role. Now, I wonder if I am just a dreamer. On top of that, I cannot afford to start with the lowest entry position as I have kids and a mortgage. Should I just let it go?

Hi Dominique,

Thanks so much for sharing and being open about your fears. First of all, I need to applaud you for being a dreamer! Isn’t it wonderful to have dreams? If I granted you one free wish, what would you wish for? I believe there is only one way to find out whether dreams can come true. To quote Nike “Just do it!”.

I am jumping ahead of myself. Let me sum up what I have heard: you are a seasoned accounting professional and don’t want to continue down that career path. Instead, you want to move into HR and worry whether it’s even feasible. If not, you would rather stay in accounting. Is that right?

I believe in dreams and the power of passion. I also sense a purpose here, "feeling passionate about people”. What about it is important to you? Does it matter who those people are, and what they do? Is it important where and when they do it, and why they do it? Understanding what drives you is important to get insights into your motivation and your ideal next role. Please take the time and answer the above questions.

When you think about your next role in HR, what’s coming to mind? What would you be doing day in and day out? Imagine a Monday morning, Wednesday lunchtime, or a Friday afternoon. No formalities, just scribble down what comes to mind and focus on the actual action. This will be another piece helping us move forward in your journey.

By the way, I hear your internal critics loud and clear in your message! “You don’t have a chance!” , “you are not good enough”, “don’t even bother”. How are you holding up with that noise? And yes, most of it is just noise, nothing else. Our self-doubts become the loudest when change becomes a possibility and then they scream so loud to stop you from your path of transformation. Why? Because they want to protect you. It’s not yet clear what’s awaiting you on the other side. If you don’t change, there won’t be any disruption. Funny that your inner critics come from a place of protection, isn’t it?

Back to your doubts, they typically take one piece of truth and then twist and distort it and turn it into a big argument and oftentimes even become quite mean. A piece of truth would be that you only have limited direct HR experience and didn’t get a related master's degree. What your doubts are forgetting though is that you bring lots of transferable skills, relevant experiences, and passion!

  • Transferable skills could include analytical skills, communication skills, or teamwork.

  • Relevant experience could include leading a project, working cross-functionally, or onboarding a new employee.

  • Passion, is there more to say? It links back to your motivation and purpose and will allow you to move mountains.

The detailed skills and experiences depend on the role you want to apply for. Either way, I believe you got a lot to offer. Once you know which role you want to go after, we can brainstorm relevant skills and experiences for that role.

You can probably already sense my answer to your last question. Don’t just let it go! Striving for a purpose and making your time worthwhile is wonderful! If you let it go, would you regret it in 5 years?

In my point of view, it’s time to get to work. Get clarity on what you want to do next and do all related homework. Please send me a message once completed. And by the way, I wouldn’t worry too much about the level. If you’ve been a team leader, why shouldn’t you be one in a different function?

To sum it up, Dominique, I hope you feel encouraged to move ahead with your dream. Doing a job with purpose is inspiring and a source of motivation. Also, you don’t need to do it alone. I am happy to support you in your journey from identifying your dream job, positioning yourself, and networking to interviewing. Good luck!

What is the leadership or career question on your mind that you would like me to answer? Just shoot me an email at or visit my website and I am happy to answer it next time.

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