How to Beat Typecasting in Your Job Search

There's no secret to landing a job in a field that's new to you.

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Suzanne Lucas

I just graduated with my bachelor's in business/HR management and want to work in HR. The basic problem is that I have very little experience in this field.

I keep getting typecast in accounting (most of what I've done in the past four years) but have no desire to go into accounting full-time as a career.

I do plan on getting my MBA starting next year. In the meantime, what can I do? I want a job in HR SOOO badly!!!

I think every career writer gets hit with this question, as if we know a magic word that would suddenly open up previously hidden opportunities. There isn't. (Well, maybe there isn't—you think I'd tell you for free?) You get a job in HR the same way you get a job in another field: You network, you apply, you intern, you volunteer, you take every opportunity you possibly can.

You do have business experience, in accounting. So, use that to your advantage. Try looking for a job in an HR department of an accounting firm. One of the biggest complaints about HR people is that we lack understanding of what the business does. Make your experience a credit on your resume—not a debit.

If you are unemployed at the moment, go to a temporary agency and say, "I will do any job in an HR department, even if it is watering the plants." Frequently, companies will take you on as a temp where they would never hire you as a regular employee. Of course, with the slow economy, you are going to find these jobs more difficult to come by.

If you are employed, see if you can meet with an HR person for some mentoring. Volunteer to be on policy committees. (You'd like to increase everyone's vacation time anyway, right?)

But answer this question first: If you just graduated, why are you going directly into an MBA program? Without some serious experience under your belt, when you're handed that diploma you'll be the highly educated, under-experienced person in your class. Why would a company want to hire you over your classmates? I recommend holding off on that MBA for a few years. If you don't, you may find yourself in a situation where you're no more employable than you are now, but you have additional debt. I realize it may be easier on you to just go through school all at once (or with only a short break in between), but if you want the career, get some experience, and then the MBA.

Suzanne Lucas has nine years of human resources experience, most of which have been in a Fortune 500-company setting. She holds a Professional in Human Resources Certificate from the Society for Human Resource Management. She blogs at Evil HR Lady.