My family loves to ride on "rodelbahns," which are mountain slides that serve as the summer equivalent to winter's bob sledding. Two weekends ago, we found one about two hours from our house. It was a beautiful day in the Alps in southern Switzerland. There were only a couple of other families at this particular course and the ride itself was inexpensive. In the hour we had to play, we could go down the slide as many times as we wanted.
Last weekend we headed to another Alpine adventure. This one billed itself as the longest alpine coaster in the world. It was a fantastic ride. However, the wait to go down was about 1.5 hours and the cost was exorbitant. While the ride itself was a better ride than our cheaper adventure the week before, we decided that we wouldn't be back. We'd much prefer to go to the one that wasn't quite as good, because we got to ride on it as many times as we wanted.
So, what does this have to do with your career?
The question I get asked the most is: "How do I get a job in HR?" But the same question could be asked for any field. People are desperate to break into their chosen field, but unfortunately they are finding long, frustrating waits—and it seems like they will never get to the front of the line.
So, here's a secret: Go for the less popular job.
When you're building your network and searching out companies, look for positions that people are having difficulty filling. Figure out what you need to be able to do, in order to do these jobs. If a position is hard to fill, they may be willing to hire you if you are willing to learn how to do the work, rather than requiring you to already be an expert.
I started in human resources by being a "metrics specialist." I was in charge of the statistical analysis of human resources data for a large company. Truth be told, I don't particularly love doing statistics. But rather than waiting and wailing "I want to do employee relations, not crunch numbers!" I said, "Hey, I can crunch numbers and this will give me the opportunity to learn other aspects of HR as well." It was a really good job. I learned a ton. It wasn't my first choice in jobs, but my first choice wasn't panning out. And it turned out that this job opened up opportunities that I never would have received if I'd gotten a job in a more popular field.
Sometimes the search for a dream job turns into a nightmare. Instead, look for the job no one else wants. Do what it takes to get that job, and then work from there. The ride may not be as thrilling at first, but it's better than standing in line.
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.