Office manager wants a job in personnel

Dear Joan:
After living in Milwaukee all my life, I recently moved to Washington, D.C. My mother sent me your article from the Milwaukee Journal on using appropriate cover letters when sending resumes. I currently have a job as an office manager and want to find a job related more to personnel. I am making $20,500, now but feel I am worth more in salary after my three years here as an office manager. I have some questions:

First, do I need an MBA in personnel to do hiring, counseling, and interviewing in a company's personnel office? How can I move into personnel from my position? I seem to be having a hard time, even though I have been sending resumes for a year.

Are the want ads the best place to look for jobs? How else could one hunt down a job that one wants?

I'd appreciate any advice or help you could give me because I am ambitious and very frustrated working here. I know I can be more challenged in a different job. But how does one find that job?

Before you jump on the MBA wagon, consider your current background and experience.

As an office manager for three years, you probably have hired and fired, counseled and interviewed. Then you had to live with the results. You may be selling yourself short on your resume, cover letters and in interviews.

Your energy should be spent in three areas: Perfecting your job-hunting skills, joining in personnel-oriented professional organizations, and expanding your exposure to personnel responsibilities on your current job.

First, examine your resume. Have you emphasized the personnel functions for which you're responsible? Have you written these responsibilities in the form of accomplishments?

For example:
"Managed 10 administrative assistants, including recruiting, interviewing, hiring and training. Reduced turnover rate from 30% to 0%. Developed two employees to fill exempt positions. Restructured the work flow system to better utilize human resources, resulting in a 7% gain in productivity and improved morale..."

On the top of your resume, include a specific objective. Because you have narrowed the area in personnel in which you're interested, say so. For instance, "Objective; Results-oriented position in employment recruiting."

If you wish to apply for other personnel positions, use multiple resumes and highlight related areas of your experience in the resume and cover letter.

If you are undecided about the area in personnel you would like, apply to smaller companies. These companies have greater need for personnel generalists to perform many different functions. A smaller company would provide a great training ground and would allow you to decide on a specialty if you wish to later move to a bigger company.

An undergraduate degree is probably a requirement, particularly in a large corporation. However, entry-level personnel positions in small- to middle-sized companies may not require one.

Second, join personnel-related professional organizations and list them on your resume.
Joining organizations will expose you in the right network. You will be able to compare your background and experience to that of other members. You will hear of job openings long before they hit the want ads. Finally, be an active member, so your expertise becomes well known in that organization. ASPA (American society of Personnel Administrators) and IAPW (International Association of Personnel Women) are places to start.

In the meantime, don't let your current job slide. On the contrary, ask for and develop every opportunity to get more personnel responsibility. Volunteer to work on a problem in the benefits or training areas, for example. This approach may even create a personnel job for you in your own company.

Use your ambition to reach out in all these areas and above all, don't give up until your tenacity pays off. 

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616,, or 
About Joan Lloyd
Joan Lloyd & Associates provide
FREE subscription to receive Joan's article by email

Email Joan to submit your question for consideration for publication, request permission to reprint an article for distribution, or for information about carrying Joan Lloyd's weekly column in your publication, or on your Internet or Intranet site. Visit to search an archive of more than 1700 of Joan's articles.
© Joan Lloyd & Associates, Inc.