Stepping back down to get back in

Some recent advice of mine in relation to the above was not personally or professionally recommended here, and that its best to try and hold out longer to get back in on your true level in HR. As an example, an HRBP should not go for a role as an HR Assistant, even if they have been out of the market and with a gap in experience and working history for a certain period of time 

However, in life reality also always has a habit of biting and although all of our circumstances and situations are unique:

What happens if you don't have any money on you to stock the fridge, pay the bills, cover the mortgage / rent, pay the school fees, run the car, yet you still can't immediately get back in or an HR job on your level, as your savings may have already been exhausted in a lengthy and protracted job search that led absolutely nowhere.     

We are fortunate in the UK have we have a social security system and one can always go to attend and sign on at JobCentre Plus for Jobseekers Allowance, but that is only £75.00 a week and one could get at least £100 a day even in a lower level HR role.

Thus, the point I am making here is that in my view, it's still always far better to have 'a job' than 'no job' starting from the point of view of getting you out of the house each day to meet and circulate with other people, and have a sense of purpose, identity and self esteem, even if it's just analysing HR data.     

However, for the people who advocate holing out indefinitely, I wish to ask them one key question here: where is or does the money come from to do that? Similarly, the gap in experience also grows even wider. 

Money does not grow on trees, one may not be immediately bankrolled or supported by a family, friends, spouse or organisation behind them, and interim roles often do not provide the continuous income stability if you need say £1,500 minuum every month over the next 12 months to cover your monthly outgoings or pay your mortgage.     

Finally, the age old saying here also rings true that 'it's far easier to get a job if you are already in a job.' 

Any views, thoughts or comments?


  • Hi Andre

    I spent time outside HR and had to drop a level to get back in. I took an HR Administrator job and was later promoted by that employer? There are quite a few threads on here where a number of contributors have advised people trying to transition into HR from another field that they will need to do so at a more junior level than they have achieved in their first profession. That is not the same as your question about coming back after a gap, but it seems to me analogous.

    As you say, we all have to pay the bills and it is easier to get a job when you are already employed.
  • One of the challenges people have is developing a compelling narrative that explains their journey. ( we have discussed this on several of your previous posts)

    The challenge with a big step down (2+ steps) is both explaining this and also persuading someone to take you in at this level ( as they will suspect you only want it short term - see multiple “ I am told I am over qualified “ threads).

    For me that means that whilst always an option it is less a realistic one than a very simplistic analysts suggests.
  • Hi Andre

    I believe you may be referring to my response to another post, where I said I may disagree with the advice you had given to someone wanting to return about stepping down.

    As I hoped I'd made clear, my comment was I 'may' disagree that it was the best thing to do. Firstly, as Keith has outlined, it can be difficult to persuade a prospective employer that you are genuinely interested in the role, rather than just looking for a 'way in' and secondly, if you have worked at a more senior level previously, would the role really be interesting for you.

    In that context it was for someone who was in a non HR job, looking to return to HR after a period of absence. And the suggestion was maybe that looking at a temporary role at a more senior level might provide an alternative way back in, as it did for me when I was made redundant. I also said it might depend on the company and, of course, the context.

    I have certainly never advised holding out indefinitely - people do need to work and there is nothing wrong with taking a suitable role at any level in order to do that.