Angie Howard Versique

What I Learned During My Career Transition and My Advice to Those Changing Careers

by Angie Howard

The economic impact of COVID-19 on hospitality (one of the first industries to get slammed by the pandemic) is told only in astronomical numbers. According to economicmodeling.com (April 29, 2020), every day the hospitality industry is shut down, it loses 12,535 jobs and $534,089,976 in Earnings. 

In 2020, I was working for an organization whose customers included restaurants, food service, and entertainment venues. When business slowed down and, in many cases, shut down, the impact was beyond financial. Many of our clients were forced to make very difficult decisions which impacted many employees losing their jobs. 

As an HR professional, I have partnered with business leaders for years on difficult reorganizations and reductions in the workforces of several companies. It’s never been an easy process, but it is often a necessary business decision that can be handled with dignity and grace.

How COVID-19 Affected My Professional Career

In August 2020, I found myself at the other end of the conversation for the first time in my career. I was informed that my position was being eliminated due to a reorganization effective September 1, 2020. 

I was in shock. I was emotional. I cried for a week. I felt a significant sense of loss. I questioned my abilities and competence. I was shaken to my core. My confidence was shot.  

I thought, Now what? How do I move forward?

As I navigated my new situation, “in transition,” I first had to grieve the loss of my role and team that I loved. I reminded myself frequently to have patience and allow myself some time to process, reflect, and move forward.

I re-engaged with my amazing network of colleagues, managers, and friends who guided, listened, and supported me in many ways. It was so amazing to reconnect with my friends and get updates on their careers. Despite having a busy schedule of their own, everyone I reached out to was selfless with their time and wanted to help in any way they could.

I felt like I was at a crossroads in my career. I was burned out from over 18 years in HR. Even though I wasn’t 100% sure what my next move should be, I knew I wanted to leverage my years of HR experience. I was exploring a variety of positions with several wonderful organizations in the Twin Cities as an HR Business Partner. I was even considering a transition into HR contract consulting when a tremendous opportunity presented itself.

My Transition Into a New Industry 

Connections can make incredible things possible. In a job market, connections are everything. A friend and former colleague of mine was working at Versique. She’d been so supportive during my career transition and connected me to many of the great people on the Versique team. And then, I saw a LinkedIn post for a new internal opening on the team.  

I texted my friend right away, asking, “Can I do that job?”  

I had never been a Recruiter before. During my years in HR, I had partnered with my employer’s Talent Acquisition teams and had been involved in hiring talent with hiring managers, but never as a Recruiter. It wasn’t long before I formally pursued this new opportunity, interviewed with various leaders, and learned all I could about the agency world and Versique.  

As it turned out, my HR experience was exactly what they were looking for – someone who understands the challenges of HR, and had experience supporting businesses with their talent strategy to achieve their business objectives. In one of my interviews with Chris Dardis (President of Interim Consulting), Chris talked about his career keys and his journey that brought him to Versique. That got me thinking about my own keys and the most important aspects of a position that would get me excited and truly engaged in my next role:  

  1. An opportunity to leverage my HR experience in a positive and meaningful way 
  2. An organization with values that aligned with my own  
  3. Supportive leadership 
  4. A collaborative team

Interviewing for the cultural elements that we often seek can be challenging, but it was apparent to me through all my discussions that this team was real. I feel fortunate for the opportunity to be part of the Versique team. Here I meet incredible HR talent daily and help to find great opportunities within amazing organizations where they can also make an impact every day!

My 5 Pieces of Advice When Changing Careers

1. Give Yourself Grace  

Be patient as you go through the journey of finding your next great role. Focus on the positives and find the opportunity to learn in every interview. Focus on what you learned from your previous experiences, the challenges you have overcome, and the connections you’ve made.

2. Re-engage Your Network 

At first, I felt guilty reaching out to past colleagues and friends. I felt terrible that I hadn’t done a better job staying connected with them, but everyone I talked to was so supportive, provided encouragement, advice, and additional connections. The power of my network did so much to re-build my confidence and help me find great opportunities.

3. Identify Your Keys

What are the 3-4 most critical keys you need to feel fulfilled in your next role? Write them down and review them often as you explore new opportunities or evaluate your current position.

4. Be Open to New Opportunities

Get creative and challenge yourself to consider new roles, industries, and experiences.  Expanding your realm of possibilities can open up avenues for growth you might not have considered before!

5. Create Your Personal Brand Statement

I recently worked with a leadership coach who challenged me to create my personal brand statement. Here it is:

  • I am passionate about helping individuals to develop a career that meets their full potential and aspirations.  
  • I will achieve this through my approach of developing trusting relationships with open and transparent communication.  
  • I strive to be genuine, set clear expectations for success, and share feedback to facilitate growth.  
  • I am a continuous learner and will leverage the strengths of the team around me to continue to be my best self as a wife, mother, daughter, leader, colleague, and friend.

I encourage you to take some time to develop your own personal brand statement as well. It helped me clarify my purpose and my “why,” and I’m confident that it will help you as well.

Challenges or Opportunities?

I am extremely grateful for all the experiences and opportunities of my career. I have been mentored by many amazing leaders and worked alongside many HR professionals who are now some of my closest colleagues. Additionally, every company and role I have been in has provided me with opportunities to grow and develop new skills. 

While challenging, the experience of losing my job has made me better at my job today. I can connect with my candidates in a way I never would have been able to had I not experienced first-hand what it’s like to be impacted by a reduction in force. 

I’m blessed to leverage my HR experience, partner with HR professionals every day, and help them find meaningful opportunities. If I can be of service to you, please reach out! My email is ahoward@versique.com.

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