I’ve had a wild ride this weekend. A few weeks ago my sister-in-law passed me the Hunger Games series. I’m a big fiction and science fiction nut, but other things (see below) have kept me busy ever since she passed them over. I started the first book on Saturday and just finished it last night. I was trying to avoid being caught up in the public hype, but I truly enjoyed the book. About to start the second book, and I’m wondering if it can live up to the high standards set by the first…

The real news

On a more important note, after several months of research, development, testing, shooting videos, and working with my superstar beta tester group, the Entry Level HR course is finally open to the public.

The video below will answer most of your questions (click through if you’re an email subscriber), and for those it does not, you can check out this page for more info.

I’m taking a breather today, so this will be a historically short post. Check back tomorrow for more HR/talent management goodness!

I’m pretty sure that passion isn’t one of the HR job qualifications that people look for, otherwise we wouldn’t have need for the other posts in this series. If you missed them, we talked about:

HR job qualificationsSo what are HR job qualifications and how can you get them?

I think there are three big “must haves” to set someone up for success, whether in HR or not.

The three key HR job qualifications

  • Developing solid work habits around your strengths
  • Establishing credibility through solid, dependable performance
  • Taking control of your own personal and professional development

Think about the best leaders, managers, and employees you’ve ever met. Chances are they fulfilled at least one, if not all three, of these items. Again, they aren’t solely HR job qualifications, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t important.

Let’s look at each and how they can feed into your career success.

Developing work habits

Thousands of articles are created every single day focusing on topics like leadership and how to lead others. Yet so many of us are lacking the critical skills and knowledge to lead ourselves. Taking the time to learn your own strengths and weaknesses and how to leverage them into career success should be the very first step in a long, but very rewarding, journey.

Learn what you do well and make it your goal to do as much of that as possible.

Establishing credibility

Once you have a foundation of skills that you can use, it’s time to “get credible.” I personally measure credibility in a few ways, but the key one for me is how often people come to me for advice or information on a topic. Everyone can be a credible expert in their topic given enough time, but most of us need a measure of credibility today, not in weeks/months/years.

I believe it’s possible to develop credibility rapidly and with relatively little effort if you harness the strengths you have and find high-value opportunities to apply them regularly.

Professional development

You can stop learning when you’re dead. Until then, every day is an opportunity to learn, grow, and do new things. If you’re fighting for a new job or a promotion, and you have very similar qualifications to the other candidate, then a strong slate of professional development activities can help to set you apart from the crowd.

Every day is a learning opportunity, and if you don’t seek out ways to continuously improve yourself, you’ll be left behind.

So, what do you think of these HR job qualifications? Would these characteristics make someone more appealing for an HR role? As someone who works with a lot of young (and new) HR pros, I think so.

Digging deeper

HR job qualificationsI have developed a video course to help entry level HR pros find and get their first job and then knock it out of the park. If you are an entry level HR pro or someone looking to get their first HR job, I highly encourage you to check it out!

The course is made up of over an hour of video content, several bonus eBooks, and weekly articles and assignments to help the training “stick” for the long term. These skills will carry you through your entire career; you just need to take the time to learn them!

The only people who seem to know about getting entry level HR positions are those who already have an entry level HR job.

It’s a crappy system, and it needs to change.

As I said yesterday, we have to stop setting people up to fail. We need to help the next generation understand what it will take to break into HR and getting entry level HR positions. College isn’t preparing them. For the most part, parents aren’t preparing them.

Who will take up the call and join me?

Today I’m going to teach the newbies in the audience about entry level HR positions. Everything I know is based on my own experience over the past few years, both my own and helping others with getting entry level HR positions. In the short video below I share some basic ideas that have helped me immensely any time I had to look for a job change within my HR career. The three keys?

  • Networking
  • Professional Development
  • “Doing HR” wherever you are

Video: Entry Level HR Positions

Click here to view the video on YouTube.

Digging deeper

getting entry level HR positionsI have developed a video course to help entry level HR pros find and get their first entry level HR positions and then knock them out of the park. If you are an entry level HR pro or someone looking to get their first HR job, I highly encourage you to check it out!

The course is made up of over an hour of video content, several bonus eBooks, and weekly articles and assignments to help the training “stick” for the long term. These skills will carry you through your entire career; you just need to take the time to learn them!

It’s easy to learn how to get a job in HR, but it isn’t necessarily easy to do it!

Tomorrow night I’m going to talk with some local HR students about what “real” HR is like outside of the classroom and the textbook. We’re going to discuss what the actual workload is like for an entry level HR professional. Even though it is routine for me, it’s like a secret formula to these students.

And it has to stop. 

It’s been going on forever

I went to college purposely to get my degree in HR. I knew that’s what I wanted to do, and I worked my tail off to learn everything I could. And yet, when I got into my first HR job, I found out that 80% of what I needed to know about HR had never even been explained.

One of my earliest blog posts in my career (I’m not linking here because the writing style back then embarrasses me a bit) was on this topic, and I’m amazed that in the years since I graduated, not a single thing has changed for many students.

I receive emails on a weekly basis from a variety of people, and all of them are reading from the same script. “I got my degree and now I’m trying to get into HR, but all the entry level jobs require HR experience. How am I supposed to get in?”

You know it’s true. I know it’s true. And yet, here we sit. Some of you already have your job and have forgotten about those who walk the same path you once did. They still need you (and me) to offer advice and inspiration.

Let’s set them up for success, not failure.

What we can do about it

This year one of my personal goals at work is to evaluate and test an intern program. I recently learned of another local company with a wildly successful HR internship program, and I wanted to get some pointers from them but their HR person just left. If you’ve done this before and have ideas to share, please feel free to email me.

The interns coming out of the program rave about the experience, and this thing was set up as an unpaid internship, so you know the experience had to be powerful and valuable to receive that kind of feedback.

Look for opportunities to do exactly what I’m doing tomorrow. Contact your local university or community college and see if you can stop by and talk with a class or some students after school about what we do and why it is a great career.

HR-we need some PR

Look at the stereotypical “bring your dad to work” elementary school program. You have the “cool” ones–firefighters, police officers, etc. Then you have the “blah” ones in suits. If you can’t explain what you do to a third grade child maybe you need to stop and figure out what the heck it is you do! By the way, I’ve had to talk with my wife’s third grade class dozens of times, and I’ve tweaked my response to “I help recruit great people to come and do work that they love. We make games that teach helicopter pilots how to fly.” That’s pretty darn cool for the kids to hear, and it opens the door for me to explain at a high level what I get to do on a daily basis.

I know we’re talking about college students, not elementary school kids, but the idea is the same.

I once heard an HR “professional” tell a group of college students that “HR was a terrible career choice” and that they should “start over and pick accounting, finance, or anything but HR.” Yeah, that guy needs to quit his job, go home, and shut up. This is an amazing profession; I just think we need better marketing/PR.

This week/month/year, look for opportunities to influence the next generation. Even if 99% of the kids you talk to end up going into another profession (and statistically, that’s probably a good estimate), they still have a positive connection with HR lodged in their brains. It can’t hurt, right?

Digging deeper

Entry level HR CourseI have developed a video course to help entry level HR pros find and get their first job and then knock it out of the park. If you are an entry level HR pro or someone looking to get their first HR job, I highly encourage you to check it out!

The course is made up of over an hour of video content, several bonus eBooks, and weekly articles and assignments to help the training “stick” for the long term. These skills will carry you through your entire career; you just need to take the time to learn them!

next generation of hrTomorrow evening I have the pleasure of speaking to a group of local HR students. The problem is I have time to talk on one topic, but I have several in mind! In a perfect world I’d have the chance to come back a few times and expose them to the full realm of knowledge I’ve picked up over the past few years since my own college days, but this might be the only shot I get. So what’s more important?

Topics of choice

  1. Using social media as an HR/recruiting professional (professional development, recruiting, networking, etc.) Continue reading

Welcome to the Entry Level HR Jobs Ultimate Guide! Feel free to share this post on Facebook, Twitter, via email, or by renting a plane to carry a banner proclaiming how much you love this guide. If you’re not already on the email list to receive free updates, here’s how you can do that. Now, let’s get on to the content!

Entry Level HR Jobs

  1. Places to find jobs
  2. Job descriptions
  3. Salary Ranges
  4. Tips from the Pros
  5. Career Resources Continue reading

I love getting questions about what it’s like getting a job in HR. Today I’m giving C a hand with her questions (answering a little late, but better than never!).

As a generalist, what exactly is your job like? What kind of projects do you work on, etc?

Every day is fairly different in my role, though a generalist at a larger company might not be able to say that. For instance, in recent weeks I’ve worked on collecting and analyzing company-wide performance reviews, drafted open enrollment communications describing our changes to benefits and premiums, worked with one of our admins to develop an activity for our executive retreat, and worked with our managers to develop goals for their employees for the coming year. In the coming weeks I’m working to create our affirmative action plan, develop job descriptions for our employees, and evaluate a new benefits vendor. It truly is a little bit of everything!

The thing that intrigues me most about HR is the potential to help people and help turn the work environment and experience in general into something more enjoyable for and considerate of today’s workers. After seeing how HR seems to be transforming due to web-workers and companies like Zappos, it almost seems like HR is the frontline for effecting change in labor relations. 

How much of this is actually true? How much of your job (or any HR position for that matter) actually deals with actual employees or things that directly affect them and in what ways? How much influence do you have on your employees and their work environment as an HR person? 

Great question! Just like Zappos, we do a lot of culture building and sharing, and it’s really helped us to develop a strong, unified workforce. One of the barriers is the level of respect that HR gets in the business, though. In previous employers HR was expected to be a quiet, back corner admin function. And that’s all it was. At my current employer the HR function is involved in planning and strategy meetings at all levels.

In my job, I deal with employees on a daily basis. However, that’s not the norm. As a small company I have the opportunity to have a high-touch relationship with our employees. That means they get more individual value out of me, but it also means that it doesn’t scale. In other words, as we add employees, we’ll have to add more to the HR team or reduce the hands on interaction.

I have a bachelor’s in business administration and most of my experience is in customer service, product support, and some IT roles (about 8 years of customer service experience). In your opinion, how are these skills relevant to the career?

The degree is a good one. It might not give you the deep background an HR degree would, but it does give you better awareness of the other business functions and how HR ties into those.

I would say that customer service experience translates well to an entry t0 mid level HR role. The higher you go the less interaction you have with people directly, but at those lower levels you do more face-to-face interaction with managers and staff. One of the interesting things about the HR profession is that we have people from every conceivable type of background.

If you are working in a company that specializes in IT services, to use your example, being an HR person there would mean you understand what the employees’ jobs are like and how you can best help them to be successful. At my current employer, I had very little experience in the industry, but I obviously like writing, so I was given the Communications hat as well as the HR/recruiting one. It’s a great way they have decided to utilize my skills and interests to make the organization better.

Working off of the last question, should I be focused on completing a certification asap? If so, how should I prepare for the exam considering I don’t have experience in HR?

In order to get certified (PHR/SPHR), you now have to have several years of exempt level HR experience to take the exam. It’s not a huge bump up in terms of marketability as a candidate, even if you could get it, since you don’t really have experience. I’d focus instead on using your general business education to increase the value of the HR function.

I am in the process of starting a family. I have read salary surveys and such but what is the income potential really like in HR?

Honestly, it’s different everywhere. Here in Huntsville (which is one tiny market among thousands in the US and worldwide) an HR assistant can make from $20-30k, HR generalists 30-70k, HR directors/managers from 50-100k+, depending on experience level and industry. It varies wildly and depends on the value you are bringing the business.

A good company will look at how you are increasing their profitability or reducing costs and work hard to compensate you accordingly. Someone who files papers 8 hours a day is going to be less valuable than someone developing and rolling out a new pay for performance compensation strategy.

Are there any resources out there about LGBT representation within the career? I looked around but was pretty unsuccessful in finding anything substantial.

I am actually good friends with a few individuals who fall into that category. I am not sure if they are comfortable with me shouting it from this platform, but they certainly do exist. I would say HR people in general are more tolerant of other beliefs (we see too many not to be!). If you want more information on this specifically I can put you in touch with one of them since I have no personal experience with this issue.

And there you have it, C! I hope that helps and that you are still interested after that exposure. :-) Good luck!
If anyone else has questions they’d like to ask, feel free to email me at ben@upstarthr.com. Thanks!