Someone recently reached out to me about young professional events for SHRM chapters. A few years back I was tagged to be the Chair for the SHRM HR Young Professional Advisory Council, and I had a great time working with the rest of the YP team trying to find out ways to help chapters engage their young professional members.

By the way, if you are looking for ideas to improve your chapter (whether it’s SHRM, ASTD, etc.), here’s a great resource I pulled together a while back: Rock Your Chapter.

Here are six ideas I’ve picked up that chapter leaders can use to improve their offerings for young professionals.

Ideas for young professional events

  1. First, know what your goal is with these young professional events. Do you want to increase membership for the young professionals? Do you want to increase engagement for existing YPs? Do you want something else? Be clear on that before you start.
  2. Look for non-confrontational events/spaces to start with. Remember, these guys, for the most part, are not veterans with 10 years of experience. They’re brand new HR professionals, and the more laid-back you can make it, the better. Maybe that’s my introverted side speaking up, but it can’t hurt to be very flexible and informal, at least to get started.
  3. Target the members of your local chapter with young professionals working for them. A large number of companies have young professionals in their ranks. You should encourage their managers and leaders to allow the YPs to visit your young professional events in order to make them a more valuable employees.
  4. Offer programming for young professionals. In the research I have conducted over the past few years, it turns out that this group of HR pros wants pretty much the same types of content as someone who has been in the field for 10 years. They just need the basic foundation in each area first to feel competent enough to starting building a career on that knowledge.
  5. Using social media isn’t a necessity, but it won’t hurt, either. I’d recommend a LinkedIn group or a Facebook group. Make it private where members can ask questions in a “safe” zone without fear of looking silly or risking any credibility. If you can get some interaction on these platforms, it can go a long way toward building a sense of community for all participants.
  6. Take a look at the young professional guide. It’s free, and it shows how you can focus on the three key areas that young HR professionals want to know about (based on some research I conducted several years ago). In case you are wondering, those three areas include:
    1. How to establish credibility
    2. How to find meaningful work
    3. How to make a career path

If your chapter does anything in the way of young professional events, I’d love to hear about them. Feel free to drop a comment below.

Thanks to Michael for prompting me to write this. It took me a little time, but I hope it was worthwhile!

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Entry Level HR Jobs

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As a manager, it\’s important to create an environment in which all of your employees can thrive. You should strive to develop employees that are positive and proactive—from day one. For your young professionals, the most coddled generation in our nation\’s history, it can often be tricky to dance in the uncomfortable and very necessary space between walking on egg shells to avoid uncomfortable situations and instigating unnecessary conflict.

Here are a few ways you can work with your youngest employees to help them adopt and sustain a possibility-centered mindset so that they—and the rest of your employees—can do their best work.

Reframe Conflict

Let your young professionals know first and foremost that conflict is normal and that when it emerges, it\’s important to address it quickly. For the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors we usually associate with conflict often occur more when we are thinking about the possibility of conflict than when we are actually acknowledging and moving through it. Show your young professionals how to separate fact from fiction in the stories they create about the situations they find themselves in. Help them to give other people the necessary space to speak their perspective without getting defensive. And most importantly, help them develop the skills to focus on how to move forward with others in mutually-beneficial ways rather than rehashing old grievances.

Bring in Some Old-fashioned Forgiveness

When conflict occurs, it\’s important to keep your young professionals moving forward. The only way to do this is if they forgive all parties involved in previous problems—most of all themselves. Encourage them to see forgiveness as the act of unhooking from the story they created about themselves and the other people involved in the problem. Forgiveness is as much a choice as a practice. In addition to letting young professionals see the many health and performance benefits of letting go and moving on, help them to stay in the forgiveness zone by focusing on how they want to feel when they have forgiven…once and for all. Encourage them to recreate this feeling in their bodies until it eventually sticks and their dress rehearsal becomes their final performance.

Kill Fear Mongering

No employees work well when they live in fear. While you may think it\’s benign or perhaps even a good thing for a young professional to believe that a missed deadline could be grounds for termination, fear is a lousy motivator and it makes a really great performance killer. If young professionals direct focus toward speed at the expense of turning out a high-quality product, you might be training them to make underperformance acceptable and habitual. Let them know that you are there for them when they are having issues with an assignment, and encourage proactive, transparent conversations so that you can co-create solutions.

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Alexia Vernon is an author, speaker, International Coach Federation (ICF) certified coach, trainer, and media personality who specializes in helping organizations recruit, retain, educate, and grow their young professional workforce. In her book 90 Days 90 Ways: Onboard Young Professionals to Peak Performance, Alexia demonstrates how to achieve the goal of getting new employees oriented, integrated and trained within 90 days of their employment. As a member of Gen Y and with her unique approach to talent development, Alexia has been featured in hundreds of media outlets including CNN, NBC, Wall Street Journal, CBS MoneyWatch, FOX Business News, Forbes.com, ABCNews.com, TheGlassDoor.com, and Mint.com.  To learn more visit www.AlexiaVernon.com and connect with Alexia on Twitter @AlexiaVernon.

Recently Jason sent me an email about being in HR (entry level HR, to be specific). He gave me permission to post his comments and my responses below.

I actually stumbled upon your blog/site while searching for tips on how to land an entry-level HR position.

I am in the same boat as you (were) — currently in an HR position (internship) and dying to have more responsibility. I have applied for numerous HR positions, from small companies to large corporations. I am having the hardest time landing a full-time permanent job!

A little about myself, I graduated with my BBA in May of 2010. I then continued on to get my Master’s in HR (will be graduating this December!). Since Jan. 2010, I have held 4 HR internships… almost 2 years in the HR profession. Although, I feel that many employers do not consider this to be “2 years of professional experience”, as it is not 2 years of full-time and/or progressive experience.

May I ask, are you currently in the same HR Generalist position that you mentioned in your blog about a year ago? If so, how are things going? Is it what you expected it to be? Have you developed an interest in any particular area of HR now that you have had taste of all the areas?

I’m so stoked to have found someone in a similar position, a guy too! I’ve noticed that HR is a female dominated profession… what are your thoughts on this?

Hey, Jason! Thanks for reaching out.

First off, good for you in seeking to find ways to move up and gain more responsibility. Some people are content with never having responsibility at work (it’s safer, but less adventurous!).

Converting an internship to a job

It sounds like you have the education part down without a hitch, so let’s look at your work experience. Of those 4 HR internships, why did they end? I’m assuming your work is of good quality, because being able to take it further than a short term internship hinges on that detail. If I was in your shoes I would be talking with the company a month before the internship is over and looking for ways to make it a permanent/full time position. Bring some ideas for how to make the HR department better/smarter/faster. Show how they would benefit from bringing you on full time; don’t just make it about you needing a job, because that will get you nowhere.

We had an intern work for us this summer, and before she went back to school she asked how she could continue to work with us and support us remotely. We were able to let her complete some routine reporting tasks and she maintains a relationship with the company as she gets closer to graduation. Very smart move on her part.

If I looked at your resume, I would consider the HR internships to be “professional experience” unless something else on there indicated it was not. Some companies still waste/misuse their interns and use them as coffee carriers, but others actually give them challenging work that stretches their abilities for the duration of the internship. I haven’t seen your resume, but if you are including details about the work you’ve accomplished in the internship experiences, then that will give the employers the impression of professional or not.

My story

My current position as an HR Generalist was a slow (to me, at least) growth. I started as an HR assistant for another company a few years back. Last November, I came on with my current employer Pinnacle Solutions as an HR Specialist. Since then I’ve done everything from benefits to recruiting to employee relations and beyond, so my title was changed this summer to HR Generalist to better reflect my actual work duties.

My situation is somewhat unique in that I work for a small, growing company. I absolutely love where I work and what I do, and the professional (and personal) growth I’ve experienced in the past 10 months is astounding to me. When someone is in your position, it sometimes feels like you will never move up in HR. Then something happens (often unexpectedly) that sends your career through the roof. Looking back now if I would have had this job last year at this time, I would have been pulling my hair out. See, I have twin girls and they were about a month old at this time last year, so that would have been nuts. However, once things settled down at home, I found the perfect job for me. Sometimes frustrations can be blessings in disguise.

My (HR) likes and dislikes

This might surprise you, but I don’t particularly enjoy talking to new people face to face. I’m pretty darn shy. But, surprisingly, I have enjoyed recruiting and communications as my two favorite HR roles. Now, some would argue that neither of those is “real” HR, but since I’m at a small organization I handle everything in the recruiting process from the manager opening a requisition through to the orientation and onboarding process. Throughout that entire experience I communicate our corporate culture for new hires and help them to have a foundation for success from their first day on the job.

I’m not a fan of benefits administration, compliance tasks, or anything that requires hands-on administrative type work. I want to be engaging with staff, managers, and the senior leadership, not completing a form. However, since I’m at a small organization, I get to do each of those things as well as the fun stuff. It balances out. :-)

Tell the guys, we’re taking back HR

As for HR being a female-dominated field, I’d like to see some current statistics on that compared with the HR population a few years back. I’d like to think that more men are getting into it, but I can’t back that up at this time. It’s definitely an interesting phenomenon and I’d love to discuss more if someone has research to share. A good post I can recommend on this is one I wrote last year around this time called “Men in HR-A National Geographic Exclusive.” It starts off funny but has some great tips and pointers for a young guy getting started in the profession. If you’re a young lady getting started in HR, it wouldn’t hurt to check it out either!

Again, I appreciate you reaching out, Jason! I hope this answers your questions in a valuable way. If anyone else has questions or suggestions for post topics, please feel free to let me know!

I’ve been beating myself up about not posting as frequently here lately, but it’s for good reason(s). Really. Here is the full slate I’ve been working on these days, just in case you are interested. And if I’m slow to respond to an email or a phone call, now you know why!

HRevolution

I’ve been doing some work on HRevolution lately, getting neat stuff posted like speaker interviews and sponsor info. I figure posting here will slow somewhat until May gets here, but I just wanted to set expectations early. :-) By the way, if you want to go there are 8 tickets left at the time this is published. Snag one if you want to attend an event like no other.

The day job

People still ask me about my job that I started back in November. The most common question is, “Do you still like your job?” And my answer is a resounding yes(!). I get to do fun stuff and get paid for it. What kind of fun stuff? Well, lately I’ve been working two big recruiting initiatives to bring in helicopter pilots and survival instructors. How cool is that?

When I’m not working on that kind of effort, I’m developing training for managers, handling our benefits, and creating systems and processes to help us prepare for some growth we are planning for later this year.

I have an amazing manager, the culture is fantastic, and the free Diet Dew in the fridge doesn’t hurt. Plus I get to interact with our CEO, Mike Durant, on a regular basis. Hard to get that kind of access to senior leaders in other companies. One of my friends has this offer to come work for another company locally for about $10k more than what I’m making now. I told him if I ever started hating my job I’d be there in a heartbeat, but it doesn’t look promising. :-)

RocketHR

If you aren’t reading RocketHR, you should! I post there about once a week and most of the time it’s new, unique content. Click here to get it delivered to you. A few recent posts include reasons why you should read blogs, the SHRM blog carnival, and a video about really being ethical.

NASHRM

In my spare spare time, I also am the Social Media Director for my local Society for Human Resources Management chapter. Not only do I write the RocketHR blog, but I’ve made myself available to anyone and everyone locally who is looking for information or advice on getting involved with social media. It’s so much fun helping someone make the leap from “interested” to “practitioner.”

Project Social

If you’ve been following Project:Social for long, you know it’s a social media mentoring program for HR pros. We are in our second round of the program and are looking to get the third one started soon. Some people have asked why Victorio and I haven’t had more people in the program, but as you can see with other things I am working on, it is definitely a challenge to devote time to this and if you don’t have a good experience, then it wasn’t worth it anyway. We are looking at ways to scale the program to have more mentor and mentee pairs working at the same time.

SHRM YP Council

I’m about halfway into my term as the SHRM YP Council Chairman, and it’s been interesting so far. We are creating a guide that will be used to help young professionals get more involved with their local chapters. It also has some great tips and advice for volunteer leaders to help them connect with those individuals. I’m definitely glad that I am in the group!

On the home front

Don’t know that you specifically care, but I thought I’d offer my house up if anyone’s interested in buying. :-) Seriously, we are looking to move now that we’ve outgrown our little place, and if you’ve ever been through the process, you know how much that process takes out of you. We are also having so much fun watching the girls grow up. They are always doing something new and interesting, and I’m doing what I can to keep up! A few pics: Bree (our little puppy), Bree at dinnertime, Bella taking the car for a spin, and both girls first thing in the morning (FYI-Bella on the right, Bree on the left).

And that’s just to get me started. What is everyone else up to these days?

china gorman HRYP comment

I\’ve been working as the chair for the SHRM YP (Young Professional) committee since August of 2010. Chuck Salvetti at SHRM put together a great team of people to work on connecting young professionals to chapters and to the SHRM organization as a whole. At this point we are working on a short guide for chapters to use as a tool for attracting and engaging the young professionals in their area.

My mission

When I first started writing this blog, I wanted to help those people who were in my shoes. They were just getting started in the HR field. They knew that school didn\’t teach them enough to be successful. They were ready for an adventure. While my audience has shifted somewhat over time, I\’m always looking for ways to point back in that direction and offer something of value to someone in that situation. This guide is one of those ways for me to be true to my original vision for upstartHR.

My hopes for this guide

I hope it helps young pros to answer a few of the big, scary questions we all face. I hope it helps more experienced professionals to connect with the people who are looking to them for leadership. I hope it helps chapters see how they can serve young professionals by meeting their needs.

Geeky glee

I was overjoyed to see China Gorman, former COO of SHRM, endorse the guide the other day (see photo above). It really meant a lot to me and I can\’t wait to meet her at HRevolution.

Click here to download or print the free young professional guide.

I’m not sure how many of you knew it, but I have the honor of serving as the chairman for the SHRM YP committee. Not sure what that is? Well, the video below will clue you in. I talk about some of the things the Society for Human Resource Management is doing to target young professionals and a few reasons why it’s a hot button issue for me.

This week is going to be a busy one for me, so I’m considering a full week of videos. I recorded a handful while I was out of town last week, and if I can pull them together, you can listen/watch instead of read this week. Enjoy!

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