After a long and arduous job search, I finally landed my first entry level HR position a while back. And even after earning a degree in HRM and successfully completing the PHR exam, I was still unprepared for what lay ahead. However, I have since realized that my high level of preparation beforehand was extremely helpful in getting me up to speed in my new position. With that in mind, I have determined that there are at least three good ways entry level HR professionals can be more relevant in their new jobs. Success in HR doesn’t have to be limited to the long-time veterans. It is possible to overcome some barriers to entry by developing a reputation for being technologically savvy, networking with other HR professionals online, and having enthusiasm for the HR experience.
3 Tips for Entry Level HR Pros
Technology-The Great Equalizer
When I entered the workforce years ago, I realized that I had an edge on many of my coworkers, because I have always been interested in technology. Tinkering with computers and testing software/hardware led me to have a greater understanding and appreciation for technology, and it also helped me to stand out in the workplace. In my new position, I have already learned how to use the main HRIS software (Sage Abra, for those interested) better than all of my coworkers, and I regularly get questions on how to do certain tasks and functions, even though others have used the software for longer than I have.
My advice for entry level HR professionals is to use technology to your advantage. If you’re unsure of what software you need to be focusing on, or if you don’t have any experience with an HRIS, then focus on the common office software applications like Microsoft Office. Be the go-to guy (or gal) when it comes to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, etc. Learn more about HR technology. It’s the future and all that jazz.
Networking-Learn From the Best
I have met dozens of HR professionals online. The ones I’ve met online are all superstars (okay, not all). I’ve been wondering for a few weeks about how I can propose a new program in the workplace. Instead of re-inventing the wheel, I asked some advice from my HR contacts. Within an hour, I had great explanations and helpful tips from a handful of extremely helpful and knowledgeable HR professionals. In the “old days,” that information would have been learned only through trial-and-error or some other equally difficult process, but I was able to avoid some of the mistakes of others (don’t worry, I’m certain there are plenty of mistakes left for me!).
My advice for entry level HR professionals is to get online and get involved with the HR community. One fantastic lady I met online has been so helpful to me for the past few months. I told her one day that I would love to repay her, and she replied, “You already have! I’ve learned more about the upcoming workforce and how they interact just from being with you, and I would not have learned that if we hadn’t connected.” It’s a give-and-take relationship, and you never know how your interactions will help someone else in the long run. Invest time in your networking efforts, and it will come back to you multiplied!
Enthusiasm-Let’s Do it!
I’m the new HR guy. I freely admit that a good bit of what goes on is still over my head, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care. Every single day/hour contains numerous learning opportunities for me. I get into the details of things, because I want to not only know how things work, but why they work as well. When someone mentions an idea, I immediately jump into the conversation. I have a desire to help our employees grow professionally and personally, and since I am new to the HR world, I don’t see the barriers others do. While it causes me to look silly sometimes when there’s a good explanation, it also provides opportunities when there isn’t one. For instance, if something is done in the workplace simply because “it’s always been that way,” then I have the potential to change something for the better. (I’m currently working on a situation like that, and I hope to share about it soon.)
My advice to entry level HR professionals is to take the initiative. If someone gives you a stack of papers to file, do it quickly, and then see what else there is to do. While a good part of my time is spent performing administrative tasks that would cause my eyeballs to explode if I did them all day every day, I get them done quickly and move on to more interesting and engaging tasks like creating methods for gathering turnover metrics, performing employee engagement surveys, and developing new ways to compensate employees for a job well done. Be enthusiastic, and others will notice. Be lackadaisical, and they will notice. It’s up to you to make a good impression.
This is my own personal experience, and I would welcome any additional comments. Would you prefer to work with someone who exhibits these three characteristics?
I 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!