Tag Archives: Career Advice

5 HR Career Questions You Must Answer to Reach the Top of Your Game

“I’m stuck and I don’t know where to go from here.” 

I was coaching someone recently that is working to get into a new HR role, and it was a tough situation. She had been excited to join the company, came on and did great work, but she missed out on an opportunity for a promotion into a senior position and was feeling let down. 

We talked through her options, and when it came to it, we realized that she didn’t have a good handle on some of the key things she needed that would enable her to make a plan for the coming months and years ahead. Things like her unique: 

  • Strengths, values, and passions
  • Long-term career milestones
  • Work styles and preferences that drive her behavior

So we worked on exploring and uncovering each of those items on the list (and a few others). And then I realized that this was something I had to do myself early in my career so I could steer my work towards what I wanted to do and accomplish. As a bit of a nerd, it’s something that comes naturally to me, but other people need an outside prompt or encouragement to start exploring those critical questions they must answer about themselves. 

In the link below, you can get the free guide with the five questions (no strings attached). I’m actively building out some new resources around HR careers because it’s a question I get on a daily basis and I know that we can help each other get smarter, be better, and accomplish more.

Regardless of whether you’re trying to break into HR, you’ve been with us for a few years, or you have more experience than me, these questions will help you think critically about what you’re doing and how to sculpt and shape your career into something you can be proud of. 

Are HR consultant jobs a good idea? [Reader Question]

Today’s question is about HR consultant jobs and whether they are a good career move. 

Note: I LOVE to get questions from readers (just like the one below). If you have a question you’d like to ask here or on the podcast, please send it to questions AT upstarthr.com or record a short voice note here anonymously: https://upstarthr.com/question

See other reader questions here. Today’s question is about HR consultant jobs and whether they are a good career move for someone who is trying to break into HR. 

I have been working in a retail job and want to get into HR. Are HR consulting jobs a good idea for me? I have my degree and want to take the certification exam when I can. 
Luis

Good News and Bad News

Hi Luis! Thanks so much for the question. Let’s dive into a few aspects of this because it’s not an easy yes/no answer when it comes to HR consultant jobs. 

I’ll start with the tough news: if you’re working in retail and have not been in HR yet, it’s going to be very difficult to jump right into consulting. There are a few reasons, like the fact that 80% of what you learn about HR happens on the job, not in a classroom. 

learning hr consultant jobs

That said, don’t lose hope! I have some ideas for you that can help you make some headway. 

Breaking into HR and Other Tips

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ways to learn human resources

Do I need an HR degree to apply for an HR job? [Reader Question]

I get a lot of questions from readers about HR careers, job searching, HR certification, and more. If you have a question you’d like to see answered here, please send it over! See other questions I’ve answered here.

Is an HR degree required to apply for a job in HR, or are graduates with other degrees also considered for these roles? -Dominique

Hi Dominique!

Six months ago, I would have said no. Right now, I’m going to still say “no” but with a caveat. This changed everything in the job market: Continue reading

Are you #lookingforwork in HR? Let us help!

Today I had a great call with Molly Shelton. She’s an HR pro that is passionately trying to help those that are looking for HR work, and we are going to put together a resource that you can leverage to help yourself stand out in the hiring process AND show off your passion for HR.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • If you are employed, you likely know someone who is out of work in the HR space. PLEASE share this post with them so they can participate if they want.
  • If you are looking for work and you want to participate, details are below.
  • If you are looking for work and do not want to participate, please share this with someone else you know that may be looking!

How to Participate

This is going to be a multi-author eBook that highlights the ideas and perspectives of the amazing, talented HR pros that are currently looking for work. You are great. I know you’re great. Let’s show the rest of the world that you’re great, shall we?

The ask is fairly straightforward: write 250-300 words on a topic of your choice as it relates to HR, talent, learning, engagement, or whatever topic you think you have a perspective on. That’s it. We will collect 10 of these and publish an eBook featuring you in the content. We will include your LinkedIn profile, LinkedIn profile photo/headshot, and your name alongside your entry.

If you want to participate, fill in your information here.

This is first come, first served. We are limiting the first eBook to 10 authors. There is no cost to participate–we are covering all the design and promotion costs. The deadline for entry is Friday July 24th OR when we receive the first 10 qualified submissions from active HR job seekers. We expect to have the eBook published by end of July so participants can start using it immediately in their job search efforts.

The funds for this effort are being generated by sales of the HR Summer School replay on HumanResourceAcademy.org

If you want some free resources and education in the meantime, please check out our Freebies page for things like HR Job Titles, the Ultimate Guide to Breaking into HR, and more. 

HR Career Advice: Share Your Own Tip and Be (HR) Famous!

I’ve written many times about my entry into the HR profession. One of the things I’ve always prioritized is creating resources to help people get into HR and move toward their strengths and interests. Over the last year I have answered countless emails from people needing career advice and support (some of them answered publicly here on the blog).

It’s difficult to answer every request, so after talking with a few people I have decided to start a podcast series on We’re Only Human that features content focused on HR careers. I recently started crowdsourcing the topics for this series, and a number of people pointed out critical things that they think new or aspiring HR pros need to know.

For example, consider some of the comments below:

I don’t think enough gets said to HR career seekers about the knowledge, experience, and skills you get and the knowledge, experience, and skills you need at a small company vs a midsize company vs a large company. Titles often appear similar across postings but duties and skills required are vastly different based on company sizes. –Marquesa Ortega

I had a hard time applying what I learned in school to my HR career. It took a couple of years to close that gap. I found it difficult to know how and when to apply what I had learned since it’s not as obvious in the context of work. There isn’t a quiz at the end of the day. You have to always be considering when to use what you learned. That’s something I would have liked to learn about so maybe others would too. –Andrea Lato

There needs to be more awareness of the knowledge-skills gap for HR folks. I have hired dozens of HR practitioners right out of school who have acquired quite a bit of knowledge (some with 6 years that includes a Master’s in HR), but lack the skill set to be effective, without quite a bit of upskilling and training. In terms of skills, I am talking about: tech selection and procurement, writing a business case, tech implementation, change management Comms and training, content/copy writing for external and internal Comms, data collection, data analytics, basic Stats, design thinking, marketing skills for recruitment, branding (for building an employer brand), Machine Learning, evidence based practice, and I can go on and on… The solution: let’s be honest up front and let the next generation of human resources pros know that their career will be a lifelong learning journey covering the skill sets mentioned above, along with many others, and that they should embrace being a Polymath. It is indeed an exciting time to be joining the ranks of HR! –Robert St-Jacques

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Leadership-it's about asking tough questions...

I’ve Done HR But I Don’t Have an HR Job Title [Reader Question]

One of my favorite things to do is answer reader questions here on the blog. If you have a question you’d like answered (I answer as many as possible!) just shoot a note to ben@upstarthr.com. 

Question, Questions, Man, Head, Success, Lamp, Brain

Hi Ben,

I’m a Business Administration major. I’m in my last year and I’ve chosen 5 Human Resource courses as my electives to assist me with gaining a basic knowledge of the career I want to pursue.

I have some experience with the recruitment process. I worked as a Assistant Leasing Manager for 9 years, and the company was small I would use social media and job platforms to search for Maintenance candidates, make the calls to schedule interviews, process their testing and applications and assist with completing their W2’s , insurance, and set-up their employee file. I assisted the company with setting up new payroll systems and establishing employee profiles.
Long story short Ben is could this be used to assist me with gaining access into a entry level position. Every time I apply for a position, they want 1 to 3 years or more of experience. I have never worked with HR systems before, but have encountered them them course work. How do I get firms to consider me for positions in this career? I have bits of experience but have missing parts needed to qualify for them.

Please , any advise you have would be beneficial to me. Can you point me in the right direction?

Sam


Before I dive into an answer here, I want to let everyone know that I’m going to be recording a podcast series on We’re Only Human focusing on HR careers to help share these kinds of answers in a broader way, reach and help more people, and get some outside perspectives as well. If you have any ideas you want to share about what you think might be helpful or things you might want to learn yourself, please weigh in here

Now, as for the question today, this is such a common question that I want to address here for anyone that’s trying to get into HR.

One of my long-time recommendations is to “do HR where you are.” If you are in retail, find ways to help set schedules, train other workers, or coach new people. If you’re in an office environment, help to welcome interviewees and show them around, work with new people on orientation, etc. Anything you can do that extends your capabilities into the realm of HR is a good thing. The next step is to take any of that experience and translate it onto your resume.

Sam, I would revise the resume to prioritize your HR-related skills, because everything you listed in your experience above is something that an HR pro would do at a larger firm (recruiting, onboarding, new hire paperwork, etc.) If you have to explain your role/title as “Leasing Manager and On-site HR Support,” that would be accurate based on your job duties even if it wasn’t your technical job title. You can explain that in an interview but right now the leasing job title is preventing you from even starting a conversation with a potential employer.

I have written a lot on this topic and these resources will help you to think about this, but I think changing the resume is your best bet as a starting point. In the big scheme of things, the resume is about starting a conversation with an employer. The interview is about really selling them on your capabilities. If you are applying for early career/entry level HR roles and you have these experiences you mention, it should be easy to convey in an interview. Right now you just have to get over that resume-to-interview hurdle and then you can really show off what you can do.

You’ve got this! Good luck and go make it happen. See other reader questions here.

If anyone else has advice for Sam, feel free to share below!

The Best HR Leaders are Data Driven, People Oriented

data driven people orientedOne of the phrases I’ve found myself repeating more and more often of late is this: data driven, people oriented. 

When I’m speaking to audiences, I share the story about how I *accidentally* insulted my wife during childbirth to illustrate this concept.

Yes, really.

It makes a great point that we can’t just be data driven or we lose sight of the people behind every metric and number. If you want to hear me tell the story live during the first ever episode of the podcast, you can check that out here.

The point is that as HR and talent leaders, we have two things that we need to keep in mind:

  • People: we are the “people people” in the business. We need to know the people better than anyone else. Most of us got into HR because we like helping others and because that service brings us joy. However, we also have to know…
  • Data: for far too long HR has said, “I want respect! I want to help the business, but they won’t invite me to the meeting. How do I get some credibility?” Data is the answer to that. Evidence matters.

Hence the phrase data driven, people oriented. We can’t go too far into either side or we create nightmare scenarios.

  • All people, no data: we are soft and squishy and nobody cares what we have to say because all that matters are hugs and rainbows.
  • All data, no people: we are hard-charging, ROI-driven monsters without a single concern for the people at the other end of our decisions.

Balancing both aspects helps you to not only have a voice in the business and with your leadership team but also helps to ensure that your voice is being used to advocate for the workforce. Bringing data and evidence to the conversation in the form of HR analytics creates a more credible, valuable conversation. And doing so on behalf of the employees is critical.

Even if you didn’t get into HR because you love data and numbers, you need to learn to speak the language of the business or risk being ignored, shut out, and forgotten when all of the important decisions are being made in your company.

Who’s with me?