Tag Archives: Career Advice

renee robson HR

Does Your HR Career Leave an Impact? [Podcast]

If you know anyone who is considering an HR career transition or has recently moved to a new HR or recruiting role, this is the episode for them!

In my 10+ years in the workplace, I still screw things up. Do you? It’s usually driven by urgency rather than slowing down to take a strategic look at how to make a decision. While I will say I haven’t really made career choice mistakes that way, I could have probably done some of the transitions better. More planning, more prep, better alignment with supervisor expectations, etc.

In today’s episode of We’re Only Human I chat with Renee Robson, an HR leader currently based in Australia. We talk about what it takes to measure your success as an HR leader, how to create an environment where you can succeed, the best things about working in HR, and more. It’s a really fun discussion and you can hear the passion in Renee’s voice as we cover all these points!

The thing I think of when this topic of impact arises? Legacy. What’s your legacy? When you leave, how will people refer to you? What will they say about your work and your impact?

And while you won’t hear it in the recording, Renee gets the award for longest “chit chat” before and after a recording. I think we talked for over an hour total OUTSIDE the conversation you’re about to hear. :-) Also, if you enjoy this episode you will probably like “How to Be a Chief Trouble Maker in HR” as well where I talk with Jill Kopanis about breaking out of the stereotypical HR mold.

Show Notes

Episode link: https://beneubanks.podbean.com/e/33-how-to-measure-your-success-in-an-hr-career/

How do you measure success as an HR leader? Is it in the company’s retention and hiring rates, or is it something more personal? Maybe you think about how you’ve helped others succeed in spite of challenges.

renee robson HRToday’s discussion explores how to measure your success, how to make a career transition successfully, and more. Speaking with Renee Robson, Performance and Capability Manager for Widex Australia, Ben digs into what it takes to stratgically run your HR career and take it to new heights. For example, how do you personally lay a foundation of success before and after you take on a new job?

Renee’s insights include a variety of information, from the best things about working in HR to the best way to measure your success in an HR role. She even offers a way to build out a 30, 60, or 90 day plan when taking on a new role or project to ensure sustained success.

Connect with Renee:

https://twitter.com/reneeroberz

https://www.linkedin.com/in/reneerobson/

See other episodes and information about We’re Only Human: http://lhra.io/podcast

Will an HR Certification Make Me More Valuable for a Senior HR Role? [Reader Question]

hr certification career optionsHR certification questions are often seen as pretty binary: either I get one or I don’t. But in reality there’s a lot of nuance to the decision. Should I get an HR degree or an HR certification? Will this help my career? Can it make me more competitive? How much money can I make?

That’s because certification is tied in with our personal lives in that it supports us financially, if we do it right.

For the sake of the author I’m not sharing the person’s real name. 

Hi, Ben!

I am an HR Generalist in a school district. We only have two HR staff here. The rumor is that there may be an opening for an HR Director. I would love a shot at the job. The issue is that my co-worker has been at the district for a long time and I have only been there about two years even though I have nearly 10 years of HR experience.

I feel taking the PHR exam would possibly give me a shot at the Director’s job. What are your thoughts?

-Nancy

My Response to Nancy

Two questions wrapped into one!

First the easy one: if you want to pursue the PHR then go for it. There’s nothing that forces you to tell everyone at work that you’re pursuing the exam on the off chance you don’t pass, and you could have it as soon as March/April if you decide to jump in with both feet. No time like the present, right? If you’re worried about preparing then I’d highly recommend the courses that we’ve put together simply because they help in ways that no other system does. If you have the budget, the HRCP materials even offer a “pass or money back” guarantee, which is hard to beat.

Secondly, let’s look at the career front. While this is still a rumor you should start thinking critically about what makes you a fit for the role.

  • Can you demonstrate your leadership skills now, before the job even exists?
  • How can you start positioning yourself as the kind of person that would be a fit for the job in the eyes of those around you?
  • What other hard or soft skills do you need to pick up in order to be competitive for the role?

Thinking this through helps because when it comes open, even if it’s a publicly posted opening, you have an edge because some of the local leadership should see you as a strategic player, not just another administrative paper pusher.

Let me know if that helps or if I can offer anything more to support you! I think it’s a good question not only because it’s making you think about certification, but because it’s making you think about yourself in terms of how qualified/ready you might be for a leadership role. This book I reviewed previously might be helpful in guiding you towards ways to be influential as a leader even before you get the “title” to go along with it.

Anyone else have comments or suggestions for Nancy?

If you have your own question you’d like featured here, feel free to shoot it to me at ben@upstarthr.com for consideration. 

Should I Apply for this HR Job or Not? [Reader Question]

should i apply for a jobToday’s question is from someone that is trying to get into the HR profession. It’s a common challenge, but her specific problem is whether this is coming too soon or if she is ready for the role. Check it out:

Hello!! My name is Sam. I just started my educational journey in business, and eventually a degree in Human Resource. I’m NEW, I’m EXCITED, and I’m…… uh oh…. I’m given the opportunity to apply for and possibly taking a position, ALREADY?

So, here’s some back story. I’m in our local coffee shop grabbing some fuel for the day, when the owner of my longtime boyfriend comes into line behind me. No big deal, we’ve met many times and he’s a really nice guy. Well, he overhears me speaking about school and asks me what I’m in for. I jokingly say “whatever Company X is hiring for”.

“Human Resources, Janedoe is leaving soon”

Oh. Em. Gee.

THAT’S WHAT I’M GOING TO SCHOOL FOR!
Fast forward, Janedoe is still there, I have been way too chicken to go talk to her. Besides being nervous to get the job (potentially), Im nervous to tell the woman I’ve been working for doing homecare that I’ll be going for an interview for my dreamjob and leaving her in the dust. Continue reading

master's degree hr

Should I Get My Master’s Degree in HR?

master's degree hrFor most of you, I’ll go ahead and said it: You should not get a master’s degree in HR. Really. While that doesn’t apply to everyone, it does apply to a large number of the people that email, comment, and interact with me online. That’s mainly because this question looks a lot like this template:

  • I just completed my bachelor’s in xyz. I have decided/now want/think I should get into human resources. Should I get my master’s degree in HR?

OR

  • I just completed my bachelor’s degree in HR, but I haven’t been able to find a job. Should I get my master’s degree in human resources?

No. No. And no.

In each of these cases, you lack something very important that most of you overlook when you’re asking the question: do you even like HR?

No, really. How do you know? What evidence do you have? What proof?

All too often I hear about someone finishing their bachelor’s on student loans and jumping right into the master’s degree in hopes it will make them more marketable, only to find out later that HR wasn’t a field they actually enjoyed working in. If only you could drop the loans because you didn’t like the profession, but it doesn’t work that way.

And even if you pay for it outright by choosing an affordable college (like this one, for instance) AMBERTON LINK, how do you know that HR is going to be a career field you even like?

For me, I didn’t even consider a master’s degree for the first few years of working after college. That’s because I wanted to make sure of what I wanted to do. Now I’m actually enrolled in an MBA program because I realize that while HR is the love of my life, I also need to be crystal clear about how HR intersects and interacts with the rest of the business. Hint: you need to be able to understand that as well.

Click here to watch the video where I explain the nuances of this decision.

But I have some HR experience

Now, if you have some HR experience under your belt and you’re wondering if you need to get an advanced degree, we can have a conversation about that. It is often interwoven with the certification conversation (Should I get the PHR OR SHRM certification?), because people wonder about the value of each and how they interrelate.

If you have experience and you want to pursue an advanced degree, you need to understand the purpose and intent very clearly. Are you hoping to move up the ladder? Is there another job you need it to be qualified for? Are you trying to make yourself more marketable? Do you need it to perform better in your own work?

In some of these cases, depending on how you answer the question, education might not be the right answer for you at all. On the other hand, it’s possible that additional education could help you to achieve a goal you’ve set for yourself.

I’ll be doing a series in the coming week addressing two other related questions. First, should I get an HR degree or an HR certification? I’ll also address another fundamental question around HR education, which is this: Should I get an MBA or a Master’s in Human Resources?

I’d love to get your take on this commentary. Am I spot on? Way off the mark? What’s your reasoning?

New Research: Be Weird to Get the Hiring Manager’s Attention

I received the highlights from a new CareerBuilder study this week and they made me laugh for two reasons. First, because some of these ideas are actually pretty good, and second, because whoever wrote the press release of the data analysis is a bit off the mark. The gist of the research was this: people are looking for jobs (no surprise there) and some of them are doing interesting, strange, or downright weird things to try and stand out from the crowd.

A sampling of the strange

From the press release:

Hiring managers gave the following examples of unusual tactics job seekers used to stand out:

  • Candidate gave the hiring manager a baseball that read: “This is my best pitch of why you should hire me.”
  • Candidate sent the hiring manager daisies with a note that said “Pick me, pick me.”
  • Candidate brought their mother to the interview as an in-person character reference.
  • Candidate developed a whole website dedicated to the hiring manager, asking to be hired.
  • Candidate hugged the hiring manager when introduced instead of shaking hands.
  • Candidate got up from interview and started waiting on customers because the business got busy.
  • Hiring manager had a candidate volunteer to work at the business for a month before submitting an application to show that she was able to do the job.
  • Candidate presented a thick scrapbook of certificates, awards and letters.
  • Candidate sent a Christmas card every year for three years.
  • Candidate sent a cake with their resume printed on it.

Let’s take a moment to break a few of those down before pointing out the interesting flaw in the logic here.

  • The good: candidate got up during interview and started waiting on customers because the business got busy

While this seems like a strange move, I think it’s actually really interesting. If we set aside any labor laws or FLSA issues of having someone perform a work task among real employees for 10-15 minutes, this is the perfect way to see if someone can actually perform the job. In a study we did earlier this year, we found that candidates actually desire assessments and opportunities to prove their ability to perform on the job (they don’t really like generic assessments with no link to the actual work duties).

  • The bad: candidate sent cake with resume printed on it

This is weird. I like cake more than the average person, and even I wouldn’t eat a cake with a resume printed on it. Yes, I understand that the point is to get in front of the hiring manager, but this has nothing to do with qualifications, value, or usefulness. It doesn’t prove to me anything other than you are looking for ways to cut corners and get results without being willing to do something useful like networking, demonstrating value, etc.

  • The ugly: candidate brought mom to interview

Seriously?

I don’t know that I even need to say anything here. The moment I see a candidate bring his or her mother, I immediately dismiss them as capable of anything other than calling mommy for help when the pressure is on. Don’t do this and don’t tolerate this.

Does this actually help you get a job?

Back to the findings:

Stunts can have a negative impact on your chances of getting the job — more than a quarter of employers (26 percent) say unusual attention seeking antics from job seekers would make them less likely to call a candidate in for an interview.

While some read this as “26% of employers say you are less likely to get an interview,” I read this as “74% of employers DO NOT say you are less likely to get called for an interview.” That’s interesting because if I use one of these stunts to get attention, I am three times as likely to get attention based on the data they are presenting, even though they skew it the other direction by saying one out of four companies is turned off by these types of antics.

Here’s a clue if you’re searching for a job: don’t rely on some weird tactic to get you in the door. Just like you wouldn’t want to date someone that rides up on a unicycle juggling flaming batons, you shouldn’t be swayed by people relying on these kinds of attention-grabbing activities to showcase their skills (unless it’s a really unique case of having to use those kinds of skills, which is a one-in-a-million kind of thing).

What about you? Any interesting stories of things candidates have done to get attention that are outside the norm of phone calls, emails, hard copy resumes in the mail, etc.? 

Top 5 Things Hiring Managers want from Entry Level HR Candidates

Several years ago I did some really interesting research into what HR hiring managers wanted from candidates applying for entry level HR jobs. I wrote about some of the findings in two ultimate guides:

However, today I’d like to dig deeper into the concepts from the research to help illuminate what we as HR leaders see as valuable in candidates with little to no actual experience working in the field.

Top 5 Characteristics Ranked Most Important by HR Leaders

This graphic shows the data rankings of the top things that HR leaders are looking for from entry level applicants.

how to get into HR (without experience)

Source: upstartHR.com research study

  1. As you can see in the research, HR-relevant skills in a non-HR job are the preferred currency for candidates seeking HR positions. I’ve always called this “doing HR where you are,” because there are aspects of many jobs that are “HR lite” in function, such as training, budgeting, or coaching. Being able to show those skills is the closest many candidates come to being able to prove their HR credibility without actually having demonstrated experience in the field.
  2. The next most valuable piece is HR internship experience. Working as an HR intern can fall on a wide spectrum, from grabbing coffee (waste of time) to shadowing and supporting various facets of the HR team (valuable). It’s possible to differentiate in an interview which experience someone had, but candidates are also struggling to get internships and other opportunities. Some of the internship job postings I’ve seen ask for one to two years of HR experience as qualifications, which is completely backwards for a position that’s supposed to be an entry point into the profession!
  3. Continuing the conversation from the previous point, paid HR experience is the next most requested characteristic from entry level HR candidates. At the same time, this is incredibly challenging to get for many individuals. I even profiled a letter recently from someone that was torn about getting into HR because of the bad reputation our profession has, so there are a lot of moving parts here.
  4. The next item on the list? A degree in HR or a related field. This has some measure of value, because it teaches some of the basics, but it’s also well known that higher education is behind the rest of the corporate world by a fairly significant margin. I talk about that in my post about how to learn HR for free–my degree taught me about 20% of what I need to know to be successful in this profession, and the other 80% came from boots-on-the-ground work and experiential learning.
  5. The last of the top five preferences when hiring entry level HR candidates is a history of networking with HR professionals. From my experience, this helps to diminish some of the unknowns and surprises involved in jumping into a new career track. Additionally, it gives us a chance to do some informal background checking to see what others think of these candidates based on their experiences and interactions. Because HR is so integral to business operations, that kind of informal background checking is a very common activity in this field.

Soon I’ll take another look at the final five items in the top ten list, but in the meantime I’d love to hear from you if you’re trying to get into the profession or if you’re hiring these kinds of individuals. Are these on point? What has been your experience? 

HR’s Bad Reputation is Discouraging Me from an HR Career

My good friend Alison Green over at Ask a Manager passed me this question she received because it’s HR-centric. I think many of you will get value from what could have been just another private email conversation, so I’m sharing the question and response here. If anyone else has comments PLEASE add them below, because we’re all better when we help each other, right?
Dear Alison,
I’m currently in my final year of high school and strongly considering pursuing an HR designation in post-secondary. Reading through your blog, I am very often reminded that HR exists primarily for the company (preventing lawsuits, attracting and retaining talent, etc.) and issues that employees have are resolved with the company’s best interests in mind. As such, I can understand why HR can sometimes gain a reputation for being useless (even if I do find it somewhat discouraging).
That being said, I would like to ask you for your input on what an effective HR manager should be like in terms of going above and beyond to support employees when the job description may not ask for it.
I’m thinking especially on how you would advise someone on the HR side to handle a situation where, for example, a department manager is out of control (but not doing anything illegal) and because of nepotism, is safe from consequences or intervention? If HR’s hands are tied, how could HR still go on to assist the employee even though the root cause isn’t solved?
How can HR still be supportive to employees in situations where the company calls for neutrality (or even to side with the company when it is ethically at fault)? And vice-versa?
I think overall I am just experiencing a sense of helplessness when I read stories with negative experiences with HR. On one hand, I can understand that there may be certain legal and logical restrictions to what an HR rep can do that sometimes the employee can’t see. On the other hand, I don’t want to be someone who just throws her hands up and says, “There is nothing I can do for you.” and adheres to the bare minimum requirements.
Is this something that will get better once I have more experience? Am I just being too emotional or naive about my job expectations? If so, any input on helping me recalibrate?
-J

Thank you for being very clear about your questions and concerns, J.

HR does exist to protect the company, and this is still prevalent thinking in many organizations. However, it’s also true that many forward-thinking firms are offloading these compliance-related functions to legal and are focusing more on how to improve employee performance, create better working environments, drive worker engagement, etc.

5 characteristics of a great HR manager Continue reading