Tag Archives: Career Advice

career-3386334_1920

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

Continue reading

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!

data driven people oriented

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?

hr spark

The One Thing You Must Know to Be Successful in an #HR Career

Last week at LinkedIn Talent Connect in Dallas, I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with one of the other speakers about his session. Peter Sursi is a talent acquisition/HR pro working in the FBI to modernize some of their approaches to finding and keeping talent. He’s not what you might expect from a government agency: he is energetic, passionate, and forward-thinking. Yes, this is HR/career advice from the FBI, of all places!

During our conversation, we talked about what makes the difference between teams that are successful long-term when it comes to HR and which ones continue to struggle for years with being strategic, creating value for the business, etc. The quote was a powerful one:

We can’t be emotionally invested in the process. We have to be emotionally invested in the people.

The Big Takeaway

hr sparkThis was a light bulb moment for me. So much of the time as HR practitioners we get wrapped up in our process, our way of doing things, and our perspective on the world.

The problem with that? The business doesn’t always see HR as a requirement to getting the job done. They often see it as a nuisance or a blocker of other necessary activities. The “no” police, in other words. This negative perception even discourages people from trying to get into HR in the first place!

In this quote we see that we should flip it: be invested in the people, care about their results, think about how to help them and eliminate barriers to their success.

Don’t get caught in caring more about your process than you do about the people.

Don’t Let the Light Go Out!

So many people I talk to got into HR because they want to help people. Because they enjoy working with people. And so on. But something often happens where you stop really caring about the people and instead become clingy with your processes, tools, and requirements.

I can still remember ~10 years ago when I was early in my HR career and someone told me that my passion for the profession and the people would eventually wane. I’d stop caring so much. I’d just settle for mediocre.

Maybe it’s because I have a little redneck in me (hello from Huntsville Alabama!) but I decided then and there that I wouldn’t easily let go of that spark that drove me. It’s kept me going all this time and I don’t see it going out any time soon. I want to leave a legacy with my HR career, and I want you to do the same.

What about your spark? Is it still going strong? Do you need to relight it and refocus on why you got started in this profession in the first place? Whether you chose it or you fell into it by accident, you’re here now and it’s up to each of us to make sure we don’t turn into the crusty old HR lady that cares more about process than people.

I’ll hold you accountable if you’ll do the same for me. Deal?

 

speaking

So you want to speak at HR conferences? Advice for the journey

One of the key parts of what I do in my job is speaking. Webinars. Conferences. Seminars. I’ll talk to pretty much anyone about anything related to HR.

speakingAnd I LOVE it.

This is pretty funny for anyone that knows me well, because I’m fairly shy and introverted. If I show up to the pre-conference party myself, I’ll eat quickly and leave for the safety of my hotel room and a good book. Ideally I’ll have a friend or someone meeting me so at least I have a person to connect with when I arrive. Better still if they introduce me to one or two people so I am not flying solo (or my “return to home” alert kicks in and I’m out of there in a flash).

Anyway, I have been speaking over 10 years now. The very first event was actually pushed on me (kindly) by a friend that thought I had important things to say. I was early in my career, but I had lots of experience already using social media, building a strong network, and developing myself outside of work. That formed the core presentation called “HR Sponge,” which was aptly named because the friend called me her sponge for new information. :-)

Fast forward to today, and I’ve spoken to tens of thousands of HR, talent, and learning professionals across the world. Spring and fall are heavy HR conference seasons, so I spend a fair amount of time on the road during those times. It balances out, because summer and winter are family time! With the new book that came out late last year, I’ve been speaking a lot more on the topic of artificial intelligence and how it can help us make HR more human, not less.

(Don’t tell my wife but I’m already thinking about the next book.) :-)  Continue reading

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.