Recently I had a conversation with a young HR professional. She had around three years experience and was thinking about a next step. As part of this process she was interviewing some senior HR professionals to get their view.
What was my advice to her? First I referred to my blog post “12 things to learn if you want a career in HR“. This list is still valid, and if you master a good part of the list, you will come a long way. In addition we spoke about four points to consider:
- Specialize. In the future most people who work in HR will be specialists. Specialists in recruitment, in training, in compensation and benefits, in community management, in talent management and so on. HR generalists will be a small minority. The real generalists (sometimes referred to as HR business partners) will work at high level in organizations. Some will have a background in HR; others come with a more operational business background.
- Carefully pick the organization you want to work for. Organizations that are moving are the best choice if you want to have a career in HR. Moving upward is always the best. When an organization is growing, numerous opportunities will occur. Your boss will be very busy, and happy to delegate. Moving downwards is second choice, but young HR professionals can learn a lot in organizations that are downsizing and restructuring.
- Carefully choose your new boss. Your boss is the one who can have a lot of influence on your career. Maybe even more important than choosing the right organization is choosing the right boss. There is no website with “Boss Ratings” yet, but it will not be long before these will appear. Ask around. Google around. Prepare the right questions for your interview. And if it turns out you have made the wrong choice: do not hesitate and move on!
- Network. The strength and the diversity of your network are important for your career. Through your network you will find new opportunities. More and more in the selection process your network will be judged.
We discussed other elements, like: give chance a chance. Think internationally. Think big. Think outside the HR box.
There will be exciting careers in HR, especially if you work hard and are willing to take some risk. Success.