“What one piece of advice would you give to someone just starting their career in HR and looking to make a mark?"
My colleague asked this question to HR professionals who belonged to one of the larger HR-focused LinkedIn groups. The answers were informative, valuable and show a shift in the mindset of HR practitioners from passive to active drivers in their workplace.
I love the HR community and its willingness to help out professionals in and out of the industry and want to share some of these pieces of wisdom with you.
Here's what they said. There’s an emphasis placed on learning; about the HR industry, office politics and business. There’s a focus on proper treatment of employees. There’s also an understanding that there is a right way to say no and hold one’s ground when facing pushback from management. Group members even provided recommendations of what fields to get into.
I’ve tried to paraphrase the responses and group them into themes for easier reading:
Importance of Learning
- Find your sector and develop expertise within it to add value to your organization
- Always be learning
- Have a strong understanding of the metrics in your organization and what drives them
- Get exposure to various aspects of HR
- Asking for help is a sign of self-awareness and strength
- Learning HR doesn’t end with your degree, it’s a life-long process
Office Politics and Business Acumen
- Know the business and learn the culture
- After you have deep understanding of the business and a firm grasp of the industry, you will be able to change things to ensure the business can meet the new realities and plan for the future.
- Ask as many questions as you can.
- Be a business first, HR second by focusing on delivering project-type work that adds value
- Be commercial but compassionate
- Be proactive not reactive to stakeholder problems
How to Treat employees
- Think of the company’s employees as your customers and provide good service
- Get front line experience to learn how employees work
- Understand the people – by finding out their motivation and their history
- Stay true to you, learn to push back and say no at the right time
- We have a duty to steer the management team to not only follow policies but also to combine this with ‘doing the right thing’
- Be flexible while standing firm and be able to explain your reasons
Fields to Get Into
- Executive compensation or HR analytics which are both sought after by employers, but have little competition
- Operations or a mainstream segment to start because it will help you learn the business
In the Long Term
- Dedicate yourself to the vocation and not the profession of human resources
- Keep in mind why you chose HR