'I'm a people person' and 'I like helping others' are two common reasons many entering the profession give for being drawn to a career in HR. But while they’re good enough reasons to get started, you'll need to develop and deploy a whole range of specialist skills and tools to truly thrive in this important discipline. Even in the Information Age, human capital is the most important capital investment an organisation has. The next generation of HR professionals will need to identify the most efficient ways to nurture and leverage their organisation's collective knowledge and abilities in service of their operational goals. The following five tips are for new professionals entering this growing field who want to build a solid foundation in the profession. (If you're a seasoned professional, you might like to share them with your team!)
1. Understand your people
Developing a rapport with the employees at your organisation goes a long way in determining your success in this field. Before you do anything at all in a new role, make a plan for understanding your people (what that looks like in practice will vary depending on the size of your workforce) – how can you get to know them as individuals? This includes their personal and professional goals, specific roles and remits, milestones and workplace anniversaries, strengths, challenges, workplace needs and their short and long term career plans. This information is fundamental to company culture, employee engagement and productivity and is the ongoing barometer for all other HR activity.
2. Know your organisation
Leveraging your human capital is only possible when you can identify where each employee can contribute best. So alongside getting to know your workforce as individuals, you need to develop a good knowledge about the business as well. Set yourself a challenge to learn specifically how your company's HR works - from what data is held and which software packages you use, to understanding your policies and procedures around payroll, recruiting, onboarding, training, goal-setting and monitoring. Spend some time understanding the vision of the business and establishing your leadership team's expectations of the HR team's role within this. Also identify what your specific role is - how are you as an individual expected to contribute to the HR function and how does this fit with the organisation's wider goals?
3. Be tech-savvy
As part of your above investigations, you'll have come across the various technologies your company uses to manage its HR operations. If there are a lot of different tools and platforms being used without integration, or processes haven't been updated in line with technological developments, you might want to consider suggesting (and leading on) a technology audit. You'll want to look at your employee database, how you track and manage performance reviews, how you oversee and run payroll, how employees communicate and feedback etc. What gaps or weaknesses can you identify in your current procedures that could be tackled effectively with an investment in technology?
4. Keep learning
Make every effort to increase your expertise. This could be through e-learning, sector-based seminars, training courses or simply taking up projects in your organisation that are complementary to HR. (Don't forget that we run regular HR and employment law seminars which would certainly help to tick this box!) This will not only give you exposure to different verticals, but ensure that you keep growing as a professional. Trends emerge and develop at pace and you will want to make sure you're on top of the significant changes in your field - read trade publications, join professional membership bodies, subscribe to HR blogs (like ours!) and newsletters, follow influential people in your sector on social media and ask the senior members of your team how they keep up with (and contribute to) sector news. You might also want to find a mentor - someone senior in HR outside your organisation who can provide regular support and guidance as you navigate your early years in the profession. You could ask your company if they are able to organise this for you, or you could take it into your own hands and approach people directly - be bold, it might pay off!
5. Grow your network
Whilst the previous tip focuses on your knowledge of the sector, this one is all about the people within it. Networking and making meaningful connections with people is part of getting ahead in most professions, but you could argue it's a fundamental requirement of HR. Your professional network will help you in finding the best talent to recruit, the best suppliers for your organisation and the best opportunities for your next role! Use LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to help you. The power of social media makes it much easier to build a network and gain an introduction to influential people across various industries. Even a small amount of time spent reviewing your contacts' news and updates – say 10 minutes a day – can reap incredible benefits.
You're ready to take over the (HR) world!
One last handy tip - when you're reviewing your organisation's recruitment procedures, take a look at how we work with our partners and get in touch to see how we can help you improve this important HR function. We're on 01932 355000 or at firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to connect - or you can ping us a message on our website live chat (Tamara will be ready and waiting to reply!).
Good luck in your new career!