So, you want to begin your career in Human Resources and you don't know where to start? You're concerned because you have little to no experience in the industry but you have a desire to grow as a professional in the field. Well, get out your pen and pad, strike a match under your open and creative mind, and let's begin to self assess; you may be closer to your dream than you know.
When contemplating this next big career move ask yourself what it is you like about the human resource profession. After you've pondered the pros and the cons and you still want to move forward, start by going to the source; work on getting your certification in HR. The suggested and most widely recognized certification for new HR professionals is the PHR(Professional in Human Resources) administered by HRCI (Human Resource Certification Institute). Human resource certifications go a long way in getting your foot in the door of HR in almost any industry, especially if you don't have a lot of experience. The PHR is one of the most widely recognized certifications and it indicates that you are capable of performing entry level roles in human resources.
If you are not ready to study for six months to prepare yourself for the PHR certification and you feel like you need more training, think about returning to school and getting a degree in Business with an HR focus or a degree in Human Resource Management. There are some great colleges, both traditional and online, that offer credible degrees in human resources. Completing a degree, in any discipline really, but in human resources specifically, will take you a long way. Education is key in any field, but especially for a newcomer to the human resources profession. However, a degree is not the nucleus to a successful HR career. HR is an ever evolving profession and with every new governmental administration comes a host of employment law changes along with new rules and regulations affecting how businesses conduct business on a day-to-day basis. HR professionals have to become industry vigilantes. They must be able to immediately assess what has changed and how those changes can and will affect the business.
Ask yourself in what area of HR you would like to specialize. If you want to be a Generalist, this is the jack of all trades in human resources, then you need to be learning and doing as much as you can in areas like benefits; employee relations; compensation; organizational management; career and workforce development, etc. To grow as a human resources professional you need to continually experience and hone HR responsibilities. The role that you play now in your professional/academic/personal life may already have you performing a lot of HR responsibilities. Take note of some of the projects and endeavors you are currently working on. Maybe you’re the treasurer of a club, a manager at McDonalds, or in charge of your son or daughter’s little league team; all the skills you use doing these types of activities transfer quite handsomely over to your career as a human resources professional. Don’t limit yourself by basing your future on your current circumstances. Think outside of the proverbial box. Be creative.
Lastly, NETWORK! NETWORK! NETWORK! start networking like your life depended on it, and it some way it really does. In the world of business and human resources especially, it is not about WHAT you know, but WHO you know and how well you can brand what you know. When people know that you specialize in something they tend to identify you with whatever you specialize in and when opportunities arise, you're the person they turn to; that's your Brand. Network with other professionals and ask them what they did and how they did it. Talk with them about their education and any other aspect of HR that interests you. Again, and this cannot be stressed enough, your career success in human resources, marketing, acting, singing, whatever you decide to do, starts with educating yourself by learning as much as you can, as often as you can, wherever and from whomever you can. Consume as much knowledge as you possibly can about whatever profession you choose to pursue. Treat this pursuit like an adventure and when you reach your goal - and you will - remember, it started with you.
- Join social networking sites, i.e. LinkedIn; Facebook; Urbanprofessionals.com;
- Join SHRM (The Society of Human Resource Management)
- If you can't get a job with HR responsibilities, volunteer your services to the community. This is a great way to gain exposure and it looks really good on your resume.
- If you know what industry you ultimately want to work in (publishing, manufacturing, etc.) begin educating yourself about that industry and how, you, as an HR professional can add value to the bottom line.
- If possible, take some leadership classes. Good HR professionals are not just effective in HR; they also understand the importance of good leadership.