When was the last time you did something nice for your (future) self?
For those already in human resources (HR), or if you’re thinking of moving into the field, there’s never been a better time to increase your skills and make your next career move. Whether you want to become more visible in your organisation, secure a promotion or gain leadership experience, there are many proactive ways you can advance your HR career.
While navigating the modern world of career advancement can seem intimidating at first, you have more control over your path than you may realise. Using the resources around you and gathering new ones will help you launch your HR career to exciting new heights.
1. Boost your education
One of the best things you can do to grow your career is to focus on your education. With so many career options available for human resources specialists, it’s important to understand the full extent of what you can achieve in the field. Increasing your post-secondary education with a Master of Business Administration (MBA) is one way for you to explore your options in an open and constructive learning environment.
An MBA will provide you with the specific skills you need to succeed, including advanced finance and business analysis. It will also set you up to become an expert in your field, ensuring you understand the modern business environment and how to offer support for all those working within it.
2. Be creative
The most successful HR professionals know that there’s always room for new ideas. By drawing on your creativity, you can help drive improvements in your work environment for the benefit of everyone.
Great HR managers are able to find new and exciting ways of enlivening a workplace with fun and vigour. Some ways to help foster creative thinking and boost your profile at work are to:
Encourage people to be creative – Human beings are creative at heart! Simply giving those within your organisation permission to think outside the box can immediately lighten the mood and encourage new ideas
Foster collaboration – HR specialists are in a unique position to help foster more collaboration in the workplace. Stepping more actively into this part of your role and facilitating workshops, mentoring or planning day sessions will see you become a more active conduit for innovation in your work environment
Recognise and reward creativity – Being creative can be fun, but it can be demotivating if that creativity goes unnoticed. Recognise and reward those who’ve gone the extra mile. When employees are proud of their work and see their ideas in action, they’ll be inspired to come up with more ideas.
3. Surround yourself with the right people
As in any profession, the people you make connections with matter. If you’re just starting out in HR, surround yourself with the right people. Well-connected mentors and experienced peers can help set you on the right course for career development.
Consider seeking out job-shadowing opportunities to meet more professionals who are working in your area of interest. When seeking out a mentor, look for people who you respect and feel comfortable going to for advice. You can also proactively search platforms like LinkedIn or dedicated mentoring services, such as Mentor Selector, to find new connections.
Surrounding yourself with the right people will help you clarify your career direction and develop your passion for the industry.
4. Seek out challenges
Great HR professionals are rarely satisfied with the status quo. If you’re looking to advance your career, being proactive and seeking out new solutions is key to expanding your horizons.
HR specialists are skilled in their ability to manage morale, cooperation and upskilling to meet changes in the business. By seeking out challenges in these types of areas, you’re demonstrating your ability to think laterally and apply new thinking to streamline the business.
Step outside your comfort zone regularly. If management is concerned about employee retention, address the issue head-on by researching and testing new ways to improve employee recognition programs. In a recruitment rut? Challenge yourself to find new solutions to your recruitment woes. Look in different places for those in-demand candidates or turn the search on its head and target more mature workers for new roles.
Furthering your education and seeking new challenges will help you gain new skills and deepen your experience in the field.
5. Be open to change
The unknown can bring up feelings of uncertainty and anxiety. One of the largest responsibilities of HR is guiding employees through moments of change.
When done right, change management can relieve uncertainty, reduce negative impacts and engage a workforce. To steward this type of reaction, you first need to be prepared and open to change in your own role.
Expanding your knowledge – with project management and systems thinking skills – can help guide those around you. Along with these technical skills, you’ll also need the right interpersonal skills to gain insight into all the people and teams you have a unique vantage point over. Openness through your communication and attitude will help ready you and those around you for what the future has to offer.