Professional goal setting is key to achieving in your career. But, it can be tough, especially in the world of human resources. So, we asked a few experts to weigh in and give their advice to HR professionals looking to put together their own five year plans.
While starting a career in HR can be happenstance, many people find they love this work. You become a key part of the strategy behind an organization through a career in human resources. And, you get to help define the workplace culture which ends up having a large impact on your colleague’s lives given how much time we spend at work.
We talked to HR leaders across multiple industries and roles to see what advice they had for building a strategic plan for personal development in human resources. We hope the advice on this page helps aspiring HR professionals create a roadmap to move up in the industry, whether it's a 5-year plan, 10-year plan, or even just the next year.
Director of Human Resources & Operations at Actualize
Start your career by adopting the mindset of a consultant. Connect with people, keep open and clear communication, encourage your team to share creative solutions, and provide guidance. Work with a mentor or coach that can help you develop a plan. Surround yourself with key players you can trust and rely upon for skills they bring to round off your team. Develop an unbeatable culture that stands out and has all employee buy-in.
Some early advice that was missing for me was the importance of having a well-rounded background in HR leadership and to have a network to learn from as well as to give back and share knowledge. The advice that I give to new and emerging HR leaders is to diversify their background and move into progressively more amplified roles to gain experience -- and then share what they've learned.
I started my career in benefits, and I stayed in that lane for nearly 3 years before learning a new area of HR. Once I expanded into more of a generalist, I was able to be of better support to the organization, and later to the teams that I have built and led. I also took advantage of every opportunity to grow and learn, and then I got involved in volunteer leadership positions to give back and help develop the future of HR.
I always thought of HR as an ancillary to the business context when I started. Hiring and recruitment, then, was about finding candidates and aligning them to respective vacancies without much understanding about how it impacts the organizational revenues. Today when I look retrospectively at my younger self, I wish I had understood the business context of each hiring I did. I would advise myself to hire after getting a complete understanding of how that vacancy benefits the business bottomline and what the job responsibilities translate into for the business proposition.
The labor market is continually changing, and so are our roles. Thinking that our workplace will still be the same five years from now is just not realistic.
A successful 5-year career plan starts by staying up-to-date and being adaptable. Continue to educate yourself, keep up with industry trends, and observe younger generations' work behaviors. Be curious about what's out there and learn toadapt to the changes of a modern workplace. Having a goal within your career plan is excellent but keep in mind that the path to get there may look a lot different from what you had initially planned.
When you’re a newbie, it might be everything but easy to manage your HR career. However, there’s one piece of advice I’d give my former self and to all the freshly-baked HR pros. When you’re just starting out, you might be tasked with running job interviews or managing employees’ time off. But, as your organization grows, you’ll be the one responsible for channeling the human capital into avenues that will allow the company to reach its true north. So my advice is to never settle and spend every ounce of your energy on growing your skillsets and getting exposure to various verticals. As a result, you’ll be able to stay on track with the company’s big-picture strategy and vision and 11x your value proposition as an HR professional.
When planning for a career in HR, make sure your north star is focused on being the best operator you can be – people are your passion. You don't have to be someone who is overly calculated with your career, but you should have some specifics and non-negotiables in your decision making processes. There are certain skills, processes, business domains, and situations you'll experience that will help round your skillset out over time.
Five year plans are important for any professional that wants to climb the ranks in their organization, and have a meaningful impact on their company. My advice is to think about where you want to be - literally write out your title, your responsibilities, what type of company you are at, and any other specifics of where you want to be. Then, talk to people in your network who are close to this position, and get a sense for the journey they took. What skills did they have to get, what were the title stepping stones, and how do they actually like their current role?
Your ability to contribute to employee development, organization development, employee retention, and a positive, motivating work environment is critical to business success. Consequently, these are expectations of the contributions of HR staff. There are several HR certifications such as those available through the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM). Start off by completing the right qualifications and learn from internships or part time work.
Know your labor laws. This is critical knowledge an aspiring HR professional must know by heart. These laws apply to the different facets of human resources, whether one is under recruitment, compensation & benefits or any other function. Managing employees can get political and controversial if you fail to properly implement it. Labor legislations can work in your favor (sometimes not) when dealing with ethical dilemmas, like discrimination and disciplinary issues. So get to know your country or state's labor laws!
At the start of my career, the advice to take a big picture approach to my HR career would have been extremely helpful. HR is a large field so as you set out on your career path, you want to answer the question: ‘where would I like to eventually end up?’ This way, you aren't just coasting along with no solid career goal; instead, you are able to be very strategic about the kind of opportunities you take up and the skills you nurture while holding the vision of the peak of your career. So, a good piece of advice I would offer anyone getting started is to envision yourself at the summit of your career—how does it look like, what are you doing, where are you doing it? This will help you draft a plan that is true to your dreams, values, and strengths.
By standing on the shoulders of HR leaders before you, you can see past your day-to-day short-term goals to set long-term goals for the years to come. We hope the advice in this post helps you draft a detailed plan for your personal goals, and wish you success as you strive to achieve them!
Check out our blog for more expert advice. If there's anything you want to know from HR leaders, let us know on our contact page. We're always looking to learn more and share that knowledge with you.
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