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New HR Staff Can Use These Tips to Grow Their Careers

Image Copyright Justin Horrocks

As the business world has become ever-more connected and fast-paced, identifying efficiencies is vital to success for any company, across multiple industries. With increasing interconnectedness, the most important capital for the majority of companies in the Information Age is human capital.

The new generation of human resources professionals will need to evaluate their peers and colleagues to identify the most efficient way to deploy their knowledge and abilities in service of their organization’s goals. On top of that, demand for human resources professionals is expected to grow about 22% by 2018, according to the Bureau for Labor Statistics.

The following five tips are for new professionals entering this growing field who want to build their foundations in the human resources profession. They also serve as reminders for seasoned professionals at any point in your career.

Deepen your business knowledge to enhance your contribution to your business partners in these seriously challenging times.

The efficient deployment of a company’s human capital cannot be achieved unless you understand the business that your company is in, and how your specific skillset can help to identify the best way for your company to progress in their business goals.

In a technology organization, for example, this means taking the time to meet with the development team to learn how they create and sustain new products, as well as the sales team to get a sense of how they organize their operations. The more knowledge you have of how your organization’s managers work, the better you can assess ways to provide training programs that enhance their weaknesses or identify the talent that would best support their initiatives and management style. Lastly, I’ve discovered in most situations, our line executives are willing to invest time with their HR leaders helping them learn the business.

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Expand your network with social media and use it

As the saying goes, success is not about what you know, but who you know. For the human resources professional, this is even more apt; your professional network will give you a leg up on identifying the best talent and training staff for your organization. Social networking platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn have become indispensable tools for growing a person’s professional network, enabling professionals in many industries to organize, grow and maintain contact with their networks much more easily.

In a way, using social media for professional growth echoes the days when a young apprentice would travel to a new city with a letter of reference – except social media provides reference networks on a larger scale - enabling people to approach their professional contacts through platforms like LinkedIn to gain introduction to influential people in their industries.

Of course, all of this is useless if you just place a profile online and don’t actually use the connectivity of your preferred networks. While the constant flow of new information available every second on social networking platforms can be overwhelming, even a small amount of time spent reviewing contact news and updates - say 10 minutes a day at least - can reap incredible benefits.

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Mine your network for thought leadership and learn

From a knowledge perspective, who you know can also help you expand what you know. Groups on Facebook and LinkedIn can serve as supplements to the traditional lunchtime professional seminar, in terms of both meeting new contacts and spreading information. Well-curated groups on both networks enable a constant, fluid exchange of professional information. This will also help you quickly synthesize any trends or broader issues as you get access to more people and information.

Just as you’d go to professional lunches with colleagues to identify problem spots and share experiences, (and they may be pitifully or productive in your locale) discussion groups on social networks can provide an active forum to table real-world problems, and help you discover methods, solutions or resources you might not otherwise find.

Be BOTH a value contributor and a game changer

Effective use of your mental capital and networking ability can be extremely useful to a human resources professional. The ability to discover the right talent and address your company’s specific business problems are what you are judged on.

But there’s a difference between being an order-taker and a creative influencer on your company. In an episode of the television series Mad Men, the reason for an account executive’s promotion is explained to a rival as, “the rare gift of making [clients] feel as if they haven't any needs.”

That same gift is true of the most successful human resources professionals. They anticipate the needs of their organizations’ department heads, ensure that they are cared for, and provide creative solutions before there are any problems that need to be addressed. You will be more valued, and your job will be more interesting!

GROW your thinking, your skills and your leadership like there is no tomorrow

Business around the world has changed dramatically over the 30 years that I’ve been in the human resources profession. And it won’t ever stop changing. Those who treat their careers, in any function, but especially human resources, as a constant educational course, will be the ones who see the changes well before they occur. They will be able to find the early adopters and influencers in their organization’s field and will be invaluable educators for their existing staff.

As you approach a field where demand is on the rise, human resources professionals will need to distinguish themselves as true strategic partners for their current or prospective employers. By treating their function as an ever-evolving area of study and taking advantage of the reach of social networking to improve their professional network, new human resources pros can set themselves down the path of distinction.

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