It seems like there’s a lot of information out there to help HR professionals get better at their job, but not a lot of advice for those who are just starting in the industry. It’s a tricky world out there for HR, and at WIRL we’re all about helping to make it easier.
So, we asked 15 leading HR experts the most valuable piece of advice they could offer to anybody who has just started on the courageous task of getting involved in HR.
The top 6 pieces of advice given were:
- Build Your HR Network and Be Social
- Get To Know The Employees
- Utilize Technology
- Hone Your Professional Skills
- Set Goals
- Be Responsible For Your Own Engagement
For more detail, read their individual responses below! Of course, our advice is to get yourself a continuous feedback tool to simplify some of your HR responsibilities.
Build Your HR Network and Be Social
Cyndy Trivella – Manager Marketing at SmartSearch, Inc.
Over 15 years’ experience within the field of HR Communications / Talent Sourcing Strategies and Employer/Employment Branding using industry best practices for attracting and retaining A-Level Talent candidates.
My best advice for anyone new to HR is to ask lots of questions and don’t settle for the response, ‘this is the way we’ve always done it’. That answer is the kiss of death. Network with other HR people outside of your company and attend HR-related meetings (such as SHRM monthly luncheons) when you can. Be social IRL, as well as online. Twitter and LinkedIn have a high level of participation by HR professionals… get to know them by interacting in a giving way. If you’re fortunate, you may even find a mentor among them, and if you do, cultivate that relationship for the long run.
Sara Locke, CHRP – Human Resources Specialist at Subway
The most valuable piece of advice I could give to someone who is new to HR is to make connections with those in the field of Human Resources by investing time in networking! Networking will not only help you acquire new business connections and grow your professional network, but it will also help you learn new skills and concepts surrounding the industry of HR. Conversations with like-mind HR professionals can be extremely rewarding and enlightening as it will provide you with new industry insights and perspectives, which will evidently help you build the knowledge base and confidence to become a strategic partner in your Company. Furthermore, these connections, in turn will help you achieve your professional developmental goals; by forming and maintaining a strong contact base, the more knowledge you will gain to help you succeed in your profession and role.
There are many networking opportunities available for new HR Professionals. Some examples of opportunities available are mentorship programs, Human Resources Professional Association [HRPA] Chapter events, HR meetups, the HRPA Annual Conference, and LinkedIn.
One quote that continuously reminds me of the importance of networking is “networking is not about just connecting people. It’s about connecting people with people, people with ideas, and people with opportunities”
Lorraine Lau, CHRP – Human Resources Manager at Jam3
Strategic Human Resources Manager with a passion for the marketing + advertising industry and an even bigger passion for the people within it. Progressive experience in human resources within a generalist capacity specializing in process implementation, employee engagement and employee relations.
The most valuable piece of advice I could give is to network! Breaking into the field of HR is tough, there are 300 qualified candidates for every entry level HR position. Networking and being able to show who you are beyond your resume is far more effective than sending out 100 resumes into the ether.
Kate Salmon – Communications Strategy Specialist at Learnography
My advice: Build your network! Every day in HR presents unique challenges, and friends in the field (outside of your company) can offer much-needed advice and support. Join the HRPA or attend HR events to start making connections.
Get To Know The Employees
Cheryl Kerrigan – Vice President at Blue Cat
Cheryl is a global HR Executive with over 15 years of experience focused on recruiting, retaining and inspiring employees and setting the people strategy to achieve business results.
As a new HR professional it can be hard to figure out where to prioritize and focus your time. The exciting thing about choosing a career in HR is that every day is different and you often don’t know what challenge or issue you will be faced with!
I think the most important thing any new HR professional can spend time doing is understanding who their customers are. And by customers I mean what are the needs of the employees in the organization? The way to do this is to ask questions and listen to the responses. Don’t just rely on your manager to tell you what you need to focus on but get out and start having conversations with your customers (the employees and managers that work at the company).
By engaging in conversation from a cross section of the organization you can learn very quickly how you can make an impact. Ask: what is going well at the company? What their expectations of HR are? Why did they join the company? Why do they stay? How do they expect you to support them? What are their business initiatives that they are focused on?
By asking questions and not assuming that you know the answers you quickly can establish rapport, solidify relationships and get an understanding of how you can prioritize your time to provide the greatest impact to your company as their HR professional and that you are a true business partner.
Mark C. Crowley – Author, Keynote Speaker, Author of Lead From The Heart: Transformational Leadership For The 21st Century
As a speaker & consultant, Mark has been recognized as a major thought leader in workplace leadership. His Amazon Best-Selling book is taught in 6 universities, & his work has been published by Fast Company Magazine, USA Today, the Huffington Post, The Seattle Times, and Gallup.
Routinely get out and spend time with employees so you have a very human understanding of how your decisions, policies and programs impact people. Very often, this kind of interaction will deeply influence you and help you make far more better choices.
Never forget that your goal is to do work that benefits people — not just the pure interests of the company. The more you can find win-win outcomes, the greater your career success will be.
Jennifer McClure – Keynote Speaker, Executive Coach, President of Unbridled Talent LLC, CEO of DisruptHR LLC
Jennifer McClure is a sought after Speaker and Coach who combines her experiences as a Business Leader, Human Resources Executive, Executive Recruiter and Executive Coach with an educational, entertaining and informative style.
I strongly recommend that new HR professionals schedule time to build relationships with their peers, colleagues, and leaders in other areas of the business. Don’t wait to be called in to put out a fire, or address problems. Regularly meet with them and ask how things are going in their area. Ask if there’s anything you (or HR) can do to support them in meeting personal and business objectives. If you can establish a reputation as someone who is interested in the business as a whole, and understands how HR can contribute to business strategy, you’ll be well on your way to a meaningful career, and creating a positive impact in your organization.
Iman Baldiwala – Human Resources Generalist at Index Exchange
Understand. The ability to understand in order to provide advice and compassion is an art that HR professionals are required to master. Whether it’s as a recruiter, a generalist, a trainer, or even a manager, taking a minute to put yourself in another’s position to decipher their words and actions is important. Knowing when candidates are nervous or employees need a sounding board is definitely challenging, especially when attempting to be objective, subjective, and simultaneously nurture relationships. But, ensuring that the end goal of being employee centric is never lost sight of, it’s easy to make legally sound and organization friendly decisions, while emerging a seasoned HR professional.
JoAnn Corley – Founder, CEO of The Human Sphere
Prior to launching her consulting practice, JoAnn spent several years as an International Benefits Manager and Senior Recruiter, working for 2 INC 500 companies. Joann has been quoted or featured in articles for NBC News, Monster.com, Harvard Business Review, HR Hero, and SHRM National.
I have 2 [pieces of advice] – become very adept at the use of technology and strive to be a significant and meaningful business partner by learning to think from a business/operational performance perspective.
Greg Pantelic – Co-Founder of WIRL
For the past 3 years, Greg has been leading the WIRL team to provide continuous feedback and improvement solutions for over 60 companies across North America, Europe and India
Use your ears, then your voice. It’s important that you first listen to really understand how the organization works. Once you’ve grasped this (and don’t take too long), use your voice at the appropriate times to make positive change. If you feel like you and others don’t have a voice in the organization, consider championing for a technology platform that empowers you and the people 😉
Max Korpinen – Business Samurai at FOVE
Hone Your Professional Skills
Jason has dedicated his career to helping leaders build organizations that are good for both people and profits–first as an entrepreneur, then a corporate HR executive, then as a consultant, researcher, and speaker.
Get trained in and read about the art of selling and influence. These skills will be what equip you to make meaningful change happen within the organization.
Tim Baker, CHRP, CHRL – HR Consultant, Community Dir at The HR Gazette, Co-Organizer
Tim is a Certified Human Resources Leader with a diverse professional background including Operations Management, Customer Service and Human Resources Management.
As a new HR professional it can be easy to have some tunnel vision. Don’t forget about all the past and present knowledge and experience you bring with you. Be creative. Leverage your existing expertise to be innovative and present your entire value to an organization.
Sam Gold – HR Consultant/Director at GoldHR Consulting Limited
With over 18 years’ experience in HR management, Sam’s company provides expert, straightforward and relevant advice that adds value to your business
Setting up as an HR professional, as with any business is really hard, but one of the key things for me in my journey and it took me a while to realise the importance of it is you need to have goals. Whether you set up working for yourself or as an employee, you need to be clear what are you doing it for. Is it be an expert, make money, go on holiday. It really doesn’t matter, but having clarity of your goals, makes it much more likely you will succeed.
Be Responsible for Your Own Engagement
David Zinger – CEO: Chief Engagement Officer at David Zinger Associates
David Zinger connects the strength of one with the power of many as an engagement speaker, coach, and consultant. He founded and hosts the global 7080 member Employee Engagement Network. He has worked on engagement in Canada, United States, Poland, Wales, Turkey, Qatar, Germany, UAE, England, India, Spain, Singapore, and South Africa.
My best advice today is to take full and personal responsibility for your own engagement at work. Keep engagement simple with this 8 word definition: “good work done well with others every day.” There is no way to engagement, to engage is the way so focus on verbs and actions in your work rather than nouns and policies. Remember your ABC’s of engagement: Achieve Results, Build Relationships, and Cultivate Wellbeing. I invite you to engage along with me, the best is yet to be.