Career Management for HR (and everyone else)

This is advice for HR professionals in Wisconsin. And every other worker, in any field, anywhere.

Over the last several years, I’ve done quite a bit of HR recruiting in Wisconsin. And I’ve heard a number of complaints from employers about the HR talent pool in the dairy state. I’m convinced there is both a perception issue and some reality to this complaint, and that HR professionals may want to consider the following as they manage their careers.

The perception issue is basically a “cobbler’s children” one. Considering that many HR people recruit as part of their jobs, it seems ironic that they often have less than stellar resumes, as well as LinkedIn profiles that often look more like smoke screens than personal profiles. But it’s not really that surprising: most of the HR people I know are not big on self-aggrandizement and self-promotion. As an HR colleague once commented to me, “I went into HR to be as far away from sales & marketing as possible.”

The perception issue obscures a deeper, more serious concern. Wisconsin tends to be conservative in our ways, as do our HR people, most of whom are quite the opposite of job hoppers. With 20+ years under their belts, the typical local HR professional has worked at 1-3 employers, often in just one industry. During that time, their focus has been largely tactical, focusing on the core, traditional HR tasks — largely payroll, compliance, administration and employee relations.

There are many facets to HR, and many “outer edges” potentially touching almost every other operational area within a company (management, recruiting, organizational development, succession planning, elearning, leadership development, strategic workforce management, etc.). And things are changing quickly — look at the amazing pace at which HR and recruiting technologies are appearing and evolving, for example. At some employers, there are “HR” roles that involve big data, social media, predictive modeling, employer branding, gamification — all kinds of funky and interesting stuff. As an HR professional, how much of this peripheral and innovative experience do you have?

You can take one of two paths in your career. You can stick with a job/employer and hope you get the right experience to move up the ladder (or even remain employable). Or you can proactively manage your career to ensure that you get the diverse skills and progressive experience essential for an upwardly mobile career, not to mention job security.

Which path are you on?

by George Blomgren

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