Decades ago, human resources was primarily seen as a "paper pusher" role. HR professionals considered as hiring and firing; they kept employee records and personnel files; they fielded the occasional employee or manager complaint. Today, HR departments are much more dynamic, playing an essential role in a business's long-term talent development strategy.
Despite all the different hats HR can wear, this department's primary task is helping an organization's most valuable asset: its people. Before you start your career in human resources, you'll want to thoroughly understand the core requirements of the industry and what functions you'll be expected to perform.
1. Fully Understand the 'Human' Side of Human Resources
Compliance and policies aside, HR professionals must focus on the human aspect of HR, the part that requires them to read souls, balance a cast of personalities, speak different emotional and professional languages, and strategically place people where they can be the most effective. Don't forget the importance of resourcefulness. Get creative with people problems unique to your company.
2. Think About Your Legacy
The best HR leaders solve business goals by knowing the business as owner, and leading your conversations with both data and passion for people. You can leave a legacy through empathy and truly caring about the people you serve.
3. Be Inquisitive, Strategic and Credible
HR will offer you tremendous opportunities to make a difference in the success of your organization and lives of its people. Build your worth and credibility not just as a service oriented professional, but as a strategic thinker and partner to the firm's leadership. Be inquisitive, think globally, ask questions and know your industry. You will surely have a very rewarding career.
4. Trust and Respect are Key
Every interaction matters. You're either building trust and respect, or tearing it down. If you're able to build trust and respect with everyone (leadership, management and employees), you'll be viewed as a helpful partner and truly able to make a difference in the organization and lives of others.
5. Understand The Realities Of HR
HR is oftentimes very transaction and administrative. HR generally does not have employees visiting their office daily. If employees are in the HR office, they are not doing their job. HR's role is to make certain the right policies, procedures, training and benefits are in place to help employees remain productive, engaged and motivated.
6. Know That You'll Need To Serve As An Unbiased Business Partner
Strategic HR professionals are trusted advisers who can influence and drive change. Start by learning what to share with whom and when. Your ability to be consistent, fair and approachable will build meaningful relationships. That will strengthen your proficiency in driving company initiatives and delivering results that are needed within the business.
7. Take Advantage Of Every Opportunity You Have To Develop Your Career
Find a mentor and coach who is a human resources leader. Join a professional organization to learn best practices and increase your network. Develop a good relationship with the business leaders and employees that you support to understand the company operations and employee issues. Add value to the business: Be a business partner, an employee champion and a change agent.
8. Stay Humble
We are all excited at the start to run and do our own thing. The best lessons are learned by walking. We do that by listening to our leaders and becoming our own best self. A new HR professional needs to be humble.
9. Take Your Time
Take your time, make mistakes, be accountable and remember you are human. You are not superhero and you can’t solve all problems of the world. You had a lot to learn: HR is not black and white, You didn't have all the answers and you would make mistakes along the way. All of this helped you grow and develop in your career.
10. Be Mindful of Who You are Being and Becoming
First, choose a career path where your passion and strengths can be a value add to the organization. Second, choose an organization that aligns with your values. At the core HR is about marketing an organizational brand so you must have aligned values. Finally, as you go about the business of doing to achieve, be mindful of who you are being and becoming.
11. Find Your Avenue
Not all HR positions are created equal. While HR at one company might entail a range of HR duties, another company will have an HR team where duties are split up. Research the different areas of HR — employee relations, benefits, payroll, etc. — and see which interest you most. Get clarification on all job responsibilities and always define your boundaries as HR.
12. Make Sure You're Here For The Right Reasons
The primary reason for pursuing a career in HR is because you love helping people. While there are a number of roles that fall under the HR umbrella, their common reason is the desire to work with and help others. Since this will be a prerequisite for every HR job, if it doesn’t provide you with some sense of satisfaction, it’s probably best to choose another field.