I was chatting with some friends recently about career planning as an HR professional and advice we’d give to other HR people, including those just starting out. It all got me thinking. I think about my career development a lot — I’m a thinker, I get ideas, I make plans … and then I want to update my rolling career plan and come up with new actions. Surprisingly — I think about others’ career development a lot. The way that people move between jobs, companies, and careers has always fascinated me. Also, as an HR person, I’m always giving out career advice — even if not to people at my company – people from organizations that I’m a member of, friends, friends of friends will ask for tips. I feel that sometimes as HR people, we don’t eat our own dog food. We can advise others but then have trouble applying those learnings and practices to ourselves. It could be a case of “the therapist can’t do therapy on himself,” but I find it all very fascinating. One friend said her approach is to “just let things come together” where as my approach is to plan, strategize, and then take action to get to my goal. I started to think about what what things we had in common when it comes to planning and advancing our careers. There are a few things that we’re both doing.
Letting Things Come Together is Not Kicking Back and Waiting for Things to Happen
Some may think that the approach of “just letting things come together” might mean to just kick back and wait for the good things to come to you. Sorry guys, doesn’t work that way — there is no promotion fairy. However, there is a skill of understanding where the company or organization is moving and skills sets that might be needed. I’d argue that people who let things come together are actually reading the landscape and understand how they may fit into the larger picture. While they do not have a particular job or role in mind, they are still being very strategic about the opportunities that are available or may be in the future. They have a good understanding of how they may fit into those opportunities — as well as their skill set, and where they may fit in.
Get on With Your Bad Self — Keep Your A-Game Up
I think that this is self explanatory, but I’m always surprised at how often it is overlooked. Kinda hard to say that you’re ready for promotion with new and/or larger scope if you’re not knocking your current job out of the park. While it’s important to keep your eye on what the future may hold for your next career move, make sure that you’re current work is top notch. Consistently hitting the mark with your assignment says that you are ready for more. Don’t overlook the importance of being a consistent A-player. It doesn’t mean that you have to do something new if you don’t want to. It may even mean larger scope or bigger projects. Either way — its nice to have the choice.
Up Your Skills: Understand the Company Lingo
The higher you go in the company or organization — the more interactions that you have with leaders outside of HR increases. Keeping up your HR functional knowledge (or picking up new HR skills) is a given. Don’t dismiss the value of understanding more about your company’s business. Learn to understand their language– translate it into HR to get your work, strategy, and plan– and then communicate it back to them in their language. Only HR people speak HR. Expand your palate and learn all you can about the your company’s or business. Stay on top of industry trends and news — and picking up a *solid* knowledge in finance and accounting statements is always helpful. I know that some of you are saying, “I don’t want to be the Chief People Officer, why do I need to know anything but HR stuff?” I’d argue, regardless of position, knowing about your company’s core business, understanding company financials never hurts. It makes you a stronger HR professional. It gives you credibility with employees and managers — at all levels of the organization. Plus — we’re talking about career advice for moving up the ladder– mastering these skills gives you choices. Choices are good!
What’s your HR career advancement strategy?