Career Confessions of an HR Professional

A look into the HR Profession

Hi, I’m Bryan and I’m a recruitment marketer. Hopefully, I didn’t need to stand up in front of the group while I confessed that. Having been in the HR field for over 8 years, I am approached almost daily by both active job seekers, and by people in my network about simply advancing their career. They want to know what’s next and how they can prepare for it.

Here’s My Career Confession. What is Human Resources?

Many of these folks are in the human resources and recruiting function. You read that right, a huge percentage of my network is built by connections in the human resources and recruiting space. It’s no secret that it’s hard to break into or grow in HR.  And we need some help.You’ve heard that the doctor’s kids are always sick and the cobbler’s children are the ones walking barefoot. To put it in modern terms, the social media “expert’s” Facebook page tends not to have a huge number of fans, and we wonder why. Everyone is too busy helping others (re: paying clients).

Nowhere is this more evident to me than the career management strategy of your typical human resources generalist, manager, director, chief-cook-and-bottle-washer.

Surprisingly, most issues can be averted or solved through better communication and perspective:  1) Better job descriptions can yield candidates with culture fit, 2) Well-articulated process/regulation changes can lead to user-adoption and fewer lawsuits, and 3) Accurate resumes and profiles can lead to productive career (hiring) conversations.

Let’s assume we were all nodding our heads during at least one of those. Now we can jump into the three main areas of career management where I’ve seen so many people fail to reach their potential.

What to Do When HR’s Looking for a Career Change

When we’re looking for a job or the next step in our career, we seem to forget the advice we dole out to others in our recruiting duties.

  • Ÿ  Destination – Where do you want to go professionally? Do you want to be a VP or CHRO? This should drive all of your other efforts.
  • Ÿ  Audience – Who should you be talking to? What sort of roles and companies attract those people? Think about the personal or offline details as well.
  • Ÿ  Resume/Profile – Is it customized based on your destination? Is it focused on achievements and measurable goals? Remember that a recruiter behaves like a prized rodeo steer. You have maybe 8 seconds before your resume is kicked to either the “Yes” or “No thanks” stack. Simple articulation is key.
  • Ÿ  Active Network – Are you building connections with people who can help your search, or people who can help your career? Think about roles that are stepping stones to your destination.
  • Ÿ  Story – what conveys your perspective and your history? This is a branding statement about YOU. Got a social aggregator? Try a free account to organize your efforts.

Stepping Back or Forward in Your HR Career. Is Human Resources a Good Career?

Once we have a new job, we often get consumed by our day-to-day deliverables. Don’t forget to step back to see how the dots connect.

  • Ÿ  Active Networking – Do you frequent industry events or happy hours and foster relationships that you don’t need just yet? Trust me, people notice.
  • Ÿ  Career Progression – Which roles within your organization are more conducive to your destination? Are they built on your strengths?
  • Ÿ  The CEO Hat – We wear lots of hats, but which ones align us more with the objectives of the business? Using your exposure to the entire organization can help you connect people who can help each other. Delegation is an admired skill, right?

Landed a Job?  Your Work in the Job Search Isn’t Over

  • Ÿ Communications – Yes, there’s social media, but I’m also talking about internal wikis, intranets and engagement programs. How are you communicating to the team and to your organization, what is accomplished? Are you keeping track of the line items that will end up on your resume?
  • ŸConferences – Yes, attending most of these requires budget. And they are not all worth their price. But sticking with your own clique should be left on the playground. Check out the attendee list and pick three people to meet who have held roles that you aspire to achieve. It’s not comfortable, but it can be done.
  • ŸCertification – Is a PHR, MBA, CIR or other TLA right for your ideal destination? Don’t forget to promote your knowledge on your business cards and social profiles.

We all have rotating hat racks next to our desks, be they digital or mahogany.  You can wear your personal brand fedora, alongside your company’s employment brand top hat. If you can remember which hat you’re wearing, it will keep you focused on the message and focused on your destination.Please just remember which hat you’re wearing in that LinkedIn picture. Before you post it.

In the Austin, Texas area?  Check out Austin’s Career Connects event specifically for HR professionals who are interested in mapping out their human resources career strategy.  The event is September 27, 2012.  Tickets and more information are available.

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Bryan Chaney

Bryan Chaney has used his marketing passion to craft recruiting solutions and connect with candidates since 2004. As a Talent Attraction Strategist, he currently heads up employment branding and social media for corporate recruitment at Aon, the global leader in Risk, Reinsurance and Human Resources.


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