We all know that HR deals with a lot of paperwork. We learn the importance of documentation very early in our career. While taking care of our employees and companies is the most important item on our to do lists, there is one thing I think HR professionals, and especially HR Newbies, should always be mindful of and trying to achieve: continuing education.
There are always new laws and policies being put in place, and it’s our job to know them – or at least know how to find out about them. Luckily continuing your education doesn’t necessarily mean sitting in a classroom, paying a huge tuition fee and collecting more degrees. There are so many opportunities for HR professionals to continue growing in their field, no matter where we stand currently.
Over the past month, there have been a few HR pros on Twitter, myself included, asking what steps should HR Newbies take to move forward in their career, after obtaining their first degree. There are options available to all of you, no matter what degree you have and no matter what your learning style is. As someone currently enrolled in an HRM Master’s program, I can honestly say I would not recommend taking this route to an HR Newbie, unless this is the best way you learn.
Here are a few options for continuing your education and learning more about how to help your employees, your company, and yourself in HR.
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There are 2 main certification routes for HR professionals in the USA. SHRM-CP/SHRM-SCP and HRCI have a few different certifications designed for different levels of education and experience. All of them require a lot of studying, time, and money – but they’re worth it. I would have definitely went this route instead of going straight back to school for my Masters had I researched the programs and made sure to meet the requirements. You can learn more about the certification offerings and process here.
This is a quick and easy way to continue your education. I normally have a webinar going on my computer while I’m working, with a piece of paper next to me. Even if I’m working on something else, a piece of information might catch my attention and I’ll write it down to come back to it later. There are a lot of free webinars to take advantage of when you get a chance (including here on Workology). Search for HR webinars on the SHRM website, HR and law blogs as many of these are eligible for your SHRM and HRCI certification. The number of ways to access webinars are endless at this point. Seek and you shall find!
Podcasts are my on-the-go method of learning, while driving, cooking dinner (or attempting to exercise). You can turn on a podcast and clean the entire house while learning – can’t beat that. Workology is one of the best sites for podcast resources, but you can also search for HR podcasts on Google and hundreds of lists will come up. Just find ones with the information you need, whether its recruiting, engagement, or HR basics, and make sure you can actually listen to this person talk. Unfortunately, not everyone has the kind of voice that keeps people awake and listening.
This option is a little different from the others, but ultimately, it’s the most important. Even if you have an HRM and two certifications, you still need to find a way to get real experience. Internships, assistant jobs, front desk jobs – all of these are good ways to get you into the office and show that you want to learn more about HR. If you get along with your HR Manager, they might be willing to give you a few pointers or tasks that don’t require as much confidentiality, which is a great way to build confidence.
I’ll also add that just getting out and talking, online or in person, to other HR professionals and newbies is essential. Instead of silently suffering through something alone, reach out to people. I sometimes post questions on my Twitter account to get help with a problem, or just because I heard about something but never experienced it personally and want to know more, and the community has always been willing to share their experience with me.
Blogs and Books
Reading can be your best friend in HR. Yes, we’ve discussed podcasts and webinars, but sometimes you have to go back to the basics and pick up a book. I have a bookshelf full of HR books I haven’t been able to finish, but I still find valuable. Sometimes I’ll start one and then pick up another – do what you can on your own time. Even if I don’t currently have the time to read them, I still like to reach out and ask for book recommendations for when I do have time.
Your HR continuing education doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg and it doesn’t all have to happen right now, but make sure you’re always working on it, somehow and some way!
What are some ways you’ve found helpful advancing your HR/business knowledge?