HR Career Advice – Six Great Tips for HR Pros At All Levels
November 1, 2015

There’s an old proverb that says “Experience is the best teacher. But only a fool learns by no other.” With that in mind, we went searching for the most useful, actionable and specific HR career advice from HR veterans and practitioners from around the web. We were looking for advice that would be useful for the brand new human resources worker as well as the seasoned veteran – and we wanted information specific to the human resources professional.

6 Great HR Career Advice Tips 

1.) Find a way to say “Yes!” This was specific to a career in HR. HR and legal tend to be the groups that say “No you can’t do that”. HR professionals need to better problem solvers by understanding the needs of the business and finding a way to help solve the problem. If the solution proposed is not going to work, suggest something else that might work. It can be difficult, but worth the time and effort!  –Bonita Martin, via Women of HR.

2.) Start networking and building relationships outside of your company now. “The time for creating your new HR career is not the day you get downsized or when you decide it’s time to move on. You need to plan this months in advance. This planning is mainly because you need to grow your network first. In my case, I started networking 18-24 months in advance.” –Mark Griffin, founder, InHisNameHR.

3.) In the first 10 years of your career, try a lot of different things. Don’t overthink it. Experiment. Work in different companies. Be in a startup; be in a big company. Work for a branded company; work for somebody nobody’s heard of. Work for a nonprofit. You’re going to get a level of breadth that somebody who’s specialized won’t have.

Ten years in, by the time you’re around 30, you should declare your “major.” That’s when you decide here’s “what I want to be when I grow up,” and you specialize.

If you want to be a user interface designer, you’re going to be competing against a bunch of people who have been doing that for 10 years, and they’re a dime a dozen. You’re going to come in having done something like working for a historical society or having traveled the world, and you’re going to be different.

Because you’re different you’re going to have an advantage with the insight you can bring. The cool things are happening at the intersections of fields, not deep, deep, deep in a field — with a few exceptions.  –Laszlo Bock, Google, Senior Vice President of People Operations and author of Work Rules. 

4.) Set aside “ONE career hour” a week. If you’re busy doing your job, it’s easy to forget to spend some time managing your career. You might spend that hour…

  • Revising your resume to make sure it’s up-to-date
  • Enhancing your LInkedIn profile or requesting more endorsements to support that profile
  • Giving a presentation on your HR specialty at a lunch-and-learn training session to build your skills
  • Networking over coffee or dinner with someone who may someday offer or refer you to your next job.
  • Returning all those headhunter calls you’ve gotten to provide them with a referral – to keep that relationship going.    –Paul Sohn.

5.) Focus on your HR mission and core competencies. For example: “Give up payroll! In my early career, it felt good to be responsible for as many things as possible and build an HR Department as large as possible. At one point, there was a discussion about transferring Payroll from Human Resources to Finance and I was ready to fight. I spoke to a neutral professional I respected and his immediate advice was to give up Payroll, as it did not relate directly to core HR skills. I followed his advice. I did not regret it, and from that point on was more ready to relinquish functions that did not add value to HR and in some cases, may detract from our primary HR focus. –Ian Welsh, via HR Toolbox.

6.) Leverage technology. “Technology can do every single transaction in HR. So don’t allow tasks and administrative things to occupy your time and become the reason you can’t do great things in HR. Get technology to do all of this busywork so you can focus on real HR deliverables.” –Allan Collins, author of HR’s Unwritten Rules and Winning Big in HR. Via

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received as an HR professional? Leave a comment and let us know!