How To Endanger Your HR Career By Making Rip Van Winkle Mistakes…

by Alan Collins

You may remember the story of Rip Van Winkle.

He was was the fictional character in the famous short story who went to sleep before the American War of Independence.

Weary one night, as the tale goes, Rip put his head down for just a moment.

And he stayed asleep for 20 years.

When he woke up, he missed the war, the death of his wife, the marriage of his daughter and the birth of his grandson.

He had no clue where all the time went.

This can happen to you too as an HR professional.

You can lay your head down for a moment, only to look up years later to find out everything has changed around you.  And you’ll wonder where the heck the time went.

And that’s exactly what happened to a coaching client of mine.

She was perfectly happy in her HR job and, like Rip Van Winkle, woke up and came in office one day to discover that…

Her worst fears had been realized! 

Her company that day abruptly announced that they would be removing 3,000 jobs over the next year.

Because of rapid changes in microchip technology, they were now producing outdated products and had to cut costs.  However, just two years ago, this company was category leader in chips.  Now they were going to have to fight for survival.

My client was stunned.

She was single, in her late-thirties, bright with a graduate degree in HR. She had invested fourteen years of her young professional life in that company as a senior compensation analyst. One job. Exact same company. In other words, she had one year’s experience fourteen times, which is much too long if you want a career, as opposed to a job.

Anyway…

She had been with them since their beginning as a tiny start up and through their IPO.

But she had become pigeon-holed as a compensation specialist, at the top of her pay grade with no opportunities for advancement.  No one in her company could envision her in any other role so transferring to another HR job was out of the question.  All of this made her a prime target to be whacked from the organization…and she knew it.

She admittedly was caught flat-footed with the company announcements. And because she worked so hard at her day job, she hadn’t developed industry contacts outside of her organization.  Because of this, it was almost impossible for her to get an interview anywhere.

“What should I do?” she asked me over coffee, not expecting me to help her find a job, but perhaps provide some advice.

As it turned out, I knew of a job. But it wasn’t a good one.

One of my former colleagues, now an HR executive in a smaller division of PepsiCo, had a need for a compensation analyst for a massive six-month project. Their tiny staff was tremendously overworked and they needed help from a compensation pro. So I called her with the news.

“There is a short-term assignment I just heard about,” I said.

“They could use you.  The team is based 200 miles away, so you’ll need to get an apartment close by.  But I’m not going to lie to you. People are working twelve hours a day and all stressed out with a huge deadline to hit. The pay is decent. But there’s absolutely no guarantee that it will lead to anything long term.”

“Okay. If those are the good points, are there any downsides to this job?” she said.  At least she hadn’t lost her sense of humor!

I was honest with her: “I know this isn’t an ideal situation and it’s a huge risk.”

“But the big advantage to this job is it gets your foot in the door.  It keeps a paycheck coming in.  And allows you to still explore the job market. It will also eliminate a potential gap in your resume should you get laid off and fail to find a job.”

“Another thing, even though there are no promises, if you wow them, there’s a tiny chance they could offer you a full-time position.  And my advice is: if they do, take it.   Stay there twenty-four months.  Then you can put a great company name like PepsiCo on your resume and sell having comp experience in a world class company.  With that, you can go anywhere in your career.”

And that’s exactly what she did.

It was tough, but she was able to negotiate a severance package with her old company.  Then she left before all the job cuts and bloodletting there happened and never looked back.  The six-month assignment DID turn into a full-time gig and she vowed never again will fall asleep at the switch again.

Clearly, every situation doesn’t wind up like this one.

Everyone makes career mistakes. Our careers in HR can last thirty, forty, fifty or more years if we’re fortunate. That’s a long time. And you’re bound to make some mistakes along the way.

However, it’s important to avoid making Rip Van Winkle mistakes if you can.  And these occur when you:

  1. Stay too long at one company.
  2. Stay too long in one HR job.
  3. Fail to keep your HR skills and competencies up to date.
  4. Fail to build, grow and cultivate your network of contacts.

Don’t fall asleep on these things.

Regularly monitor and candidly assess these four facets of your career at a minimum every six months. Then make changes before they’re needed.

Otherwise, you may arise from bed one morning and find out that YOUR world has completely changed.

Consider this your wake-up call.

Onward!

Thoughts, reactions and additional tips to share?  Provide them in the comments below by clicking HERE.

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Want more strategies for avoiding career-ending mistakes in Human Resources?  Then check out:  UNWRITTEN HR RULES: 21 Strategies For Attaining Awesome Career Success in Human Resources featuring FREE EXCERPTS that can be downloaded HERE.

About the author: Alan Collins is Founder of Success in HR and the author of a variety of best selling books for HR professionals  including UNWRITTEN HR RULES.   He was formerly Vice President – Human Resources at PepsiCo where he led HR initiatives for their Quaker Oats, Gatorade and Tropicana businesses.

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Brutally Candid Feedback: Why It’s Crucial To Your Success in HR…

by Alan Collins

As a kid, I remember my mom rubbing antiseptic ointment onto my bloodied knee after falling off my bike.

“It hurts!” I sobbed.

“That means it’s working,” she said wisely.

Sometimes what’s good for you hurts a little too. And getting brutally candid feedback about your job performance is one of those things.

Feedback can be uncomfortable and often stings.

It’s never easy hearing it, even if it’s constructive. Some people fear getting the direct, unsugarcoated, “in-your-face” brand of honesty. Their egos get in the way of digesting it and acting on it.

However, if you want to advance your career in HR, getting this kind of feedback is absolutely indispensable.

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4 Simple But Deadly Career Mistakes HR Folks Make on LinkedIn — That Can Be Corrected In Minutes!

By Alan Collins

LinkedIn recently went over 300 million active users.

And in my view that makes it the #1 online career advancement tool for HR professionals.

Hands down.

Nothing else even comes close.

Estimates of professional participation in LinkedIn range as high as 83%.  So it’s the place to be if you’re in any profession, but especially if you’re in HR.

But if you’re like a few HR folks, you may be making four very simple, but costly mistakes in using it.

Here they are…

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How To Rebound From Missed Career Opportunities in Human Resources…

by Alan Collins

“Are you crazy?”

That was Art’s reaction when his close friend, Walter tried to convince him to buy some vacant land.

And who could blame him. After all, this land was located 25 miles off the main highway.

And there was absolutely nothing there — besides a few trees, a broken down fence and couple of horses grazing.

However, Walter begged Art to reconsider.

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HR Resume Bullet Points — 3 Reasons Why Yours Suck & Prevent You From Getting Interviews

by Alan Collins

20 seconds.

That’s all the time it takes to lace up your workout shoes.

That’s all the time it takes to gargle once with mouthwash.

That’s all the time it takes to leave a brief voice mail message.

And, according to CareerBuilder, twenty seconds is all the time your resume has too…

If you want it to impress a time-strapped recruiter who is swamped with them!

On average, recruiters get 500 resumes for a typical HR position. So they review them fast. To make the cut, yours needs to attract attention immediately.

And this is where the bullets points in your resume come in.

Your bullet points are eye candy.

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Dealing With Headhunters — When You’re Busy and NOT Interested in Changing HR Jobs

by Alan Collins

It’s Friday.

You’ve been working tirelessly all week on a major, game-changing HR project.

Exhausted, you take a break to listen to your voicemail.

One message is from a headhunter (recruiter) who wants to talk to you about a “fantastic HR job opportunity with great upward potential at a mid-sized new tech start-up.”

After listening to the message, you decide you won’t be calling him back and you resume working on your project.

A few hours later, just before you leave for the weekend your phone rings.

Without looking at the caller ID, you pick up. You immediately recognize the voice on the other end. It’s the same headhunter that left you that earlier voicemail. He wants to talk.

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The World’s Best Advice For Advancing Your Career in Human Resources

by Alan Collins

Looking high and low for the best advice for advancing your career in HR? 

Find it right here!

If you’re a Human Resources professional looking to take your career to the next level, the books below are perfect for YOU.

They also make great gifts to members of your HR team or your HR colleagues.

Most can be ordered at Amazon and delivered to your doorstep in the next 1-2 days.

Many are available for your kindle as well.  Enjoy!

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For the super-busy HR professional, WINNING BIG IN HR: 100+ Powerful Strategies For Accomplishing Great Results Faster & Getting Your Clients To Rave About You As A Human Resources Professional! is like having your own personal coach at your disposal.

You can purchase this book from Amazon or download FREE excerpts by going HERE.

Can be delivered in 1-2 days.   Also available for your kindle.

 

 


For the person who wants to take their HR career to the next level or who aspires to become a human resources executive, UNWRITTEN HR RULES: 21 Strategies For Attaining Awesome Career Success in Human Resources is an absolutely must-have blueprint for success.

You can purchase this book from Amazon or download FREE excerpts by going HERE.

Can be delivered in 1-2 days.  Also available for your kindle.

 

 

Packed with inspirational HR quotes, short stores and  meaty career tips, BEST KEPT HR SECRETS:  400 Most Powerful Tips For Thriving At Work, Making Yourself Indispensable & Attaining Outrageous Success in Human Resources will help the HR professional stay on top of their game and a provide a constant source of motivation they’ll refer to often.

You can purchase this book from Amazon or download FREE excerpts by going HERE.

Can be delivered in 1-2 days.  Also available for your kindle.

 

 

For the HR professional in the job market, HR RESUME SECRETS:  How to Create An Irresistible Human Resources Resume That Will Open Doors, Wow Hiring Managers & Get You Interviews! provides step-by-step guidance for landing their next interview and finding that next HR position faster.

You can purchase this book from Amazon or download FREE excerpts by going HERE.

Can be delivered in 1-2 days. Also available for your kindle.

 

 

Want to discover how to capitalize and make more money from your HR expertise?  Then YOUR HR GOLDMINE: How To Turn Your Human Resources Know-How Into A Lucrative Second Income…Without Leaving Your HR Day Job!  reveals inside secrets for making this happen.

You can purchase this book from Amazon or download FREE excerpts by going HERE.

Can be delivered in 1-2 days.  Also available for your kindle.

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HR Professionals: How You Can Survive Being Merged or Acquired By Another Company…

by Alan Collins

When Google bought Motorola, it laid off 11,000 people.

When Fedex bought Kinkos, it got rid of 9,500 people.

After AOL bought the Huffington Post, 900 people got pink slipped.

When Microsoft bought Nokia, it put 18,000 people on the street.

And many of those let go were HR professionals.

But what’s even worse is that these just a few examples!
Large companies acquire smaller ones hundreds of times globally every year.  And chances are if you haven’t been involved in one of these situations yet as an HR pro, you soon will be.

With the volatile nature of the public stock market, companies are buying each other left and right like cheap antiques at an estate sale.  And when they do, corporate bloodletting happens and lots of unemployed bodies hit the street — especially those in HR.

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How One Simple 20-Page Report I Wrote One Weekend Completely Transformed My HR Career…

by Alan Collins

This was 2006.

A cold day in January.

I was attending a local SHRM meeting in a downtown Chicago hotel.

I’d paid $35 to attend a session on something to do with HR technology. Frankly, I don’t remember the exact topic.

However, down the hall from the SHRM session was a free seminar being put on called: “Creating Multiple Streams of Income in Your Spare Time.” I remember that title exactly.

Intrigued, I left the SHRM session, walked down the hall, snuck into this seminar instead and quietly took a seat in the back of the room to see what this was all about.

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The HR Resume I’ve Never Forgotten

by Alan Collins

I was recruiting at Purdue University, my alma mater.

This was ten years ago.

I’m on the last candidate of the day and I’m anxious to get the heck home.

His résumé is “very light” — no extra-curricular activities, no sports, no nothing. 

Essentially it says: Purdue, 3.2 GPA, Masters in Human Resources Management.

His work experience: Elliot’s Fine Dining, references on request.

After interviewing all day I’m exhausted.  I’ve seen all these top candidates come in strutting their stuff like peacocks. They’ve got 3.9 GPAs, extensive summer HR intern experiences and some have even studied abroad.

Impressive group.

And now, here comes this guy.

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