4 Ways To Create Your Own Luck & Advance Your Career in HR…

by Alan Collins

“Damn!  Another early morning HR presentation.”

That’s what Mike muttered under his breath as he slowly climbed out bed at 5 am.

He had given three presentations to different business groups around Miami.

And this would be the tenth one he’d given in the last year.

He was tired, but excited at the same time.

He had promised his good friend Cynthia, president of the local SHRM chapter, that he’d help her out.  She had lined him up yet again to give his presentation on: “The Top 10 Ways To Use Social Media To Attract Top Talent.”   

It was a hot topic and he’d given it many times and knew it cold – and HR folks loved it and him.

When he arrived, he slapped on a name tag and a smile, and walked in. He hugged Cynthia at the door and kidded her about the bad coffee and stale donuts.

She laughed and then introduced him to Pamela.

Pamela and Mike did the usual networking thing — What do you do in HR? How long have you done that?  I’m surprised you still have your sanity — and hit it off.  After Mike’s presentation, which impressed Pamela, they agreed to meet for coffee the following week.

During that coffee with Pamela, Mike mentioned he was looking for an HR director’s role heading up staffing and recruiting. He liked the gig he had, but felt promotional opportunities were limited and he was ready for the next step in his career.

It just so happened that Pamela knew Debbie, the new SVP of HR at another company.

Debbie was looking for someone with Mike’s experience to head up her newly formed talent acquisition group.

Pamela sent an email that raved about Mike and introduced him to Debbie.  Debbie checked Mike out on LinkedIn, and called him in for an interview. 

Three weeks later, Mike had a new job.  

Even though this example is fictitious, you and I both know that this isn’t unusual.  Situations like this happen all the time.

And some would say that Mike was lucky.

He just happened to know Cynthia…who knew Pamela…who knew Debbie, the new HR SVP.

That’s luck, right?     

After all, luck is when when all the stars align, and you happen to be the right person…in the right place… at exactly the right time to capitalize on career advancement opportunities.

However, Mike created his own luck.

Want to know how?

Mike gave all those HR presentations because his strategy all along was to… 

Be in the right place at the right time
a lot of times — knowing that he needed
just ONE of them to pay off.
 

And it worked.

Want to duplicate his success and create your own luck?

Then follow these four tips and make it happen:

Tip #1 — It’s not about the 100th chop, but the 99 before it.

There’s an old saying that if you chop a tree with an ax 100 times and the tree falls, it wasn’t the 100th chop that felled it, it was the 99 before it.

Translation: Don’t give up. If you haven’t had any luck, keep at it because you’re not done chopping yet. 

In Mike case, he gave his HR presentation ten times before he landed a better HR job.  If he had stopped at the ninth time, he would have stopped too soon.

The point:  Keep chopping at the tree.

It means getting to the office at 7, not 8. It means working until 6, not 5.  It means answering emails and work-related text messages at home.  It means listening to audio books to build your HR know-how during your commute. It means watching less TV and getting more HR projects done. And, it means doing it more times than anyone else.

Don’t stop too soon because you’re aiming for that 100th chop.

When I’m looking for new HR consulting clients, I pitch ideas over and over again until I find them.  I don’t stop until I’m done, and I’m not done until I’ve filled the few slots I’ve set aside. I don’t stop after 10 meetings or 20 emails. I don’t know when to stop…but I won’t stop until the slots are filled.

And sometimes I’ll need more than the that 99th chop.

Tip #2 — Meet more people. 

An unmarried buddy of mine last year set a goal to date 30 different women in a single year. His idea was he only needed to be right once.

He used various approaches.  An online match making service, meet ups with women at his church and yes, he even dated some colleagues in his organization under the radar.

You may question his tactics, but they worked.

He achieved his goal: he got married last month.

The same thing applies to your HR career.  Meet more people. Increase your coffees and lunches.  Stop hiding behind your laptop.  Don’t get so buried in the grind of your day job that you can’t reach out to increase your connections and relationships.  Let them know what you’re up to so they can pass the word on.

Here’s the most important point in all this…

The more people who know you, the more people
you have out there creating luck for you.

I can’t count the number of consulting projects, speaking gigs, and clients I’ve gotten unexpectedly because a friend told someone else about me.  At the same time, I’m not perfect.  I have also seen a definite dip in the numbers when I’ve make myself scarce for a couple months to get work done, so there’s a definite correlation.

Even in networking and building relationships, it’s all about chopping at that tree over and over again.

Tip #3 — Create a memorable pitch or story.

Years ago, Dan, an HR colleague of mine was laid off in a restructuring of the labor relations department.  He developed a story went something like this:

Quaker Oats labor attorney with 10 years of experience negotiating against the Teamsters is now available to negotiate labor contracts that are cost-competitive — without strikes or business disruptions.

That was his simple message.  It was specific (e.g. labor relations attorney, negotiating labor agreements, Teamsters, cost-competitive) and he had over twenty different stories he could mesmerize you with to back all this up.

He’d give his pitch and tell his stories to just about everyone he knew.

Some were humorous, some were dead serious.  But all were compelling.

Eventually, someone he shared them with let him know about an opportunity that changed his life.

He wound up as vice-president of labor relations for one of one of the largest divisions at Exxon.

The point:  People love a good story. If yours is clear, compelling and makes sense, they can pass it on to others eventually landing with someone who can create more luck for you…and help your career ambitions come true.

Tip #4 — Finally, be ready for luck to find you.

This is where all that preparation and hard work comes into play.  That’s where all your meetings, presentations, your networking, your contacts finally help you land the opportunity you’re looking for.

You’re not caught off-guard by this new opportunity.

You were expecting it.

Because that was the 100th chop.

And it all paid off.

Just like you planned.

Onward!

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Your feedback is welcomed. Please click HERE to add your comments below.

Want more strategies that will help you make your own luck, then check out: WINNING BIG IN HR: 100+ Powerful Strategies For Accomplishing Great Results Faster & Getting Your Clients To Rave About You As A Human Resources Professional!   You can download additional FREE excerpts from the book by going HERE.

About the author: Alan Collins is Founder of Success in HR, Inc. and the author of a variety of best selling books for HR professionals including WINNING BIG IN HR.  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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12 Responses to “4 Ways To Create Your Own Luck & Advance Your Career in HR…”

  1. Priya Says:

    Thanks for sharing such a nice article, I personally think its true and very much applicable and today it is the need of this kind of luck in everybody’s day to day life,.

  2. wilbroad Katema Says:

    Hi Alan, another set of amazing tips! Just great, really appreciate the stuff, please keep them coming! I am a luck victim of of “keeping chopping” and “good connections and being at the right place and the right time” so i do know exactlly what the tips mean!

    Thanks

  3. Oladapo Says:

    Nothing ventures, nothing wins. Keep working at it. Thanks Alan.

  4. Lana El Moustrah Says:

    Thank you Alan. This what happened with me to get my first abroad job while meeting someone at HR discussion group. It is really practical way to grab the opportunity when you ready to go.

  5. Lucien D. Says:

    Thanks for the encouragements, Alan.
    … i chop and chop and will keep chopping!

  6. Buks Says:

    Good write up Alan. Precise.
    People usually appreacite referrals most of the time. The other side to this is that one becomes a conduit for open roles and helps other people too!

  7. Janis m Says:

    Thanks. This worked for me. I started seriously looking for a job 6 months ago. Tons of interviews where I was told I was overqualified and made too much money. I applied for a two level promotion and was told I didn’t have recent experience in the area. One of the persons that conducted my first interview (not the hiring manager) connected with me. 30 days later he had a position open and I applied. Needless to say I got the Director role I wanted and I start Monday. Yes I got discouraged but I kept on putting my resume out and interviewing!

  8. Alan Says:

    Fantastic, Janis! Congrats on landing your new Director gig! -Alan

  9. Damola Says:

    Well done Alan,really true and insightful. I think it was directed at me, I need to really get out there and stop hiding behind my laptop to meet greater network of opportunities and people like you!

  10. Nahid Says:

    It really works. You just need to keep patience and do your level. Luck definitely comes to you with a good pay. Thanks for sharing this Alan.

  11. Emelia Says:

    Very Informative Alan. I have also benefited from the comments shared.

    I believe i am on the right path towards practicing my HR career. I will keep digging and digging till my preparation meets a perfect opportunity.

  12. Yoon Siew Fei Says:

    Fantastic article Alan! Not many people realize the important of being consistent during the 99 chop and often being perceived as unnecessary. Very well done Alan!

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