by Alan Collins
It’s that time again.
2014 is upon us.
Now is the time to begin thinking about what you want to accomplish in the New Year.
Yes, right now.
But you shouldn’t just make any old kind of flimsy commitments.
Now’s the time to begin thinking about some REAL goals that can help you dramatically take your HR career to the next level…starting today!
Stuck for ideas? Not sure where to start?
I’m going to give you 25 goals to consider. Most of them are simple. A couple are completely out-of-the box. Many of them take some work. But all of them absolutely kick butt.
Pick two of them and start making things happen.
Here you go: 25 HR career goals — any one of which that will easily place you among the top 5% of all HR professionals.
1. Go get 20 recommendations on LinkedIn.
Want an edge when recruiters and headhunters check you out on LinkedIn? Want to make more HR job opportunities come to you? Then, dramatically increase the number of your recommendations on your LinkedIn profile. With 20 or more endorsements, you cannot help but blow hiring managers away with the sheer number of testimonials from people who are praising you to the hilt. (Note: While you’re at it, make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date).
2. Publish three articles this year in your HR specialty.
Get your name more broadly known and in print. Check out the article publishing requirements for HR Magazine, Workforce, and HR Executive. Or just put up a three articles on ezinearticles.com…it’s easy. Just make sure you include a two sentence bio about yourself at the end. Here’s an example.
3. Stretch yourself by moving into an entirely different HR role.
If you’re an HR generalist, deepen your expertise by accepting a specialist assignment in an area like compensation, staffing/talent acquisition or labor relations. If you’re a specialist, move into a generalist role supporting a business, client group or field organization. Step out of your comfort zone
4. Differentiate yourself by broadening your global experience.
Expand your HR experience by relocating out of the U.S. and accepting an international assignment (e.g. Brazil, Russia, India, China or elsewhere). If you are already in these countries, then accept a U.S. assignment. Yes, this is a major life, family and career move. However, HR folks with international experience are hugely desirable in our global economy — and will continue to be — and such experience WILL differentiate you from the rest of the pack and open up opportunities to take your career to an entirely new level.
5. Write your own HR book.
Nobody has time to read 300-page HR books anymore. Use this to your advantage. Put together a 60-80 page book on a project you’ve accomplished or a problem you’ve solved that appeals to other HR or talent management folks and you’ll become a rock star. If I can do it, anyone can. It won’t take you two years either. Want to get a book done faster than you ever imagined? Here’s how.
6. Develop a white paper on your HR specialty and aim to get it downloaded by 500 HR people.
Don’t have time to do a book, even a small one? Then, promote the crap out of your own unique HR brand with a 20-page white paper. Need an example or model to follow, look over this white paper here.
7. Speak at a local or national SHRM conference.
Giving talks on your HR area of expertise is one of the fastest ways to attract favorable attention from those who can help advance your career.The national SHRM conference speakers are selected a year in advance, so now’s the time to approach them for 2015. That’s a long time. So why wait? Local SHRM chapters are always looking for enthusiastic presenters with practical, real-world, in-the-trenches HR experience. Become that presenter.
8. Get an executive coach or superstar mentor.
Want to speed up your learning curve in a specific area within HR? Then don’t be a lone ranger. Get some help from an expert coach or mentor in that area. Can’t afford one? Don’t know anyone? No problem. As an alternative, surround yourself with 2-3 trusted colleagues that care about you that you can utilize as your personal Board of Directors. Make sure they are people who have been where you want to go. Or have experiences different than yours. Or who may be playing a bigger game than you are…in order to help move your OWN game upwards. Really let your hair down with this group. Give them permission to provide you with brutally candid career advice and feedback. Make commitments to them. Then ask them to hold you accountable. It works.
9. Shun the vampires.
You have vampires in your life. We all do. These are people that feed on negativity, shoot down your ideas and most of all, extinguish your desire to improve yourself. It’s tempting to evangelize them or to prove them wrong. However, this is food for them, merely encouragement. And it wastes your time.
They only respond to garlic. And the garlic you use is simple: shun them. Delete their email. Drop them from your social media accounts. Don’t attend meetings where they show up. Don’t buy into the false expectation that in an organizational democracy, every voice matters. Every voice does not. Only the voices that move your ideas forward, that makes them better, makes you or your clients better count. So shun those who feed on your failures.
I don’t care which one. But just pick one and re-read it. Then commit yourself to two action steps from either of these books to propel your career forward. Share this commitment with your spouse, significant other, trusted peer or BFF so they can hold your feet to the fire.
11. Start your own HR blog.
Get some inspiration from the HR blogs of Laurie Ruettimann (a self-described failed HR professional and crazy cat lady), Chris Ferdinandi (an HR manager who works for EMC Corporation), and Suzanne Lucas (a corporate HR director known as the evil HR lady). Craft your own unique identity and use your blog to share your own HR insights and experiences and you’ll gain instant credibility. Not sure how to get started? Follow the guidance in this step-by-step guide.
12. Start your own group on LinkedIn.
Want to be perceived as a thought leader within the HR world or expand your LinkedIn network fast. Then creating your own group may be up your alley. Here are ten more benefits of starting up your own Linkedin group.
13. Give a lecture or teach an HR class at a local university.
Local universities, junior colleges or their extension campuses are always in the hunt for guest lecturers, instructors and part-time adjunct faculty members. Landing a college teaching gig can help you polish up your presentation skills and your confidence. Besides, you never know who is in your class and who knows whom.
14. Create a brown-bag lecture series.
Turn your lunch period into networking opportunities to showcase your knowledge. Take an HR-related skill that everyone needs (like doing performance appraisals or interviewing employees), an empty conference room and start teaching the ins-and-outs to others in your organization and you’ll become a hero. Want to extend your reach? Turn it into a webinar.
15. Coach and run Train-the-trainers on your brown-bag topic.
Take your brown-bag program and expand it by sharing your expertise one-on-one or by training others to do what you can do. Spreading your expertise in diverse ways helps spread your reputation in positive ways.
16. Turn your HR know-how into second income on side …while keeping your day job.
Just about any expertise you’ve picked up in your HR day job can be turned into extra income. All you need to do is to package your experience into a “product” and market it. This product could be one page tip sheets, a special report, a workbook, articles, instructor guides, paid presentations, webinars, workshops or at least 20 other things.
Why not start your own HR micro-business on the side with the goal to grow it slowly into something more significant in the future. Want more specific ideas, HR case examples and a step-by-step roadmap for doing this yourself without jeopardizing your day job in HR, then check out: Your HR Goldmine.
17. Become an officer in your local HR association.
Local HR associations abound. Besides your local SHRM chapter, there is NAAAHR, The OD Network, and ASTD to name a few. All turn over their officers every year. This is an opportunity for you to get involved in a leadership capacity. Volunteer to help increase their membership, put on programs, fundraise or manage their communications. It’s a terrific way to expand your contact network, stay up to date and give back to the profession.
18. Get a twitter account and attract 500 meaningful followers.
Twitter is all about sharing information with people who are important to you. Use it to put out interesting, relevant info for your followers. Post inspirational quotes or helpful HR tips. Provide links to interesting, relevant HR articles that will help others. In many ways, this is like having your own mini-blog…and is therefore an excellent way to attract more followers and establish yourself as an authority in your specialty within HR. For more information on how to best leverage twitter, go here.
19. Develop your own iPhone app for HR.
Admittedly this is an out-0f-the-box idea. iPhone apps continue to grow exponentially. So it’s not surprising that there are some very serious ones being developed to help job seekers and HR professionals.
- The “Hire Me!” app is geared to the potential job seeker.
- The “FollowUp — Personal CRM” app is designed to help you keeping up with your personal network of contacts.
- Career coach Deborah Brown-Volkman has transformed her coaching advice into an app called “Job Search Coach.”
- The “Interview Assistant Lite” is designed to help companies develop “a logical method for determining the potential benefits and problems when hiring.”
- The “Pay Stub Pal” or “Net Pay 2012” apps allow employees to track their own compensation, 401(k) contributions, and other elections affect their net pay.
- There’s even an “iHateMyJob” app that lets users “vent without ever having to say a word and get in trouble with your boss.”
Just about any routine HR activity can be turned into an app. Got a great HR idea you want to turn into an app, but you’re not a techie? No sweat. There are plenty of programmers and geeks around the globe on Elance.com anxious for you to put them to work dirt cheap. Lay out your HR idea and let them amaze you with the iPhone app they can design for you. It’s more affordable than you think and may become your new HR sidehustle. Like I said, out-of-the-box. But not beyond the realm of reality.
20. Start running your HR department as a profit center.
Start quantifying the value of your HR programs and share the results with your organization…and on your resume. For additional credibility, partner with your in-house Finance Comptroller on this initiative. For more information on this topic, check out this classic.
21. Bite the bullet and attain HR certification.
For some companies, the jury is still out on the value of an PHR, SPHR or GPHR…but not in my mind. I don’t have one. But I recognize its value in “credentializing” your HR expertise and differentiating you from others who don’t have it. Someday, it may become what the CPA is for Finance folks. Today, while it may not contribute directly to getting you promoted or landing that HR dream job, it definitely won’t kill your chances either. Besides, putting those initials behind your name is kinda cool.
22. Make yourself available as an HR expert for news stories.
If you’re an authority in a hot area of like health care cost containment, use of social media in HR or employee engagement, you are attractive to reporters who are writing stories on these topics. Reporters like to reinforce their stories with quotes from experts just like you. If this appealing to you, one service you might want to explore is PRLeads.com. While I can’t vouch for the service and it looks expensive, it just might be worth exploring.
23. Produce a series of YouTube videos on your HR specialty.
All you need is a video recorder (or good smart phone) and You Tube. Pat Goodman is a great example of someone who has produced an entire line of short HR-related videos on YouTube. You can check out one of her many videos here.
24. Contribute regularly to your company’s e-zine or newsletter.
Your in-house communications group is always looking for positive stories about your organization. They also tend to be always on deadline and understaffed. Volunteering to periodically provide them with a story or article for publication will provide you exposure and visibility inside your current firm.
25. Get off your duff and clearly define what makes you different.
Find a quiet spot, take some time, and figure out what REALLY makes you distinctive in the HR career marketplace? Come up with a clear answer to the question: “Why should I promote or hire you rather than every other ‘result-oriented, HR leader’ out there? Yes, it’s fine to be a jack of all trades, but you need to be a master of ONE — so, what’s yours?
Now that you’ve read over this list, what are you waiting for?
When someone asks you in 2014 what you’re working on in HR, will you be excited to tell them the answer?
I hope so. If not, you’re wasting away your career and don’t know it.
No matter what your HR gig is, no matter where you work, there IS a way for YOU to take a couple of these ideas (on your own, on weekends if necessary), to advance your HR career or to expand your impact on our profession.
Go make it happen.
Your feedback is welcomed. Please click HERE to add your comments or thoughts on this article…or to add any kick-butt goals that may have been omitted.
About the author: Alan Collins is Founder of Success in HR, Inc. and the author of the two HR best sellers, UNWRITTEN HR RULES and BEST KEPT HR SECRETS. His latest book, WINNING BIG IN HR is now available on Amazon. Alan 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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