27 Ideas For Taking Your HR Career To The Next Level…

By Alan Collins 


Feeling stuck in place?

Unsure about your next move?

You’re not alone.

99.9% of HR pros will, at some point, experience one of these career roadblocks…often all three simultaneously.

When you feel this way, try asking yourself this question: 

What’s the ONE thing that I can do today that will help move my HR career to the next level more quickly? 

Then begin brainstorming.

To get you started, here are 27 different ideas for you to consider:

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1.  You could begin utilizing the services of an executive coach or superstar mentor to help accelerate your learning curve in a specific area within HR. 

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2.  You could identify 2-3 trusted advisors that you can really let your hair down with who you give permission to provide you with brutally candid career advice and feedback.

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3.  You could dramatically increase the number of your recommendations on LinkedIn to an obscene number like 50…and  simply blow recruiters and hiring managers away with the sheer number of testimonials and endorsements from others who think you’re great. 

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4.  You could begin to broaden your global 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.  International experience will increasingly become more desirable in our global economy and will differentiate you from the rest of the HR pack.

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5.  If you’re an HR generalist, you could stretch yourself by accepting a specialist assignment.

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6  If you’re a specialist, you could step out of your comfort zone and move into a generalist role.

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7. You could build your leadership skills by volunteering for task force assignments within HR or volunteer assignments outside of your organization. 

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8.  You could undertake a super-aggressive personal development plan to enhance your competencies in compensation, labor relations, managing projects and project teams, business finance….or the area identified by your boss on your last individual development plan.

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9. You could finally decide that you’re going to go independent as a consultant, coach, headhunter or HR entrepreneur.

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10. You could turn off the TV, unplug from Facebook and Twitter for three months…and really decide to your use your personal time more productively…let’s say by 10x.

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11 .  You could decide that you’re going to market yourself and showcase your HR talents more proactively inside your current organization, rather than sitting back hoping that someday someone will tap you on the shoulder. 

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12.  You could bury your ego and work harder to convert your boss into your absolute best career advocate by looking for opportunities to help them with THEIR priorities and build a reputation as being indispensable in their eyes.  You could do this even if they’re a total jerk.

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13. You could broaden your involvement in outside HR associations and business networks…or regularly have lunch with influencers who could potentially provide you with your next HR job.

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14.  You could make sure that your LinkedIn profile is up to date so that you are more “findable”  for job opportunities.

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15. If you write well, you could decide to package your HR experience by writing your own book, special report or article to promote your HR career even more.  Not sure where to start, check out Your HR Goldmine.

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16.  If you’re a decent presenter, you could put together a short presentation that showcases your HR expertise and positions you as an authority on that topic.  All it takes is nice power point deck on a project you’ve already completed.  Your presentation could be delivered at brown bag gatherings, lunch and learn meetings, webinars, local or national SHRM gatherings or turned into a YouTube video (minus any confidential information).

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17. You could give a lecture or teach an HR class at a local university.

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18. You could take some uncomfortable steps to lose your “lone ranger” persona and begin surrounding yourself with HR folks who are playing a bigger game than you are…in order to help move your OWN game upwards.

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19.  You could begin to take steps to increase the size of your network or begin reaching out to your existing contacts prevent these relationships from going stale. 

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20. You could begin to take steps to increase the number of HR headhunters that know you by name.

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21.  You could re-read Unwritten HR Rules, Winning Big in HR.  Best Kept HR Secrets or Your HR GoldmineI don’t care which one.  Just pick one and read it again.  Then commit yourself to two action steps to propel your career forward. 

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22.  You could decide to start your own HR blog.  Not sure how to get started?  Follow the guidance in this step-by-step guide.

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23. You could start your own group on LinkedIn and position yourself as a thought leader in your own specialty within the HR world. 

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24. You could decide to 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.  Not sure how to do this, then check out: Your HR Goldmine. 

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25.  You could decide to become an officer in your local SHRM chapter or HR association.  It’s a terrific way to expand your contact network, stay up to date, grow your career and give back to the profession. 

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26.  You could decide that you’re finally going to attain HR certification.  Though the jury is still out on the value of a PHR, SPHR or GPHR…it isn’t in my mind.  Putting those initials behind your name credentials you, will jack up your confidence and self-esteem…and is kind of cool.

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27.  You could find a quiet spot, take some time, and figure out what REALLY makes you distinctive in the HR career marketplace.  Then come up with a clear answer to the question: “Why should any organization promote or hire you rather than every other ‘result-oriented, HR leader’ out there?”  

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I guarantee that no matter where you are in your HR career, there is at least ONE item from this list that you can take action on right now to move your career forward.

So why not pick ONE and commit yourself to it. 



Anything resonate with you from this list?

Please add your comments or additional ideas HERE.

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Want a more comprehensive strategies that keep you inspired, motivated and on top of your game in HR?

Then check out: STAY INSPIRED IN HR: 21 Positive Reminders To Keep You Motivated, Encouraged, Confident & Committed To Success in Human Resources.  Get more details 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. 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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17 Responses to “27 Ideas For Taking Your HR Career To The Next Level…”

  1. Gaurav Says:

    Good guidance. Will you please take time to elaborate more on pt. 12. How to deal with jerk bosses? you know ones like Mr. totally insecure, Mr know it all, Mr. Carpet for his Boss, etc.

  2. anna Says:

    Guarav,thanks for articulating pt.12 so well.
    Kudos to pt.27 for making this a defining moment for me!The article is a great resource and am printing this for day to day referal.Thank you Allan.

  3. Alan Says:

    Guarav, great question. Would take an entire article to fully respond. However, here are a few quick tips. First, from painful experience, I’ll tell you what I would NOT do…I would not try to change your boss. That’s like trying to change a spouse once you’re married – good luck with that! Instead, for Mr. Totally Insecure, you need to make him/her feel more secure…provide more data, take fewer risks, do everything you can to provide him/her with confidence in your decision-making. For Mr. Know It All, reinforce his “know-it-allness” — ask for his/her help, guidance, insight much more often…make him/her feel good about what they know. The key in all these cases is to adapt/leverage what they do well…if you want to convert them into an advocate.

    I’ll elaborate on all of the above in a future article.

  4. Loretta Marshall Says:

    Love, love, love this article. I can personally attest to #12 and 26. I had to prove and position myself for advancement through working extra hard at first without recognition. The promotion didn’t come from my Manager, nor his boss (VP) but it came from the President! And having PHR behind your name is not only cool, but a great boost to your self-esteem and confidence level. Great article.

  5. Lori Says:

    I am at this point in my career, and it is a very frustrating place to be in. I have decided that I need to really crack down on my Linked In profile, and decide what I really want to do. I want to attain a HR certification but working FT and being a FT mom and trying to balance family Cain be tricky.

  6. Leslie DeMerville Says:

    Great…thought provoking suggestions. I am “living” #17, teaching HR…”giving back” to Generation Y, as well as adult students. It’s highly rewarding. Recommend teaching to seasoned HR Generalists/Specialists.
    Leslie DeMerville, BSc,MSc, Labor Rels

  7. Arlete Falcão Says:

    Great guidance. I’ve been through a similar time passed very close when I found that dealt with the financial area. I invested aggressively in this career and now I am work as administrative and financial manager of various projects.Today I am very happy with the decision I made.

  8. Cecily Witt Says:

    Thank you so much for this article. I have been thinking about the things that I want to do and teaching part-time and a professional blog has been among my aspirations. I have no idea how to start a HR blog, but I have begun to apply for teaching positions online and in my local area.

  9. Anna Says:

    Excellent advice and inspiring!

  10. Constance Robert Ajayi Says:

    Many thanks for this very detailed information on how to progressive move up the ladder in HR.
    I am almost at my witt ends,now my company is suggesting i become the Operations manager,am beginning to wonder if really am not doing well as an HR manager,why the change?
    thank you.

  11. Laura Says:

    I can relate to this in a lot of different ways. I am just beginning this journey and feel overwhelmed with the situation I am currently in. I need to start somewhere and would like to read one of the recommend books. Which one would be a starting point for me? Also I would love to have a mentor, coach or superstar that is interested in working with me….any suggestions?

  12. Alan Says:

    Laura, thanks for your comments.
    I can certainly identify with the overwhelm.
    Would recommend “Unwritten HR Rules” as a starting point.


  13. EFREN UY Says:

    Prof Allan is really keen about HR. all his articles are really useful to practitioners in HR. this one is superb. It gave me hope to look upon in the future as Consultant to other companies and aspirant executives in HR. Thank you very much!

  14. Carlos in TX Says:

    Maybe it’s the timing but this is the best article that I’ve read all year. Thank you, Mr. Collins, for your exceptional insight!

  15. Bill Michalak Says:

    I get the idea of doing these kinds of things to improve your marketability, but I feel any such list is incomplete without something having to do with creating positive results, doing the job well and increasing your capabilities.

  16. הדברת נמלים Says:

    Good blog post. I definitely appreciate this site. Keep writing!

  17. Leena Says:

    Thanks Allan.
    Insightful & Helpful.