Seven No B.S. HR Career Strategies Your Boss Definitely Won’t Tell You About!

by Alan Collins

None of these are startling revelations.  But they are blunt, un-sugarcoated reminders you’ll probably hear no one say in your organization…that you know in your heart to be true…

1.  You must always be looking.

Even if you already have a great HR job, if you don’t have a plan for getting your next HR gig all lined up, right here, right now, at this very moment, then you’re an idiot.   The only things you can count on now for certain are death, taxes, and reductions in force.   In today’s economy and in most company’s “short-term-live-and-die-by-stock-price-culture,” things change in an instant. You are one re-org away from being on the street.  You are just one job elimination away from being handed your pink slip.  You can be fairly sure  that your current HR job is probably not your last.  If you go to work tomorrow morning unprepared to leave that afternoon, then you have your head in the sand.  Always be mindful of the possibility that today could be your final day at your company.

2.  Loyalty is for your family.

Many companies try to foster a family environment to create loyalty to the organization.   And, it would be great if this loyalty were truly a two-way street and was sustainable.  It isn’t.  And, you and I both know it can’t be, if companies want to be competitive.  Some HR jobs are removed in an instant, without notice, if the company concludes that that role doesn’t help enhance the P&L – even though that family member was loyal.  Whether you or I agree with the principle of this doesn’t matter.  What matters is that it happens, and you shouldn’t let things get to that point.  By being too loyal to your company, you wind up being disloyal to those who matter most – your immediate family.

3.  Always have an updated resume posted online ready to go.

This ties in to #1.  LinkedIn is a great tool for doing this. You are on LinkedIn, right?  If not, do that right now.  If you need to be convinced, read this.  If you are on LinkedIn, make sure your profile is updated.  Your LinkedIn profile is a marketing tool. You never know who will come across your online resume, and you don’t want to miss a great opportunity.  Most savvy recruiters do keyword searches on LinkedIn long before cold calling candidates or spending a dime on anything else.  So you want to easily make yourself found.  Some HR people let their profile get out of date when they’re not looking for a job and that’s nuts.  If you’re not looking for work, you can let people know that after they’ve contacted you. Posting an updated resume online lets you continue to expand your network to prepare for your next job change.

4.  Visibility is not an official HR competency, but should be.

You must sell yourself and your HR accomplishments. Unless your boss knows you’re exceptional – and so does his boss – and anyone else who could be your next boss, you might as well be invisible.  And you have absolutely no shot at advancing your career or keeping your job when times get tough.  Just working hard and expecting that your results alone will be recognized, noticed, or will be appreciated guarantees one thing and one thing only: old age.  And focusing on doing what you do better than anyone else and trusting that that alone is enough, guarantees you one thing and one thing only: a long life laboring in oblivion.

5.  Grow your personal network.

HR job seekers have known for years that sending a resume to Monster is like sending it into a black hole.   Most recruiters will tell you that networking will deliver more job interviews to you than any other method.  Depending on your personality, networking is either a lot of fun or a lot of work.  If it’s work for you, have the discipline to start now. Building a network takes time, effort and sincerity.  Start taking people to lunch.  Start attending cocktails, dinners, and networking events. Set goals for yourself. For example: “I want to have a good conversation and exchange business cards with at least 3 people during this event.”

6.  GenX, it’s now your turn to lead the country…and HR.

As a baby boomer, it hurts me to say this.  But let’s face the facts.  Even though signs are that the economy IS improving, it’s still a mess.  We boomers got our country into this mess. We borrowed against future generations.  We mishandled SEC regulations.  We ignored the environment.  We set up a social security system that is going to dry up as soon as we’re done taking from it.  And we absorbed the best education this country had to offer, and then depleted the education system for the next generation. In the meantime, we will reward Generation X by enabling them to be the first generation in the US ever that will earn less than their parents. And we will saddle them with an incredible amount of debt pushing up their college costs and housing costs for their kids while taking their real wages down.  Some reward, huh?

Barack is the first Gen-X president. And, to the surprise of my fellow boomers who have been trash-talking Gen-X forever, he’s the only hope for bailing this country out of the mess we got us into.  GenX-ers, as you step into increasingly more HR leadership roles, his example offers some great HR lessons you can profit from.  Check them out here.

Oh yeah, I wonder who in HR put together the compensation design that resulted in obscene bonus payouts to low performing executives?  And now our the government has to step in an regulate things??  Are you kidding me.  Puh-lease.  Gimme a break.  GenX, you’re up.  GenY, you’re on deck.

7.  To really differentiate yourself from the rest of the HR pack, start a blog.

This ties to #4.  If you don’t already have a blog, stop reading this one and go start one right this minute.  If you need inspiration, check out HR blogs by: Kris Dunn, Michael Haberman, Lisa Rosendahl, Lance Haum or Angelique Kennedy. Your blog is your living resume. It shows how you think. It shows how you write.   It shows what’s important to you.  It can draw career or entrepreneurial opportunities to you that you would not believe.  What’s your HR passion?  Compensation Design.  Leadership Development.  Labor Negotiations.   Resume Writing.  Diversity Programs.   Educate us on your passion and help all of us grow through your blog.

Employers of the future will love bloggers.  Microsoft and Apple love ‘em now – they’re ahead of the curve and they get it.  Frankly, other companies haven’t caught on – at least, not yet.  Bloggers are mentors and employers love hiring mentors — they raise everybody’s performance. One caveat, this does not give you the right to be a raging lunatic on your blog (sort of how I fear I come off sometimes, like now!), but is the chance for you to show off what you’re capable of doing, what you’ve done, and what you can do for others who can really benefit from your expertise…like me.

Hope you’ve found these ramblings helpful.   If so, I’ll add some more over time.   Stay strong.

If you want additional career advancement strategies that your boss definitely won’t tell you about that can help you take your HR career to the next level, then you must check out my new book: “Unwritten HR Rules: 21 Secrets For Attaining Awesome Career Success in Human Resources.” It is now available on

Before you rush out and buy it (hint, hint!), you may want to get a sneak peak at it by downloading a couple of FREE CHAPTERS first at .

You can find great value for your HR career in just these two chapters alone. Then you can  decide if the book is for you.

I want you to be cautious because this book isn’t for everyone in HR. This is straight talk.  No BS.  Unsugarcoated.  Uncensored. Much of this is stuff no one talks about out in the open in HR.   And frankly, there are not many that many “tell-it-like-is” HR books out there – especially written by an HR executive who’s toiled in the corporate trenches for twenty-five years at both Quaker Oats and PepsiCo — and because of this, some may be turned off because this doesn’t read like your typical academic HR book.

But, enough of these ramblings…you be the judge.

See what other HR professionals have to say and grab your free sample chapters at

To be fair, I’d love your feedback, comments or pushbacks on this article.  CLICK HERE to add your comments, rants or any additional career advice you’d recommend.


About the Author: Alan Collins is CEO & Chief Editor, He was formerly Vice President – Human Resources at Pepsi where he led HR initiatives for their Quaker Oats, Gatorade and Tropicana businesses. He is the author of Unwritten HR Rules.

15 Responses to “Seven No B.S. HR Career Strategies Your Boss Definitely Won’t Tell You About!”

  1. Richard Says:

    Hello Alan

    Just a quick ‘sign of life’ and thank you for your updates. As you know, we ‘linked-in’ recently and I had a feeling you would be a good source of wisdom/experience… this is proving true. I appreciate you sending these updates and I have gleaned some nuggets from your publications.

    The recent LinkedIn tips were good. I am amazed at the ‘power’ of this tool. I recently researched a change project I am helping to drive on Customer Service differentiation. My board level boss had ‘volunteered’ me as a good scout to bench-mark change/communication techniques on this commercial project (as you are picking up – the role is very ‘business partner’ rather than ‘personnel’ flavoured). I am trusting the jaws of senior Management will hit the floor when they read a 6 page report highlighting the findings/recommendations I gleaned from experts around the world. All this from someone in an ‘HR’ role facilitating and advising on a real business issue. I am also using LinkedIn to position me for future roles in Change/OD at a senior level. Guess what – I get called a lot by head-hunters because I am looking after the networking and profile (for both ‘business’ and ‘personal’ reasons).

    I am in no hurry to move on right now, but I have my longer term ‘agenda’/plans and I am pretty confident LinkedIn will feature in making them reality. Makes me smile… !

    Thank you again for sharing and keeping us posted,



  2. Anthony Says:

    Dead on! Thank you!!

  3. admin Says:

    Submitted by Adam from LinkedIn-


    Nice job on the article. I speak from experience regarding always have your resume in your possession. While traveling weekly to Nashville, I met a gentlemen who owned a Home Health Agency. In general conversation he told me he was looking for an HR generalist and I immediately gave him my resume. Two months later I started with the company as the Vice-President of HR.


  4. Priscilla Says:

    Thanks for sharing…First glance, I could’nt read fast enough. I just printed so I can have some good reading this weekend.

  5. Lisa Rosendahl Says:

    Hello Alan, this is a great article and I am with Priscilla, I am printing this off right now and will poke around your sigt to see what else I can find! Thanks for visiting HR Thoughts and for mentioning me above (you have me a Linda, not Lisa though). Have a great weekend!

  6. Joseph Says:

    One of the best HR articles I’ve ever read. I’m looking forward to reading your book.

  7. Charlene Guss Says:

    Alan, a lot of people get this wrong: Barack Obama IS a Baby Boomer;he was born in 1961. If he had been born AFTER 1964 he would not be.

    But back to your point — Obama is contemporary in his thinking — and it’s a trait worth emulating.

  8. Charles van Heerden Says:

    Hi Alan, love your no BS approach. Agree with our key points, but as I can also be pretty direct, please allow me the following comments:

    #6 is not a strategy. Understand your sentiments, but what are the strategic implications? In dealing with the aftermath of the GFC there was a serious need for baby boomers who have experienced previous recessions.

    The real challenge is for baby boomers to reinvent themselves, not too move to the basement and lick their wounds.

    The strategy is for companies to develop HR system, practices and policies that are meaningful for each generation. From a career perspective, it also means to embrace the many opportunities to grow and develop your career.

  9. admin Says:

    Charlene – thanks for clarifying the Baby Boomer cutoff for Obama – much appreciated!

    Charles – thanks for the great comments & additional insights – totally agree on your comments on the reinvention of the BB’s. On #6, the strategy is specific and targeted at GenX… and that is for them to step up to the plate and lead.


  10. Monika Says:

    This was a great article, refreshing for sure. It was exactly on and the funny thing is, I left PepsiCo (QTG) 8/07. I wanted to transfer to HR (where I had a degree) and was told, “if you don’t work for me, you don’t work for anybody”.

    Lovely. I am in the midst of going through the SPHR training course at DePaul, and last Saturday I came to the realization that: we have come a long way in HR, but not far enough, I can’t work in HR anymore because what we are taught and what actually happens are not the same, ever.

    It just did not line up with my values anymore. Too hypocritical. So guess what, I quit HR. I decided I needed to be true to my real self. I am a creative, and I am going to work for myself. Goodbye forever HR.

  11. Michael Haberman, SPHR Says:

    Interesting stuff. I look forward to reading other material. Thanks for including me on the blog list, I am flattered.

  12. Frances Says:

    Alan, this is a great article, the fact of the matter is that it happens to most of us. I agree with #5, no matter how hard you work if you don’t have an advocate to promote you, you won’t go places. You need to be your own marketing agent otherwise you will continue being at the end of the line and no one will pull you to the frontline.

  13. hossam hussein Says:

    its perfect book, the 2 chapter is complete with information , best of the best its real no one giveing the advise

  14. Brenda Says:

    Your 7 strategies are so true, spoken from someone who wishes she had understood these over a year ago.

  15. hossamhussein Says:

    Perfect Advise from experience In HR , mentor

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