Are You Ready To Step Up Your Game in HR?

by Alan Collins

Are you ready to step up your HR game?

Do you think this article — which consists of nothing but QUESTIONS — could help you do that?

Well, I do, but why don’t YOU be the judge by giving me your opinion by commenting below once you finish reading it, okay?

Should we begin?

I’m ready, are you?

1.  First things first, how’s your HR career going — HONESTLY?

Is it going as well as you would like it to?

Are you having fun?

Are you satisfied with the size of your paycheck?

If you were forced to, what ONE THING would you do right now that could move your HR career to the next level?

Would you improve your knowledge of your business and financial intelligence?

Would you broaden your global HR experience by accepting an international assignment (e.g. Brazil, Russia, India, China or elsewhere)?

If you’re a generalist, would you consider a specialist assignment?

If you’re a specialist, would you consider moving into a generalist role?

Should you be broadening your skills as an HR leader?

Should you be planning to deepen your competencies in compensation?  In labor relations?  In talent management?  In managing projects?

Or is it time to consider going independent as a consultant, coach, headhunter or entrepreneur?

Are you willing to commit to doing it today?

If you are willing, would yOULDill you write it down right now, so you don’t forget?

2.  Are you using your HR talents to the max in your current role?

Have you ever stopped and thought about how much you really already know in HR?  Isn’t it impressive?

Can you imagine how different your life might be if you fully utilized ALL your HR knowledge?   Are you doing that in the role you’re in now?

If not, why aren’t you?   If you had to choose, would you say it’s due to organization constraints, your fear of failure or just procrastination?

If it is procrastination, could you commit to doing that one thing that’ll improve your career (the one I asked you to write down earlier) as soon as you’ve finished commenting on this article?

3.  Are you marketing yourself and showcasing your HR accomplishments enough?

Do you recognize how much value you’re adding to your organization?

Does your boss recognize this?  Is he or she a career advocate for you?

What about their boss?  What about anyone else who could potentially be your next boss…do they know about how valuable you really are?  Don’t you think they should?   Because if they did, wouldn’t they be in a better position to help move your HR career along?

On a separate note, how engaged are you outside of your organization?

Are you involved in outside HR associations and business networks?  Do you regularly have lunch with people who could potentially provide you with your next HR job?

Is your LinkedIn profile up to date?

4.  Have you ever thought about ways to package your HR experience to promote your HR career even more?

Do you write well?  What about writing a book on what you know in HR?  Not enough time? Have you checked out Write Your Own HR Book Fast?

What about crafting a short 5-10 page report on something you do well?  Still time strapped?  Have your checked out Your HR Goldmine?

What about writing an article on a recent HR project you got rave reviews on?

Do you blog?

Not a writer, ok – can you speak?

Could you put together a short presentation that showcases your expertise?

Do you already have a nice power point deck on a project you’ve already completed?

Could you take that same presentation, adapt it and present it other audiences to position yourself as an authority on that topic?

Could you present it at “lunch & learns” to share your expertise with groups inside or outside your organization?

Could you present it at local SHRM or HR association gatherings?

Could you turn it into a YouTube video (minus the confidential info)?

Do you think any of this would enhance your HR reputation and visibility?

Do you think an enhanced reputation in HR with more people could open up additional opportunities for you?

5.  Are you trying to go it alone in your HR career?

Are you aware that lone rangers don’t make it far up the HR food chain?

Are you associating and learning from HR folks who are playing a bigger game than you are?  Did you know that by doing this, it helps you move your OWN game upwards?

Who are your mentors?   What experienced HR advisors are you tapping into?

Do you have a godfather?  Do you know why you need one?  If not, have you checked out this article?

Who can you let your hair down with?

Who do you trust to give you candid career feedback?

Are you pleased with the size of your network?

How many headhunters know you by name?

What existing relationships do you already have that you are allowing to get stale?  What new relationships or networks should you be building right now?

Think this isn’t important, then answer this question:  if you suddenly got pink slipped, who would you turn to?

What do you think about asking yourself these simple questions every six months…and then TAKING ACTION on the results?

Would your HR career trajectory be different?  Do you think it would help you step up your game?  If so, does it make sense to schedule an appointment with yourself now to go through these questions…seriously?

So, what do you think?  Was this question-based article helpful?

Before you go, can you do two small favors for me?

1. Would you share your comments on this article by clicking HERE?
2. Can you pass this article on to others who might benefit from it and ask them what they think too?

Would you mind if I thanked you in advance?

About the Author: Alan Collins was Vice President – Human Resources at PepsiCo where he led HR initiatives for their Quaker Oats, Gatorade and Tropicana businesses.   He 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 NEW book, YOUR HR GOLDMINE is now is available on Amazon.

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34 Responses to “Are You Ready To Step Up Your Game in HR?”

  1. Michelle D. Says:

    I’m impressed you could write an entire article with questions! Good job. Lots of good questions to ponder.

  2. Mark A. Griffin Says:

    Alan, Thank you for this inspiring article. You are so very good at driving creative thinking from your readers! You are also very good at kicking us HR professionals in the rear to perk up and control our careers. I have been reflecting the past several months on my own career. I continually challenge myself to branch into areas of HR where I have not had exposure. I am delving deeper into the international realm of HR, and have found this to be both personally rewarding and educational. I look forward to further supporting our international business units in Brazil, China, The Netherlands and India. We have never had a strong US HR support presence for these countries, they have virtually operated autonomously, we are finding they are lacking some core processes that fall not only into HR but accounting, finance and IT.

    I am also working on an outline for a book and developing what would be a speaking outline that would accompany it. I continually find as I am out presenting various topics to industry and civic groups that participants are complimentary of my style in delivering materials based on my 20 years of HR experience. This is an opportunity that I might be able to diversify my income in the future, and also give back to industry in a productive, impactful and meaningful way.

    I recently presented my HR Team with your new book: UNWRITTEN HR RULES: 21 Secrets For Attaining Awesome Career Success in Human Resources. They are excited to have received a copy, and I look forward to answering their questions as they read the book.

    Alan, Thank you for your contributions to the HR Profession –

  3. Renecia Lowery-Jeter Says:

    Great questions for re-focusing. I will take the time to go through them and answer in writing.

  4. Gauri Says:

    Hi Alan,
    Excellent article, thought provoking and reminds if we need to be doing better as a HR professional, especially if you’re feeling that your HR career is stagnant… or will be reaching this stage soon. Many thanks for these inspiring and motivating questions which do come to you, but you never think of noting those and take appropriate action.

  5. Cheryl Says:

    These were great questions, and each one brought me to draw natural conclusions and subtle confrontations with the “(wo)man in the mirror. The memory of downsizing is too fresh, and this exercise refreshes the determination to land more softly, more quickly. Thank you.

  6. Rhonda Says:

    Hi Alan,

    This article is right on time! I have been preparing for my upcoming meeting with my General Manager to set my goals and objectives, and this article provides an excellent checklist on what to discuss.

    Also, it gives me topics to discuss with my college mentee who’s looking to enter the HR field.

    Thank you!

  7. Joy Kouns-Lewis Says:

    Hi Alan,

    Resilience seem to be another competence that HR professionals need to demonstrate given your examples. Your article is another inspiring one which sparks that interest and allow encouragement. I will use this in my class when I teach HR and as a practitioner.

    Thanks for thinking outside the box.

    As always “your fan”

    Joy Kouns-Lewis, PhD, SPHR

  8. Dinesh Sharma Says:

    Hi Alan,

    I have to sincerely and honestly admit something. In my efforts to develop myself professionally, couple of years back, I signed up for your article, where you had given 50 tips for success in the HR career. I do not remember, how I got your contact information but I am thanking myself that I did sign up.

    Since then, I have been a faithful follower of all your articles. Working on your advices, I say this very respectually that I have made a lot of progress in my professional career in the last few years. So a Big Thank You to you. You have made a difference in my life.

    If you are ever in Ontario, Canada, it would indeed be a pleasure to meet you.

    Dinesh Sharma

  9. Alan Says:

    Dinesh –

    I was in Calgary a few months ago and loved it. And I’ve heard great things about the Ontario area. Thank you so much for you generous comments. It warms my heart to hear that you’ve followed my articles…and more importantly that you’ve made progress in your career in HR. That’s fantastic!
    If you keep readin’ — I’ll keep cranking out my thoughts on HR. Thank you again for subscribing.


  10. Trudy Says:

    Hi Alan,

    I appreciate this excellent article. It’s a good reminder to periodically assess your career and take action to achieve better results. Good advice.

  11. Sue Says:

    Thank you for reminding all of us what we need to be doing better. Ironically enough I found myself in the situation you described two months ago, however I was enrolled in my Master program in OD and have pushed my network from there. Additionally I am generating informational interviews to build my network. Thanks for keeping us inspired, and motivated!

  12. Rajarams Says:

    Thank You Alan for the food for thought provoking and awakeninig questions to assess oneself and prepare for the next level.Excellent!

  13. Jan Says:

    Extremely thought provoking. I, for one, will definitely be using this question “checklist” on a periodic basis to keep myself fresh and agile. We all have room for improvement, and the more self-satisfaction we receive by attaining new goals and milestones can really keep our dreams alive.

  14. Roderick Says:

    This was a great article! At the time of the year where we HR professionals are helping our organizations develop their goals for the year, we often leaves ourselves out or do not challenge ourselves enough. Thank you for making me think of myself and my career, which will also allow me to have a great impact on my organization.

  15. Swapnil Says:

    Hi Alan,

    This is a very good article and I am sure that now I will work on the questions being asked here. It was really a motivating article for me.


  16. Lana El Moustrah Says:

    Thank you Alan. Really it is a usefull checklist for my career path.

  17. Jayan Sara Says:

    Dear Sir,
    I am much happy to read your articles.Thank you so much.your effort in making good hr professionals and passion in writing ,will go a long way and brings success to all Hr proff.
    Hope you dont mind if i get u abt my personal.
    I did my MBA 2010.My Thirst for Hr didnt let me down .while i was doing my final project the same firm ,offer me a job.Even nothing knowing about HR in piratical,i started my career,gradually they involved me in technical job,motivating me u can have bright future for ever.But my thirst for Hr never allowed me to stay peacefully.Then i quit my job after more than one and half years.
    now here comes a question
    What and where would be my career growth? even i am ready to work for low pay if any one eager to provide me best job in pure HR.My thirst for Hr is going on .I would like to learn from my ground level in Hr.what should i do? could i have a way to go in my way? not of question in my ming.
    when days passed by life ask many questions? suggest me
    thanks in advance

  18. herjeet Says:

    Hi Alan,

    great article! this is true. if you don’t market your HR skills, no one will notice you.

  19. Suresh Says:

    Hi Alan, very thought provoking questions with resource-links readily provided. Thanks!

  20. Kelly Says:

    This is a great article and very thought provoking! It has me thinking and looking at this once a quarter to see if I’m pushing myself is going on my calendar.
    Thank you!

  21. Phylli Chen Says:

    Hi, Alan
    Thanks for the inspiring article.
    You really give me some insights.
    I will work on the things you mentioned and see how far I can go.
    thanks again!

  22. Michael Zroback Says:

    Great article! I was particularly taken with the questions pertaining to the need for a mentor and for performing activities to become better known in this field.

  23. Chrislyn Says:

    This article presents a wake up call to HR managers. The questions asked gives you an opportunity for reflection.
    This article should be shared in other forums.

  24. Susan Says:


    Like others who have already commented, I look forward to your regular installments of HR wisdom and insight. Very energizing and thought provoking.

    Thank you – you are making a positive difference with your words.


  25. Diana Dema Says:

    Another great article! Thank you Alan, I am so pleased to have found the opportunity of reading and learning from your valuable articles. Such a powerful brainstorming of questions, mostly still unanswered ones which might have crossed our minds at different stages of our HR career, on some pondering more on others less, however present with us. However, following the busy life we sometimes don’t give the time to oursleves to shape and articulate those questions in such a comprehensive way. Here they are, ready made for us, providing such a brilliant faciltation and guidance. For us it remains only to take the time and think deeply to find the exact resonance at this time in our HR experience. Thank you again Alan for such awaking!

  26. Diana Dema Says:

    Another great article! Thank you Alan, I am so pleased to have found the opportunity of reading and learning from your valuable articles. Such a powerful brainstorming of questions, mostly still unanswered ones which might have crossed our minds at different stages of our HR career, on some pondering more on others less, however present with us. However, following the busy life we sometimes don’t give the time to ourselves to shape and articulate those questions in such a comprehensive way. Here they are, ready made for us, providing such a brilliant facilitation and guidance. For us it remains only to take the time and think deeply to find the exact resonance at this time in our HR experience. Thank you again Alan for such awaking!

  27. Kay Ford Says:

    Thank you Alan! Extremely constructive and enlightening piece of work.

  28. April D. Halliburton Says:

    Another great article Alan as the article was very engaging as always. I have printed and will review the article again.

    Great Job!!!

  29. April D. Halliburton Says:

    Great article as well Alan!

  30. Filip Erhardt Says:

    Pretty impressive and helpfull!

  31. Shybria Watkins Says:

    Good Evening Alan,

    I would love to take your advice and engage myself with other HR professionals; how can I make a connection? Is there a live chat room, or monthly meetings with such professionals?

  32. Trish McConnell, CHRP Says:

    Always enjoy reading your articles Alan, so thought provoking and inspiring. Your infinite wisdom is amazing! After reading your well-crafted book, Unwritten HR Rules, I decided to share your knowledge. I purchased it as a gift for one of our students who graduated this year, thought I would give her HR career a boost from the start! Thanks!

  33. Rich Salon Says:


    Point #5 of your article “Are you trying to go it alone in your HR career?” is a great point. Each of us at some point in our careers will fall into the trap of “I’m too busy” to do the right things to grow our careers. This includes selecting a mentor and making the most out of the relationship and the advice that one receives from the mentor.

    Well done, Alan, thanks for sharing.



  34. Meg Caddick Says:

    Another great article! You continue to be “True North” looking at HR careers and job satisfaction. I just finished “HR Unwritten Rules” and have shared your site with numerous HR colleagues. You make me STOP and look in the mirror. Keep it up and keep writing hard articles that make me think.