25 Tips For Stepping Up Your HR Career in 2017…

by Alan Collins

It’s that time again.

2017 is NOW upon us.

Now is the time to DECIDE what you want to accomplish in the New Year.

Yes, right now.

But you shouldn’t just make any old kind of flimsy commitments.

What are the initiatives that you will tackle in 2017 that can REALLY take your HR career to the next level?

Stuck for ideas?  Not sure where to start?

No problem.

I’m going to give you 25 ideas 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 tips — any one of which that will easily place you among the top 5% of all HR professionals.

1. Update your resume and use it to aggressively go after better HR opportunities.

Your resume is the most financially-important document you will ever create. If you want to get a better job or richer paycheck, it is the first thing anyone will ask you for before they’ll agree to interview you.

So you absolutely must have one if you want to open doors and connect with hiring authorities. And you need one that powerfully differentiates YOU from…and above ..the rest of the pack if you want to advance your career in today’s highly competitive HR marketplace.

If you need help in developing one that will do just that, check out HR Resume Secrets.

Note:  Once you’ve updated your resume, update your LinkedIn profile too, to make sure the two are in sync.

While we’re talking about LinkedIn….

2.  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).

3.  Publish three articles in your HR specialty.

To get your name more broadly known and in print, you have lots of options.

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.

Or start publishing on LinkedIn’s new platform, Pulse.  It’s even easier.

Just make sure you that for each article, you include a two sentence bio about yourself at the end. Here’s an example.

4.   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

5.  Broaden your global experience to differentiate yourself.

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.

6.  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.

7.  Develop a white paper on your HR specialty. 

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.  Then aim to get this white paper downloaded by 500 people.  Need an example or model to follow, look over this white paper here.

8.  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 2017.

That’s a long time.

So don’t wait.  Local SHRM chapters are always looking for enthusiastic presenters with practical, real-world, in-the-trenches HR experience.  Become that presenter.

9.  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.

10.  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.

11.  Re-read Unwritten HR Rules or  Winning Big in HR.

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.

12.  Start your own HR blog.

Get some inspiration from the HR blogs of Ben Eubanks (an HR manager who blogs for “in-the-trenches” HR professionals), Kris Dunn (an HR executive who has built an expansive blogging community), and Suzanne Lucas (a corporate HR director known as the evil HR lady).

Use them as models to craft your own unique identity. Through your blog you can share your own HR insights and experiences to enhance your credibility. Not sure how to get started? Follow the guidance in this step-by-step guide.

13.  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.

14.  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.

15.  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.

16.  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.

17.  Turn your HR know-how into a second income on side.

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.

18.  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.

19.  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.

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 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 butt 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 this list, what are you waiting for?

When someone asks you in 2017 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.

It’s time. 

Go make it happen.

Starting now.

Your feedback is welcomed.  Please click HERE to add your comments or perspectives on this article…or to add any HR career tips 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, HR RESUME SECRETS 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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27 Responses to “25 Tips For Stepping Up Your HR Career in 2017…”

  1. Anjana Says:

    Wish you a prosperous year ahead. Thanks again to share the articles related HR. IT’S REALLY NICE TO READ AND FOLLOW IT TO ENHANCE MY HR CAREER. I just admire you as a Mentor/guru. Thanks again.

  2. Janis Moore Says:

    Thanks for the reminders on how WE as HR Professionals can manage our own careers by coming out of OUR comfort zones! Ideas are duly noted!

    Thanks for mentoring all of us!

    Happy New Year!

  3. Michale Thompson Says:

    WOW! Thank you.

  4. @civicark10 Says:

    Have been following Alan for about 4 years now, I think Alan is still a go-to-person for HR strategies

  5. Kenya Says:

    Thank you for not only this article – but for sharing your gift with others in this industry. I can only speak for myself when I say that you have encouraged me greatly in 2014 to think and do better as an HR Professional. Happy New Year!!!

  6. lim Says:

    Great & very helpful recommendations, it helps HR professional to know where to put effort through to be success in their career…

  7. Bridgette Partee Says:

    Great suggestions. I especially liked #26!

  8. Kaosara Says:

    This is awesome. The points are direct and inspiring.To me, its a scorecard. I have already started few of the hints and now I know my next cause of action. Though some if the points may be challenging but they are all explorable and achievable. Thanks for sharing this.

  9. Zeljka Says:

    Very useful for the beginners(like me:-)
    Thank you!

  10. Hany M. Mahrous Says:


  11. Darious Says:

    Honestly, this is very important information. Thanks for your efforts in making us better HR professionals.

  12. Nancy Omar Says:

    This is very vital in 2017, currently the HR community on its peak, Self development is one of the most Important tools to be effective, As we all know HR is very challenging and requires knowledge and effort and continuous updates of the latest tools, we are expected to achieve all organizational objectives through the Human Resources Department,therefore continuous self Investments for this role will definitely add value to any organization, this role can change lives. If you are unique, you will be worth billions wherever you go. you can lead organizations, change Mindset, lead communities and it all starts with presenting a good example of yourself by daily enhancement of Knowledge and personality, with goodwill, being a helping and a decision maker/firm whenever required.

  13. Siddhivinayak Says:

    Good one indeed !

  14. jacqueline Says:

    Very much enjoyed your article. I am in the process of moving towards retirement and need to be able to develop a viable HR business that incorporates everything I have learned in my years of experience.

  15. You Need a Side Hustle! | Gwendolyn HR Says:

    […] working for peanuts. Don’t you think? On his website, Collins gives practical advice on how to step up your HR career as well as on turning your HR knowledge into a second income on the side. If you really think […]

  16. Manoj Says:

    Hello Sir,

    Thank you very much for sharing tips to excel in HR profession.

    Thanks & Regards
    Manoj Vasa

  17. sachin Says:

    really enjoyed reading the article. it helped in lot of ways.

  18. Muhammad Tahir Says:

    Thank you Alan. Happy New Year to you. Your article is apt and indeed very helpful.

  19. Thanh Says:

    Thanks to Alan for sharing and inspiring Me to keep moving up in HR career path.

    I wish you a happy new year with full love and passion to and from HR community..

  20. Hamidah Says:

    Excellent reminders for the New Year regardless of those in active HR practice or those in consulting roles –useful for emerging new HR folks.

  21. Khadeejah Says:

    Thanks Alan… for this beautiful reminder.

    Stay blessed

  22. Diana Says:

    Thank you Alan. May 2017 bless you with good health, joy moments with your family and dear friends and keeping on being energized with the positive spirit of inspiring and empowering HR professionals around the globe!

  23. Janelle R. Says:

    Happy New Year! Thank you for this great reminder of what HR Pros can do to help elevate their career and keep them enthused about what it means to be in human resources and a leader. Thank you! I look forward to more articles!

  24. Pankaj Pradhan Says:

    Find it Very practical and useful.Thanks for sharing.

  25. JC Says:

    Alan, I’m not really an HR expert. I’m attempting to transition into HR (majoring in HR Management and studying for the a-PHR-don’t qualify for any of the SHRM certs). I’ve written HR as I’ve been learning in on a well known blog that supports government workers. I even purchased your awesome HR blog program, but yet to start. Afraid I won’t have any content. Any suggestions anyone? SHRM’s bylaws don’t allow anyone to run for an officer position unless they are already WORKING in HR. I was told that by my chapter, but looked it up for myself. It’s there.

  26. Priyanka Says:

    Very practical article but found some points really difficult to achieve as it’s not in our control. For eg., getting recommendations on Linked in..how to get them as I had tried in past to reach out the trusted colleagues but they seem to be not interested in putting some praises for you.

  27. Ava Modi Says:

    Nice Article Want more about HR Career : http://www.article.stillsolution.com/education/5-simple-tips-and-tricks-that-will-pump-up-your-hr-career/