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9 Career Development in Human Resources According to Susan Heathfield, a Human Resources expert with 35 years in the field, many people are eager to begin a career in Human Resources because it is a fast-growing career field with many lucrative opportunities. She says that liking people is not the only qualification for pursuing a career in Human Resources. While it helps, it is insufficient for success. 2 Career development is vital to the success of any professional, but it is particularly critical in the development of a human resources professional. Why? In order to develop as a human resources professional, you must 1) accept the possibility of starting in an entry level position; 2) have the ability to handle confidential information; and 3) have a burning desire to succeed. To be successful in the field, several other factors must be taken into consideration to include researching and identifying a potential career path, education, networking, mentoring and coaching, and on-the-job training. A combination of all of these factors (and more) contribute to career development and success in the field. Identifying a Potential Career Path There are a variety of positions in the field of Human Resources. This allows for the opportunity to identify a preferable work setting, a suitable size organization and the ability to specialize or generalize in any area. 3 While it is difficult to break into the field, it is possible if there is the willingness to start at the bottom of the ladder in an entry level position. Unless afforded a lateral opportunity without suffering a change in pay, compromise may be necessary. That compromise may be to start out as an Administrative Assistant handling routine tasks such as personnel filing, handling data entry for an organization s HRIS system, querying simple reports from an HRIS system or database with pertinent information regarding employees, and/or greeting interview candidates. Second, reality is that most Administrative Assistants in the field make less than a secretary or other administrative professionals. If you are interested in Human Resources, however, your interest can not be focused on money in the beginning. Your focus must be on gaining as much basic experience in the field and setting a foundation for a career. If contemplating a career in the field, consider the following questions: What is my current skill set? What opportunities are there for me at my current skill level? What tools/resources do I need to acquire to expand my current skill set? What opportunities will there be for me in the field if I expand my current skill set? What are my short-term goals? Where would I ultimately like to be in the field of Human Resources? In what kind of environment am I most comfortable? How do I get there?

10 As you grow professionally in the field and begin to think about an area of concentration, consider additional questions: Am I a people person? Am I a leader? Do I have the ability to motivate? Do I communicate well orally and in writing? Do I consider myself a change agent? How do I feel about being part of the success or failure of someone s job/career? Do I have project management skills? Can I handle possessing confidential information? Do I have good communication and listening skills? All of the questions above will help you on your journey of mapping out a potential career path in Human Resources. Education Although a college education or a national certification is not needed to succeed in the field of Human Resources, it certainly helps propel an individual forward in their career. Consider the study conducted in the 1990 s by Wayne Mondy where human resources practitioners in various firms were asked the following questions: 1) Which entry-level position in your firm would be most helpful if a person desires to progress into human resources? 2) What types of education or experience are most desirable for these entry-level positions? 3) Which human resource entry-level position would best assist a person s career progression in your firm? Below is a compilation of some of Mondy s results :4 Company Entry-Level Position Education/Experience Bristol-Myers Products Human Resource Assistant Bachelors degree with two or three years experience in general human resource work Grumman Corporation Salary Analyst Bachelors degree in any of a variety of Employment Interviewer concentrations including psychology, Career Development Analyst business, and data processing Motorola, Inc. Employment Interviewer B.S. or B.A.; no experience Shell Oil Company Employee Relations Analyst A Bachelor s or Masters degree in human resources or industrial relations preferred Rockwell International Corporation Supervisory Trainee (Field) M.B.A. in human resources or industrial

11 Industrial Relations Trainee relations Gerber Products Company Supervisor Trainee Four years of college Administrative Trainee Four years of college Denny s, Inc. Interviewer Bachelor s degree in business or two years in human resource interviewing The results of this study show that even back in the 1990 s, corporations were looking for a college degreed professional for entry level human resources positions. Some corporations clearly stressed worked in other functional areas before moving to human resources and some welcomed direct entry into the human resources field. Mondy said that the nature of the firm s business or top management s human resource philosophy may account for the differences. 5 These philosophies still exist today. Earning a Bachelor s degree or a Master s degree in the field of Human Resources is not enough to succeed in all positions in the field. Susan Heathfield, human resources expert, says that as the expectation of human resources professionals has changed, the need for an education and degree has increased. As a matter of fact, a degree is becoming essential. 6 Heathfield also says there is an increasing number of human resources professionals who have both Bachelor s degrees and Master s degrees. Since Human Resources is a highly competitive field, the more education one has in appropriate subjects, the better the chance for excellent job prospects and a successful career. Another trend Heathfield discusses is seeing Human Resources Directors with a Ph.D. and/or a Juris Doctor (J.D.), legal degree. 7 The U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics shows overall employment growth by 17 percent between 2006 and 2016, which is faster than average for all occupations. Their projections are that college graduates who have earned certification should have the best job opportunities. Graduates with a Bachelor s degree in human resources, human resources administration, or industrial and labor relations should be in demand; those with a technical or business background or a well-rounded liberal arts education also should find opportunities. 8 Below is an employment projections table listing employment statistics from the National Employment Matrix. It includes 2006 employment, projected 2016 employment, and the change in employment in both numerical and percent terms. Numbers below ten thousand are rounded to the nearest hundred, numbers above ten thousand are rounded to the nearest thousand, and percents are rounded to the nearest whole number. Numerical and percent changes are calculated using non-rounded 2006 and 2016 employment figures, and then are rounded for presentation in the employment projections table.9

12 Projected Change, SOC employment, Occupational title Code Employment, Number Percent Human resources, training, and labor relations managers and specialists ,000 1,015, , Compensation and benefits managers ,000 55,000 5, Training and development managers ,000 33,000 4, Human resources managers, all other , ,000 6, Employment, recruitment, and placement specialists , ,000 36, Compensation, benefits, and job analysis specialists , ,000 20, Training and development specialists , ,000 38, Human resources, training, and labor relations specialists, all other , ,000 35, NOTE: Data in this table are rounded. See the discussion of the employment projections table in the Handbook introductory chapter on Occupational information Included in the Handbook. As you can see, there will be an upswing in projected employment in the field of Human Resources through One way to break into the field is to intern with an organization in their Human Resources Department. Another is to seek out an organization who provides tuition reimbursement to help finance a degree in the field. These are two great ways to work in the field and gain an advanced education at the same time. Obtaining a degree online is also becoming more popular for the professional who is unable to attend classes at a university fulltime during the day. For management level positions, it may put you at an advantage to earn a Master s Degree in Business Administration, Human Resources, Organizational Development or something in a related field. National Certifications are also a plus. Some of those include a national certification as a Professional in Human Resources (PHR), Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) or a Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR). These certifications are administered through The Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI). There are other certifications such as Certified Benefits Professional (CBP), Certified Employee Benefits Specialist (CEBS), and Certified Compensation Professional (CCP), to name a few. No matter how you gain the knowledge, education is essential in advancing in a career in the field. Networking How do you gain information in the field? From other professionals! Joining organizations, attending breakfast and/or lunch meetings, local/national conventions is imperative in developing a career in human resources. Join organizations such as The Society For Human Resource Management or the Association of Legal Administrators (for those in the legal field), or the National Human Resources Association. Attending networking events allows the opportunity to meet people in the field with whom you will be able to network. It affords a

13 learning experience from others in the field (i.e., how they have handled certain situations in their environment), and more importantly, there is an opportunity to develop long-lasting friendships with others in the field. Another means of networking is by attending seminars through organizations such as SkiliPath Seminars, National Seminars Training, and Council on Education. Generally, the seminars offered serve as reinforcement for experienced human resources professionals, but for beginners, these seminars are valuable. In either case, attending seminars allows a new perspective and allows an opportunity to meet others in the field. One suggestion, regardless of your level of experience, is to set a goal that you will take one concept from each seminar attended and transfer that concept to your current working environment. Mentoring and Coaching In the process of networking, find a mentor or a coach who will contribute to your success in the field. Look for someone who is just as passionate about the field and latch on! Ask questions about how they got to where they are in the field, what kind of education they have, what made them choose the legal field as opposed to a corporation or vice versa, what professional certifications they recommend, what organizations they belong to, etc. Even more important is to take a position with an organization where your immediate supervisor is willing to coach/mentor and provide guidance along the way. Choosing the right position where there is upward mobility (if that is the goal) is an important decision in an effort to embark on a career in the field where there is an opportunity for professional and intellectual development. Pigeonholing oneself in a position where there is no opportunity to gain experience except in a specialized area at the outset of a career in the field can be a detriment in moving up the ladder or to a different area, so be cautious and picky in choosing the right organization to begin a career in the field. On-the-Job Training As Susan Heathfield states, the income and opportunity prospects are favorable for the next decade or two in Human Resources. 10 So, if you are interested in the field and you have the drive to succeed, do not be afraid to apply for a human resources opening. Developing professionally in any position requires on-the-job training. In an entry level position, ask questions in the department of people who have institutional knowledge about the corporation. Ask what systems were used in the past and what systems are used in the present. Volunteer to take on the personnel filing to become familiar with the set-up of a personnel file. Review timesheets for the experience of calculating hours in your environment. Get involved with new software being rolled out in the department such as automated time entry systems, applicant tracking log systems, databases or HRIS systems housing pertinent information. Attend seminars on how to be an effective Administrative Assistant in Human Resources or on HR Law. In moving up the corporate ladder toward a higher level position, sit in on employee counseling sessions, attend a seminar on behavior interviewing, or volunteer to do research on a new HRIS system for the organization. Get involved in training and development and prepare and present information to your peers. Research allows for growth in the area of critical thinking and

14 analysis, and that experience is golden! Whichever path you choose in the field, professional and intellectual development is imperative to be successful. Conclusion First and foremost, if you are interested in a career in the field of Human Resources, three things must exist: 1) the possibility of having to accept a starting position at the bottom of the totem pole; 2) ability to handle confidential information; and 3) possessing a burning desire to succeed. Once you have answered whether or not these three things exist for you and you are certain Human Resources is your field of choice, begin charting your career path by assessing your current skill set. What are your short and long term goals, what is your current skill set and how can you get to the next level? Do you have the education necessary to enter the field in the position of your choice? As you have seen, the field of human resources has been and still is evolving, and forecasts show that positions in the field will be plentiful through the year Although a degree is not needed, it is strongly encouraged for entry level positions and an advanced degree is encouraged for upper level and management positions. So, if you do not have a degree, research and apply to four-year universities or apply to on-line university programs. In addition, research opportunities to obtain certification in general and specialized areas. Joining organizations, subscribing to magazines and newsletters and attending seminars are great ways to enhance your human resources knowledge. Network, network, network! Find someone who is just as passionate in the field and who is willing to coach and mentor you in your development as a human resources professional. There is nothing more valuable than learning from someone who has experience in the field. This will afford you the opportunity to develop the expertise to perform certain functions as you progress in your career. Finally, on-the-job training is essential. A hunger for knowledge and desire to apply that knowledge is the only way to gain experience and move up the ladder. Remember, starting out in an entry level position is okay. More importantly, if you choose the right organization, you may have an opportunity to experience more than one area of human resources which will help you chart your path to success in the specialty area of your choice! '2008 Cynthia M. Johnson All Rights Reserved. Heathfield, Susan M., So, You Think You Want A Career In Human Resources? http ://humanresources. about.comlod/hrbasicsfaq/tp!careersinhr.htm. About.com: Human Resources, 2 Heathfield, Susan M., How to Prepare for a Career in Human Resources, About.com: Human Resources, http ://humanresources. about.comlod/hrbasicsfaq/tp/careersinhr.htm. Ibid. Mondy, R. Wayne and Noe, III, Robert M., Human Resource Management, Fifth Edition, Boston, 1993 ( ). Ibid.

15 6 Heathfield, Susan M., So, You Think You Want A Career In Human Resources? About.com: Human Resources, http ://humanresources.about.comlodlhrbasicsfaq/tp/careersinhr.htm. Heathfield, Susan M., Business Management Success Tips, Why Human Resources Leaders Need Degrees, About.com: Human Resources, http ://humanresources.about.comlod/hrbasicsfaq/tp/careersinhr.htm. 8 U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Edition, 1.htm. Ibid. Heathfield, Susan, M., So you Think You Want A Career In Human Resources? About.com: Human Resources, http ://human resources. about.comlod/hrbasicsfaq/tp/careersinhr.htm.

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