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Asking Question

Is HR a career in which I’ll excel?

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Is HR a career in which I’ll excel?

We often get asked by graduates AND experienced professionals, whether pursuing or transitioning to a career in HR would be well suited.

Many have been encouraged to explore this pathway because of their people skills, analytical abilities, or a desire to ‘give back’ through their professional career.

However, is this all it takes to be successful in HR?

Below are six things to consider before commencing a degree focused on HR, or in choosing HR as your dedicated career path.

1. You must be able to multi-task and remain calm under pressure

This is particularly key in the early stages of your HR career, working as an Advisor, Coordinator or Generalist. In small to mid-size companies your daily responsibilities may range from interviewing job applicants through to dealing with complaints on policies, through to educating the leadership team on diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. Every matter can present as more urgent than the next, and you will often be juggling multiple balls in the air at once. Being able to organise your time, prioritise effectively, attend to each task with care, and remain cool, calm, and collected is critical.

2. You must enjoy learning and have a continuous growth mindset

Being effective in HR will mean a commitment to learning beyond your certificate, diploma, or degree. Successful HR leaders start with a wealth of knowledge, often earned through their education, however constantly complimented with experience, professional development, and independent research. The consequences of relaying inaccurate advice in HR can be serious, so to avoid this you need to stay up to date with the latest laws, trends, best practice processes & initiatives. Once you reach a certain stage in your HR career, you are expected to have the skill to know when your expert knowledge is not good enough, and the time may be right to outsource or call in a specialist.

3. You must be a collaborator and enjoy bringing people together

There is a reason HR can often be referred to as People & Culture. HR oversees ensuring a workforce is engaged, motivated, supported, productive and effective. You need to understand what your employees are looking for and figure out how to connect with them. How can you show that your company’s values and purpose match up with their own? Being the company thermometer / morale booster may also mean you are tasked with organising company events, awards nights, incentives, or recognition days. Understanding the importance of a true high functioning team, possessing strong emotional intelligence and being able to ‘rally the troops’ is very important in HR.

4. You must be able to work comfortably in an ethical manner

Working in HR can mean you need to enforce a compliance-esq approach; you need to make sure everybody in the company is doing the right thing. Not just from an employment law perspective but also from a health and wellbeing perspective. You may need to challenge the opinion and directions from senior leadership if you believe they are making suggestions or recommendations that are not ethical, or in the best interests of the company or the employees. Often there can be grey areas and you need to be comfortable confronting this ambiguity.

5. You need to be able to leverage data, resources, and research

HR is a rapidly changing business vertical where trends, technology and job market fluctuations occur every day. We used the term thermometer earlier, and we would apply this again in the same vein here. You need to be your company’s early warning sign of an industry shift that may impact the team or performance. You also need to be able to deploy your own analysis into the business; utilise technology and create projects that provide you unique data points on your own people. This is where you will gain the best insight and be able to compare against external sources to continue to build on your employee value proposition.

6. You must lead with courage, confidence, and authenticity

As you progress your career in HR you will find that no matter how well planned you are, there will always be unforeseen circumstances to combat. In times of stress, uncertainty and turbulence, people look to HR for comfort. Your leadership style can turn an unstable situation quickly into one that has comfortable uncertainty. Moving into a post pandemic world, many organisations are now realising that HR, People & Culture is a strategic function that needs a seat at the table. HR leaders influence strategy, investment, and priorities. You must be able to project yourself as a professional leader to be able to maximise the effectiveness and excellence of your HR team, and to succeed in your personal HR career.