I feel like now is a good time to tell the rest of the story. When Ben asked for advice from his HR peers specifically for entry-level HR I kept it short and simple. In my defense he clearly stated that if I was busy he would take short and simple… so that’s what I gave! 🙂
Why is my advice only 3 sentences? Because it works. I became Staffing Manager very quickly within my organization and it isn’t because I have unending knowledge and experience. Well maybe the unending knowledge, right? I kid. I do take responsibility for learning something new about my job or HR in general everyday and that has something to do with it, but not everything. I firmly believe that leaders can produce like kind and I have a burning desire to be a leader. Not just any leader…a GREAT leader… a SUCCESSFUL leader… a RESPECTED leader… a LEADER that can produce other GREAT LEADERS. So when I told Ben my advice to entry-level HR would be this “Get connected! Be active in your local SHRM group and connect with other HR professionals! Find a mentor and utilize the heck out of them!” I’m sure he wanted more (and so did the readers http://upstarthr.com/entry-level-hr-jobs-the-ultimate-guide/ ) so let me explain.
I climbed quickly (did I forget to mention I started out simply filing here and processing applications) because I latched on to some great mentors! I believe you should have more than one mentor. HR is a profession that has a wide variety of opportunity and we constantly see successful people who have mastered specific areas in HR so I think it is appropriate to have multiple mentors who have become successful in different sectors of HR. We all talk about how busy we are so I can’t expect to get a ton of time out of one person, so I have several people to turn to that I can get a little bit of their time. I have mentors within our organization and mentors outside of the organization. Why would I do that? Sometimes I need some expertise and guidance on how to deal with something I’m going through at work and I wouldn’t want to use someone within the organization for that kind of mentoring. Call it a conflict of interest if you will. The people within our organization can mentor me on the day-to-day that I’m doing wrong (or right) so they are pretty valuable to me. My mentors within the organization are [obviously] successful employees that know what its like to start out where I started and be responsible for the kind of growth and programs that I was responsible for. Time is not our friend so it only makes sense that I would try to learn from their mistakes as often as possible instead of creating their mistakes again. Plus, we can’t make efficient progress if every new team member has to learn every lesson the hard way. It is very important that you do not overlook mentors within your own organization. I struggle with the fact that my mentor has a lot of old school ways about her and I sometimes catch myself stuck on that when that really shouldn’t matter because she has something that I don’t. My people skills flat-out suck sometimes [a post all on its own soon, I’m sure]. She is pretty well liked throughout the organization and I know the owner has a mad amount of respect for her. I know the basics: I can sell, I can recruit, I can interview, I can do payroll, I can counsel employees, I can pull the truth from stubborn applicants, I can spot talent, I can do orientation and process new hires, I can (as one of my friends likes to say) find you a job in Africa, if that’s where you so choose for me to find you a job; but I can’t get further than I am if I don’t master the people skills. Knowing this and recognizing this meant one thing… I had to learn them. Er, maybe I should say HAVE to learn them (what can I say, I’m a work in progress). <–So where am I going with that? –>Mentors work, if you pick the right ones. I think to pick a mentor you have to know your weaknesses. I mean REALLY know them… now find someone who is REALLY good at what your weak in… now learn everything they can teach you. It is important that your mentor be someone who is respected in their organization and amongst their peers. This helps validate that they are doing something right and that they know a thing or two.
Now for the get connected. That’s easy- SHRM. Join your local SHRM chapter. If you do nothing else to get connected at least do this. NASHRM has become one of the most valuable tools for me in my career. I am able to network with people who do the same thing I do on a regular basis. I get to stay up to date on important HR issues, because someone else is doing so and then presenting to our group. I have a network of people from NASHRM that I can call when faced with a new situation. I have opportunities to volunteer and do awesome things like go to DC twice a year and be a voice for HR to our congressmen/women and senators! I used a NASHRM study group to prepare for taking the PHR. I’ve met incredibly talented people through this group. The contribution this group has had to my career and continuing education is a no brainer. GET. CONNECTED. If you don’t I only have to assume you’re not passionate about your career choice. It doesn’t have to be with SHRM, there are other opportunities, this one just happens to be near and dear to my heart! 🙂
It isn’t much, but it’s my rest of the story. Hope it helps!