Thursday, 3 March 2016


26 Tips For Stepping Up Your HR Career in 2016…

by Alan Collins
It’s that time again.
2016 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 2016 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 26 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: 26 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…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/ACIPM 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.  Develop your own iPhone app for HR.

Admittedly this is an out-0f-the-box idea.   iPhone apps continue to grow exponentially.  So it’s not surprising that there are some very serious ones being developed to help job seekers and HR professionals.
  • The “Hire Me!” app is geared to the potential job seeker.
  • The “FollowUp — Personal CRM” app is designed to help you keeping up with your personal network of contacts.
  • Career coach Deborah Brown-Volkman has transformed her coaching advice into an app called “Job Search Coach.”
  • The “Interview Assistant Lite” is designed to help companies develop “a logical method for determining the potential benefits and problems when hiring.”
  • The “Pay Stub Pal” or “Net Pay 2012” apps allow employees to track their own compensation, 401(k) contributions, and other elections affect their net pay.
  • There’s even an “iHateMyJob” app that lets users “vent without ever having to say a word and get in trouble with your boss.”
Just about any routine HR activity can be turned into an app.  Got a great HR idea you want to turn into an app, but you’re not a techie?    No sweat.  There are plenty of programmers and geeks around the globe on anxious for you to put them to work dirt cheap.  Lay out your HR idea and let them amaze you with the iPhone app they can design for you.  It’s more affordable than you think and may become your new HR sidehustle.  Like I said, out-of-the-box.  But not beyond the realm of reality.

21.  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.

22.  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.

23.  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  While I can’t vouch for the service and it looks expensive, it just might be worth exploring.

24.  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.

25.  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.

26.  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 2016 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.

  • Tuesday, 3 November 2015


    Going by events in the last few decades coupled with competition for consumer scarce resource, the need to ensure better use of human capital and that human capital is adequately placed and motivated to perform its role as an economic entity, has necessitate representation of the practitioner at the highest level of decision making. Whether you are operating locally, or at the global level, there is need to give priority to your HR. Enjoy the below article on the above subject matter.

    Stuart Woollard,

    Andrew, as the Chair of the Maturity Institute (MI), which is founded on the principle of being evidence-based, I would suggest that you need to come up with some convincing evidence to support your ...

    Paul Kearns
    Is the HRD no longer enough? Do boards need a head of human governance?

    This article was written before the recent VW corporate scandal, which serves as yet another timely reminder of how people management systems create the most serious business risk for all stakeholders and wider society, and for which most organisations remain completely unprepared.

    Last month, the FT reported how global consumer goods firm Unilever found itself having to deal with a major environmental problem that had allegedly caused serious health outcomes for both employees and the local community. The severity of the problem gave rise to questions about the credibility of Unilever’s well-publicized global business strategy called 'sustainable living'.
    Unilever’s problem is far from an isolated one for the business world. It provides yet another page in a fairly constant narrative of corporate problems and major crises arising since the Enron scandal. It also highlights how these crises are almost always rooted in people management. From bribery to trading to accounting, and in myriad other ways, it is an organisation’s human capital – how it is led, managed, and then how it acts – that typically creates its single biggest area of risk.
    It is evident that sustainably successful companies understand that their organisation comprises a whole human system, and is managed accordingly. That system includes all the people connected to it in the production and supply of goods and services. For example, the human capital value and risk that arises from corporate supply chains. Simply put, an organisation cannot maximise its value if it fails to maximise the value created by all the human capital connected to it.
    Yet, in the analysis of companies in our global human capital management index, we have found virtually no organisation with someone at board level that has responsibility for the business risk and value creation that arises from its human capital. In fact, the closest person we found having any responsibility for this job was actually the CEO, and there are only a few who have articulated the importance of their people in this context.
    For most public companies, human capital issues are often categorised, considered, and reported through the lens of a separated ‘corporate responsibility’, rather than mainstream corporate strategy. It is perhaps unsurprising then that such firms view effective people management as peripheral to day-to-day ‘business’. HCM measures tend to be simplistic and aligned with improving PR, rather than linked to true value creation. Company reports often contain information on areas such as diversity & inclusion demographics, health & safety, and employee engagement scores but only in rare cases provide any insight into how human capital management drives innovation, quality, productivity and financial performance.
    A new role that focuses on holistic human governance is absolutely critical and is needed now. It is also increasingly recognised by many other stakeholders that human governance issues must become a priority.
    For the Maturity Institute this human governance role has emerged from work with both the corporate world and the investment management sector. It is neither conventional HR nor that of a conventional executive, but a broader role that should appeal to people who have a particular interest in and exceptional understanding of the human dimension of organisational management.
    The role of ‘head of human [capital] governance’ is one where the post-holder would chair a board-level committee of the same name. Given that human capital can only be managed effectively on a whole system basis, the role should also assume responsibility for remuneration and work closely with the corporate risk committee to facilitate better understanding and management of people risk. The head of human governance should also be tasked with producing a cohesive and meaningful human capital report – something that is currently absent from annual corporate reporting.
    Such dramatic changes cannot happen overnight. However, this will not stop us striving to move companies in this direction. Many stakeholders are desperately calling for a new direction and substantial change from organisations. There is also room for optimism that some organisations are ready for this kind of change.
    The Maturity Institute's view is that, regardless of experience, there are precious few HRDs immediately capable of doing such a job. However, with the right development and support, they should be able to grow quickly into the role and fulfill all requirements.

    Stuart Woollard is managing partner at OMS LLP and council member at the Maturity Institute