It is common knowledge that some young HR professionals struggle at the beginning of their careers. We find that companies are looking for someone with experience and/or a certification to fill their positions. It can be very difficult to overcome this obstacle. Through my experience, successes, and research; I discovered four key steps to help young professionals break into HR.
Find a Mentor: Mentors can assist you during this life changing process by providing important career advice, reviewing resumes, writing letters of recommendations for you, and helping you to network. They can motivate you, give you direction and advice, and coach/train you. These relationships will become invaluable to you as you are getting into your career, and even after you’ve been in your job for several weeks, months, and years. Need help finding a mentor? Many suitable mentors can be found through your local SHRM chapter.
Identify your Resources: As a SHRM member, you have access to resources worldwide. You can find an abundance of information regarding what’s new in the HR & Talent Development world, changes in protocols, different jobs that are available, legal issues, and much more on the SHRM website. SHRM also offers resources such as ‘Ask an Advisor’ or SHRM Connect as well if you have questions. Additionally, joining a SHRM chapter will open you up to endless opportunities. Whether you join a student chapter, professional chapter, or your state council, you are going to find a lot of people that can give you advice and recommendations on how to get ahead in your community.
Get Involved: After you’ve joined your preferred SHRM chapter, find out how you can get involved and volunteer. The more involved you are, the easier it will be to break into the HR field. One networking quote that I live by is: “It’s not who you know anymore, it’s what people know about you.” People will notice you more when you put yourself out there; take advantage of that.
Start at the Beginning: The most important piece of advice I can give is to not be afraid of entry level jobs. I originally came from a situation where I had to take a step backwards. Sometimes you have to do that in order to move forward. Employers are looking for people with the right knowledge, skills, and abilities to fill their positions, and if you lack experience, those entry level jobs are going to start to look pretty tempting. Take advantage of every opportunity to find internships and entry level positions. Utilize career fairs, job posting boards on campus, websites like SHRM, LinkedIn, Indeed, etc., and word of mouth. Make sure people know you are looking for a job, and have references available that will give you a good recommendation.
Looking at the big picture, I understand it can be a bit intimidating to be a small fish in a large body of water, not knowing what steps to take and how to get there. But stay strong, step out of your comfort zone, and keep your head held high. Stay confident and know that as long as you keep pushing forward, and keep the ball rolling, you too, will succeed.