Setting a Strong Foundation – 4 Key Focus Areas for the Emerging HR Professional



It’s a pivotal time for people and work. There are many issues and changes affecting society, the way we work, and where we work. HR is at the center of helping companies achieve their long-term business goals amidst challenging times, while also taking care of their people. As an emerging professional, it can be difficult (and sometimes overwhelming) tackling tough problems for your organization or helping take things to the next level. Here are four key focus areas to consider to have a solid foundation in navigating your journey.

Develop an HR Network

Building your HR network and support system is a crucial part of success and delivering value quickly. Working with others in the industry can provide insight into how other organizations are tackling similar challenges. It can highlight what’s possible and where you might have challenges. There are many ways to expand your network –  one way could be attending and getting involved in your local SHRM chapter, as well as memberships in other organizations around a particular topic area (e.g., college recruiting, employer branding). Also, taking on a volunteer-type role with industry membership organizations can immediately help you build long-lasting relationships that will come in handy when you need a safe space to problem solve.  

Continue Learning

Build time for strategic work and continued learning. In HR, it’s easy to focus on the urgent.  Your organization needs you, and there’s always more on the to-do list. Some of your best ideas on how to support the business will come from understanding the trends, changes, and opportunities in HR. Find time to read industry journals and even consider working toward a certification or micro-credential. HR certifications can expand your expertise and exposure to parts of HR, resulting in your ability to contribute even more value to your organization.

Understand Your Business

Deeply understanding your business and customers will help you build credibility with your internal partners and customers, as well as uncover potential solutions to support your organization. What are the goals? What are the products? What are your top challenges? Many companies offer internal training courses around their products and services for new hires in other departments. Often, this training is free and self-paced, so you can learn as you go!

Be Open

Be open to taking on projects others don’t want or those that aren’t the shiny new things. When looking back on my career, some of my best projects have been the ones I was handed as the most junior member of the team or the ones no one wanted to do. Those projects provide an opportunity to build new relationships, make something fully your own, and develop an expert reputation by showing value through the project. 


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