When is the best time to start searching for a new HR position for that company you’ve always wanted to work with? When you’re not looking for a new job.
Whether you work within an HR department or are an HR department of one, your current job can feel overwhelming, exhilarating, demanding, and rewarding – all within the same day. You’re continually working long hours taking care of numerous needs and demands, however it’s critical to make time to plan your career path. Here are some tips you can use right away to move your HR career forward.
One rule to always remember
You have a personal brand. It’s what you stand for. It’s what people count on you for. It’s that one word or phrase that your co-workers use to describe you. Your personal brand includes your personality, expertise, strengths, and most importantly – your reputation. It can be your most powerful asset, and what sets you apart from the other candidates in a job search. It’s worth your ongoing time and attention.
5 essentials to boost your HR career
1: Your brand
The importance of your brand cannot be overstated. No matter how busy you may be, your first and foremost priority should be to create your brand correctly, promote it consistently, and protect it vigorously.
But how do you build your personal brand so that it will work harder for you, and help you get the position you really want?
Here are some key questions to ask yourself when building or refining your personal brand:
- What makes you different from other HR professionals? The answer has nothing to do with being a hard worker, good at multitasking, and excellent at keeping up with new regulations and policies – those are all expected. Many times it’s a small detail that will set you apart.
- What do you want to be known for? Is there one thing that you know, offer or provide that is a unique specialty? Can you leverage that as an elemental distinction?
- What key problem do you solve for your organization? Value is found in the solutions you deliver. What workplace problems are you really good at solving? What brings you the greatest satisfaction?
The key to branding is pinpointing and leveraging that authentic, unique expression of your expertise.
When your personal brand is intentional, strategic, and unique, it makes it easier to stand out when you’re up for a new position, or even a promotion. If you do not create a solid brand for yourself, the marketplace will decide what your brand should be. When that happens, you have little or no control over what hiring managers think or believe about you, or how much they are willing to pay to put you on their team. Brand yourself before someone else does!
When your brand stands for something the hiring manager absolutely needs, your worth increases, and you can demand a higher salary and more benefits.
One way to test and make sure your personal brand is working correctly is to get feedback from several coworkers and colleagues, as well your supervisor. Ask them to honestly describe your personal brand in their own words, and make sure what you hear is aligned with your intention. Try it, what you hear might surprise you.
Once you’re satisfied with your personal brand, come up with a 10-20 second elevator pitch that articulates your brand. This will help your career when you’re at networking events, either online or in person. What can you say that is clear, unique, and memorable?
2: Your target audience
For now, let’s assume you have identified your career path. Now let’s figure out who are the organizations and the people that need to know about you. Ask yourself these questions:
- What are the top 10 organizations you would love to work with?
- Who are the top 10 HR thought leaders you respect?
- Who might be an ideal mentor for you?
- What position would be a stepping stone to your ultimate goal?
- If you have experience in a specific industry, what other industry might consider you to be a valuable resource?
Once you have identified your target audience, let them know you are here. Attend the events they attend. Talk to them, learn from them. Congratulate them on their recent speech, an article where they were quoted, a charity that they participated in. Follow their blogs and comment. Build a rapport, without ever asking for anything. The key is to be visible, and sincerely passionate about HR.
Think big. What do you really, really want to be doing with your career? You never know who knows who. Building a powerful network can turbo charge your career.
3: Your social media
Your personal brand comes to life on your social media. Start by taking a fresh look at your LinkedIn page:
- Does it accurately portray your personal brand?
- Do you have a professional photo, and is it current?
- Is your content up to date?
- Overall, is it as professional as you are?
- When colleagues visit, how does it make them feel?
- Does your page demonstrate professionalism, trust, confidence?
- Does your page stand out from other HR professionals?
Review all your social media pages, from Facebook to Twitter, to be sure your social media supports your personal brand.
Keep your social media fresh with new blogs on LinkedIn that demonstrate your HR expertise. Don’t just say you are an expert in a specific aspect of HR, or you are up to date on the latest HR trends, it’s much more powerful to demonstrate it. Prove it. Blog about new policies and procedures. Take a stand on a controversial workplace issue, yet keep an open mind and be willing to accept new thinking.
4: Become visible
Promote your personal brand so your target audience continually sees your name. Consistency sells. Let your target audience know you are relevant and active. The secret is to always be out there. The more you are visible, the better your chances are of getting that ideal position.
A great start is do a minimum of one task every month that will be visible, such as:
- Blog about current issues in HR
- Present your solution to an industry challenge
- Attend HR events
- Get invited to a roundtable discussion
- Volunteer in your community
- Offer yourself to be a guest on a business podcast
- Give a presentation or get involved in a webinar on a trending HR topic
- Network with people in your target audience
5: Get Clout
Getting your name in the media demonstrates that you are a subject matter expert. Instead of telling a hiring manager you’re an expert, prove it. During your interview, list the publications that quoted you. When the media quotes you, they have identified you as an HR thought leader.
The media will typically request your title and place of employment, so it’s advisable to first check with your current supervisor to be sure you have approval to use the organization’s name; and both you and the organization get free publicity when your quote is published.
When you’re quoted in the media, make sure you have a strategy in place to promote yourself. Tell your target audience that you were quoted. For instance, talk it up at networking events, email your colleagues, blog about it on social media, mention it on Twitter. Getting quoted in the media is an excellent excuse to contact colleagues you may not have spoken to in some time.
Seeing your name in an article about HR reminds your current employer that they made a smart decision to hire you, which would work in your favor during your job review, and when discussing a promotion.
Getting quoted in the media, especially for an HR professional, can be a challenge, however we created a program that works exceptionally well. We call it HR Clout, and have gotten HR professionals quoted in publications that include: Forbes, Arianna Huffington’s media group, US News & World Report, Glassdoor, Chicago Tribune, American Express, SHRM, and the list goes on. Learn More about HR Clout.