Here are just 10 things you can do starting today to improve your career path in the Human Resources field.
1) Learn about all of HR. Study the functions of compensation, benefits, union negotiations, communications, training, organizational development all of it. Raise your hand to be part of a project team; sit in on the discussions about insurance changes; help with new employee orientation, participate in training.
2) Learn about your department customers. How does HR and payroll interact? What is the beef that payroll has on HR? It could be a continual request for manual checks; it could be lateness in getting information to payroll. What can you do to help that?
3) Learn from your customer: employees and managers. When do employees visit HR? Lunchtime? How? Via phone? Walk in? Mail? Do managers come to visit after hours? How can you become more visible by being there just a bit later or earlier than others? Your accessibility will make more people want to come to you.
4) Read, read, and read. Read the latest in journals for HR and the latest books. Read the magazines of your business. If it is manufacturing ask a manager what magazine would be a good one for you. Most of the time there are free subscriptions. If not, ask your manager if you can have his/her old one or look at it on line. You will start to pick up the words, and pick up the issues of your business. Your credibility grows because you will understand more. If you don’t understand something ask.
5) Walk, walk, and walk. Visit the office. Even in small offices, it means a great deal to show up catching employees doing something right. Sometimes Hr folks can stay locked in their area, and only see the “squeaky wheels” or the troublemakers. Get out there. Put a note on your door or a line across your cube—walking around visiting my customers! Just that language will have people asking what is going on.
6) Understand the company’s strategy. How can you align your work with the company’s strategy? If the firm’s goal were to gain business in Brazil, perhaps you would like to take Portuguese language skills. If the company’s speed to market is key-how can you make a goal for responsiveness? Do you get back with everyone who calls? Do you do it in 24 hours? Does your voicemail message say so?
7) Network with other HR professionals in the community. Senior HR leaders tell me over and over how they wished they did more of that earlier on in their career. Their networking was all internally focused. It is good to be connected within the company but connecting with others gives you fresh ideas and allows you work with others. Perhaps a couple small businesses will share a booth for recruitment?
8) Clean up your dress. Dress professionally. You can do that even in a casual way. If you are in doubt what that looks like for you-go to a store and ask.
9) Clean up your work area! What do people see when they come into your area. Do they see an HR pro? Or what?
10) Clean up your language! And add to your vocabulary. Make a commitment to yourself to move away from totally casual language to a more poised language free of clichés. Use phrases: “Our customer XYZ is coming Tuesday, so I thought it would be great to inform the employees on the route through the plant. We can ask a couple of them to explain what they are doing on their machine. What do you think?” Choose to make your language collaborative, not directive.

Author's Bio: 

Interested in choosing a path that strengthens your career? Contact Kelley Rexroad at Kelley’s global HR career was successful because others wanted her “at the strategy table.” She is known for her integrity, results, and ability to collaborate and front porch common sense. Currently she serves as a resource for small businesses and helps HR and business owners stop shaking their heads about their employees. Learn more at or