If through this gap analysis you discover that you're not in your ideal employment situation, you shouldn't automatically quit your job and look elsewhere. Many variables come into play in this type of decision: Perhaps your current job situation is preparing you for the next step in achieving of your job utopia, or you might be gaining necessary experience that you can draw upon in the future. Most importantly, your personal growth goal should be to make sure that you take the necessary actions to reach your desired end state. These include:
- Network! You'll notice that most of these recommendations center around this common concept. I can't stress enough the importance of professional and social relationships in your personal and work lives. Keep in mind that most job and project opportunities are not advertised, but are gained through networking relationships!
- Get involved with a local or national professional association (such as the Society for Human Resource Management, the American Compensation Association, etc.).
- Subscribe to a professional periodical (most of the time subscriptions are included through membership in a professional association, e.g., HRNews and HRMagazine from SHRM)
- Subscribe to industry and/or business periodicals that will ensure that you are up-to-date on the latest trends and developments
- Keep doing what you're doing right now: use the Internet to do your own research on current trends and developments while tapping into the Internet's vast networking capabilities (chat rooms, postings, online communities, electronic newsletters). Many Internet Service Providers feature news services that e-mail articles to you based on key words you have stipulated in your profile (e.g., AOLNews). Subscribe to them and read/skim them daily!
- Continue your education. It's never too late to start, and you can never be too informed. There are many schools that offer evening and weekend (and now even, online!) courses to cater to working professionals who want to finish a degree or start a new one. While obtaining a degree may not always help in your current employment (you're already there, aren't you?), it will come in handy when you are looking to switch companies or get promoted. You'll be astounded at the number of networking and job opportunities to which you'll be exposed from your fellow classmates, professors, and the school's placement office.
- Get certified! Increasingly, more and more employers are asking for their HR candidates to obtain PHR or SPHR certification. Just do it! It won't hurt, and it doesn't take long to get. For more information, check out SHRM's web site at www.shrm.org.
- Attend professional seminars from SHRM, IQPC, and the like. They not only give you a chance to immerse yourself in areas of concentration with which you may be interested or unfamiliar, but they provide opportunities for you to meet peers from every industry and country. You will also be able to catch up on myriad products and services available to make your job easier, all in one place!
- Manage your reputation: present a professional, competent image at all times, in all business dealings, and in all directions (this includes your managers, peers, subordinates, clients, and vendors). All of these people can make or break you - it doesn't hurt to be civil and respectful of everyone!
- Identify a moral, respectable mentor either within or outside of your organization. Meet with him/her regularly (lunch?) and bounce off ideas and concepts.
Engage in these ten areas and you'll reap the rewards of being a networked, informed, recognized, and career-savvy HR professional. You do it for others -- don't you owe it to yourself?
We're all familiar with the tale of the cobbler who was so busy outfitting the townsfolk that his children went shoeless. Human Resources professionals often find themselves in the same situation as the shoemaker's children. We spend our entire careers taking care of others and rarely get the opportunity to step back and evaluate our own needs and career aspirations. I invite every HR professional to spend some quality time thinking about your ideal job. What would you be doing? Are you cultivating your strengths and weaknesses? Consider your likes and dislikes. Are you people-oriented or do you prefer working alone or on machines? What tasks do you prefer? Are you happier working for a large corporation or do you see yourself as an independent consultant? Finally, how does your current job situation meet these needs?