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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Building Your HR Career

This post is especially dedicated to budding HR professionals who are looking for guidance on how to proceed with their careers. This is also specially dedicated to my Daughter Edleen who is taking up her Psychology Course in U.P. Pampanga (Update 2017 - She's now getting ready to leave for Australia to take her masters in HR Management). I hope that what I would share today can help you find the right path towards a successful career in Human Resource Management and Development.

Just like any other profession this career requires passion. If you are not passionate about this one, you shouldn't be in it. Otherwise your career will plateau very early... or you can become a mediocre HR Manager who is promoted to that position through sheer tenure or luck. (no offense meant to those who were promoted through sheer tenure or luck).

Having said all these, I guess I should first define what I would consider a successful stint in HR. I know a good number of people I would call successful HR practitioners. They are knowledgeable in most if not all facets of HR, have the ability to multiply themselves through others by sharing their expertise, and have developed a keen HR sense of the needs of their organization and can summon their wisdom to deal with these needs... And yes, they are paid well. That is because they are valued wherever they go. The successful people that I know possess or have developed these qualities that I believe younger practitioners should strive to emulate:

  • Hunger for Learning - HR Practitioners feed on knowledge. They are fascinated by topics that tackle human and organizational behavior. New technologies in human resource development, performance management, recruitment, benefits administration, labor regulations and the likes intrigue them. They try to make a connection of what they do and the business needs of the organization, so they are interested in information that will help them make that connection as well. My recommendation is for you to find the best way for you to learn these things. Read books, surf the net, talk to people or grab a chance to dip yourself into projects that will allow you to learn all these things by doing. Don't stop investing in learning, you will profit from it. HR Managers who do not broaden their knowledge run their departments by mimicking their former bosses. Don't be like them.
  • Successful HR Practitioners are unafraid of challenges... or at least they are able to project themselves that way. Many of them see a problematic company as an exciting source of challenge for them to demonstrate their ability to contribute to a company's turn around. they see a lack of resource as an opportunity to show resourcefulness and creativity. Many HR Managers a lot of them young, never cease to amaze me with the way they deal with complexities and limited resources in their organizations. These kinds of experiences just give them the opportunity to further strengthen their character. This is good because I believe that successful HR Management requires strength of character.

  • While an HR career can be quite rewarding, it can be very frustrating as well. The closer you get to the top, the more frustrating it gets. A great HR practitioner, knows how to detach herself and relax when things become very stressful. They know how to manage themselves when under stress. My recommendation is for you to look into this topic of stress management or personal effectiveness if you wish to grow old as an HR Practitioner without becoming bitter or cynical.

  • HR Practitioners model the way in manifesting corporate and work values. They are leaders. It doesn't matter if you are a manager or an assistant, your behavior at work will always be compared to their mental model of how HR should be. If you fall below these expectations, People will say... "HR ka pa naman!" I have always believed that HR Practitioners should have strong moral anchors. They should understand their own values and they do not compromise them.

  • Great HR Practitioners are great listeners. They listen not only with their ears, but their eyes and their heart. I maybe sounding very melodramatic here but I believe that this is true. We don't just hear things, we empathize and we process the information and by the guidance of our values assert our recommended course of action both to management and the employees.

  • Which brings me to one of the most important qualities that an HR Practitioner must develop; ASSERTIVENESS. Look into the meaning of this word.Understand it and practice it when you are dealing with employees and more importantly, when you are dealing with management. You need to build a decent level of self confidence and hard hardheadedness when you are absolutely certain that you know the answer.
While boxers lose their strengths and agility through the years, HR practitioners should get better and better. They do their best to make sure that they measure up to the standards of good HR practice and they continually raise the bar. I hope to see more of them in the new breed of HR practitioners to come.


  1. Christine8:14 AM

    Hi Sir Ed, Love the article. Very interesting and definitely worth emulating. But if I may add, in my opinion, consistency in implementation of rules and procedures could also come in handy. Wonder where we can put that in. =)

  2. Hi Christine, I believe Consistency is a category of its own. HR Practitioners should be fairly consistent and consistently fair... a little play with words there :) Thanks for the input.

  3. Anonymous3:02 PM

    i am really finding all these articles in here sooooooo helpful. tnx so much for making me know more about what goes on in HR.

  4. Anonymous10:16 AM

    hi sir! do you give seminars to those first timers HR practitioners? i will assigned to this field starting july 1, 2012. i have no idea nor experience in such field but the company/bank badly needs an HR/Admin head for the improvement of the company as well as compliance with the BSP regulations.. thanks.


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