“Education is not filling a pail but the lighting of a fire. ~William Butler Yeats”
I loved school! I found it very inspiring. I recall the excitement of what was to come, meeting great people, networking and learning from inspiring teachers. Did you have similar memories and impressions?
But what happens next? You made it through the exams, you graduated and you are now excited to get into the job market and make your mark as an HR person. Where do you start? Where will you apply all this great information that you gained in school?
My advice is as follows:
- Gain work experience any way you can
- Sit back, observe and build relationships
- Continue to learn and always apply at least one idea to your workplace from every workshop you attend. Why just one thing? Read on.
If you don’t have a HR position lined up and are finding it difficult to find your dream job, you are not alone. I used to work in recruiting and can’t tell you how many times new grads called asking to be placed in Management positions. After they let me know they had no real life work experience, I would suggest they gain experience any way they can. You’re saying, all this time at school for entry level? No worries there. The experience you gain at this point in your career is instrumental in creating the HR professional you will become. Gain work experience any way you can. Volunteer for an organization and do HR related tasks, work at a company for free and assist the HR department with anything they need, ask to do a job shadow for the HR person at your workplace. Soak up all the experience you can get.
So you’ve volunteered, put in your time and now you have a shiny brand new HR role. You see a million things you want to change and policies that need to be written. There is no on-boarding process and no job description. What is the first thing you should do? Simple! Sit back and observe. Get to know the company and its history. At Purdy’s we call this ‘HP,’ historical perspective. Why? There is so much to learn about an organization and what happened before you arrived on the scene. Take time to explore what HR practices do exist, and build relationships with your co-workers at the same time. This works two fold. You will be prepared with information when you present a new idea to your boss, and your fellow employees will buy into you as an HR person. Respect and trust goes a long way in our profession.
Now that you’ve graduated, get back to school! The learning continues, and for good reason. You will attend many workshops, courses, conferences and webinars. What do you do with all this information? Always apply at least one learning tool from every educational event to your workplace environment. It is a good rule of thumb. Why only one thing you may ask? It is said that you only take away three things from every learning activity. Somewhere in all that information packed into one day or a few hours or a week, we grasp and remember a few points. From that, after everything is said and done, we should aim to implement one thing and make it a screaming success. Quality over quantity. I can count on one hand the initiatives I have implemented after learning them from workshops, and most were a great success and are still in place today. The best thing about continued education: Inspiration.
All advice aside, the most important thing of all is to have fun in your new role. And if you don’t find your dream job right off the bat, it will be out there for you one day and you will be armed with a goodie bag of work experience Good luck!