The field of Human Resources attracts those who are energized by a high level of engagement with their community and enjoy the challenge of making it a better place to be. Whether you’re launching a career in HR from the ground up or you gradually gravitated towards the HR department after serving in another role, the field holds exciting growth opportunities in a variety of industries.
Here’s a collection of tips that will help you maximize your education as a Human Resources Administration major.
1. Stay Informed of HR Laws
In Human Resources, laws and policies are constantly changing.
“When I first started in HR, I was not as well informed of the HR laws as I should have been,” shares Carol Kilmister, faculty member and Human Resources Consultant at Primex in Concord, NH.
If you’re new to HR, be sure to connect to the proper resources—such as professional organizations, workshops, and LinkedIn groups—so you can stay current on the latest developments in your field..
2. Make Friends with Your Local SHRM Chapter
Speaking of staying up-to-date on HR law and policy, a great way to accomplish this is by joining the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). There are chapters nationwide, including the Northeast regional chapter and six additional affiliates in New Hampshire: Greater Concord, Manchester Area , Greater Nashua, Greater Merrimack Valley in Salem, Greater Monadnock in Keene, and the Seacoast.
3. Find Your Seat at the Table
“The HR role is shifting from a traditional ‘transactional’ role towards a more current ‘strategic’ role,” shared Kilmister. This presents a challenge for HR professionals to develop a stronger strategic perspective. In your career, find creative ways to get a seat a table: ask to sit in on a departmental meeting in another area of the company, or find other meaningful ways to connect. This will give you the opportunity to listen to organizational needs, which helps you understand the impact of your work on the big picture.
4. Master the Art of Presenting
“As HR professionals, we have to do a lot of presenting: new hire orientations, compliance and safety training, and benefits overviews are ongoing,” explained Tammy Esmaili, one of our Human Resources Administration faculty members.
Developing effective communications skills while you’re a student will help you deliver more engaging and informative presentations on the job. Consider taking communications courses, such as Interpersonal Communication & Group Dynamics or Persuasive Communication as elective courses to ensure that you maximize your experience in the classroom.
Shannon Wright, a current student who serves as the Regional Vice President at Wilson Employment Services, further explains the significance of solid communication skills and how they’re incorporated in the professional environment: “HR professionals become great communicators once they have entered the field. They learn to listen and read between the lines. This is important to problem solving and decision making, which is a large portion of any HR position.”
5. Customize Your Education Experience
As an undergraduate pursuing a B.S. in Human Resources Administration, you may want to select a minor to tailor your studies to your career goals. Options include finance, healthcare, management, marketing, and more.
If you’re pursuing a master’s degree, the M.S. in Leadership features a Specialty Track Option in Human Resources—a compelling combination that can help lead you to more sophisticated roles in HR.
Faculty member Carol Kilmister explained the importance of pursuing her graduate degree.
“I went back to school to work on my master’s degree. This completely turned my perspective around and allowed me to be more proactive in addressing HR issues.”
6. Understand the Connection between Diversity, Company Culture, and Performance
Building a dynamic company culture comprised of people from different backgrounds is challenging and HR professionals are at the forefront of finding effective methods that will result in a highly engaged, collaborative, and productive workforce.
Homogeneous teams are more likely to experience "group think," or the tendency to seek consensus and avoid presenting alternatives, critiquing a position, or expressing unpopular opinions. This is problematic according to research from the Korn Ferry Institute, a firm specializing in leadership and talent. This can be limiting and cause teams to avoid an opportunity to explore a really smart solution. In extreme cases, this behavior could even cloud an organization's ability to make common sense decisions. In a business environment where companies always need to seek a competitive edge, having a diverse team can help leverage the differences and achieve better performance.
As a student, it’s important to take courses that will offer insight to this complex area of human resources and organizational development. Managing Diversity, Organizational Behavior, or Cross-Cultural Communication are all great course options!
7. Become Fluent in Data Analysis
Businesses are always looking for opportunities to strengthen their data-driven decision making skills and HR plays a critical role in this movement. You must be able to interpret business needs and use metrics to make recommendations that best serve the organizational needs.
“If you’re going to school to expand your career in human resources, it’s important to become useful with excel and knowledgeable of HR data,” recommends Tammy Esmaili, Human Resources Faculty.
Software Tools, Introduction to Fiscal Management in Health Care, and Statistics are courses that can each help you build these competencies and analyze data like a pro.
Thank you to faculty members Carol Kilmister and Tammy Esmaili, as well as current student Shannon Wright, for sharing these insights with our aspiring HR professionals!