November 1, 2012

4 Easy Ways To Future Proof Your HR Career

save yourselfA survey by Mintel of over 2,000 workers found that one third of workers stay in a job for less than two years, which cements the idea that a job for life is now a thing of the past. The survey found that people were prepared to change jobs more often these days to further their careers while many were being made redundant, which is unsurprising in the current climate. Another more recent analysis by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the median tenure of workers in 2010 was 4.4 years with it being 3.1 years in the 25-34 age category.

This data tells us that HR professionals and recruiters, just like any other profession, can no longer simply rely on one organization, or maybe even two or three organizations to build their career.

Rather modern HR professionals will be likely to have a much more fragmented career path, moving from role to role and organization while at the same time keeping their eyes on an end goal, which is likely career progression and salary growth.

One organization will no longer be able to take them on their career journey, HR and hiring professionals will need to steer their own ship, they will need to develop and future proof their own careers. And below I have set out 4 important steps that HR professionals can take to do just this.

1. Taking control of your own career; be career agile

To succeed in the future, HR will need to take control of their own career which means setting short, medium and long term goals and then actively setting out to acquire the skills and work experience to achieve those aims. We need to be self determining, and the term that has been coined for this is Career Agile.

In fact, research from the The Career Engagement Group shows that around a third of us want to ‘fast-track our careers or take on more responsibility’ and over two thirds will even use our ‘own time to learn and acquire skills to help us reach our careers aims’.

2. Join organizations committed to offering career agility and development support.

Organizations are gradually waking up to the idea of Career Agility and are beginning to create self empowered learning environments that will enable staff to pro-actively set careers aims and identify and access learning within the organization to help them reach their career goals. Not all organizations are here yet, so when looking for jobs, place a premium on companies that support self empowered learning, ideally, but support for LD in general is a priority. If you join organizations that don’t facilitate LD you could easily stagnate.

3. Be patient and resilient and focused

Research from the CIPD shows that it takes an average of five career steps over a period of 20 years for HR professionals to reach the top, so don’t be disheartened if you don’t reach your career goals quite as quickly as you may like, or if you face setbacks. Remain positive and focused throughout.

4. Be proactive about technology; be an innovator and early adopter

The rate of technological change is staggering; that is “every 12 to 18 months, computers double their capacities and so do the information technologies that use them” suggests one leading Futurology Think Tank.  Cloud and mobile based HR technologies have already transformed the HR operating landscape and with the current rate of technological advancement, the HR technology/operational landscape is now likely to remain in a constant state of flux for decades to come.

There is no question that if you want to be a HR/Recruitment high-flier in the future, you must lead the way in identifying, driving and using new HR technologies. You must be technology fluent and able to quickly spot weak technologies and discard them and quickly embrace effective and empowering technologies. I believe this skill in particular will be a key differentiator of HR talent.

Of course, I don’t have a crystal ball, but I do believe that by looking at past and current trends in HR we can make sensible extrapolations into the future and prepare for them, that is future proof our HR careers. Please look out for the second article in this series which will be posted soon: 4 More Easy Ways To Future Proof Your HR Career.

I’d love hear to your thoughts on the future of the HR environment and how HR professionals can prepare for it.

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Kazim Ladimeji is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, and has been a practicing HR professional for 14 years. Kazim is the Director of The Career Cafe: a resource for start-ups, small business and job seekers.