Industry Insights: Careers in Human Resources

Tingting Zhou, a Master’s candidate in the Human Reource Management and Development Program at NYU who is expecting to graduate May 2015, and Ross Brand, a Master’s candidate in the Human Resource and Development Program at NYU who is expecting to graduate May 2014, both attended Industry Insights: Careers in Human Resources on Friday March 28th.  The NYU Wasserman Center@SCPS hosted a panel featuring Slyne Louissaint, Real Hospitality, Tim Collins, IBM, Annmarie Payne, Blue Engine, Jeanelle Degraffenreid, First Protocol, and Christina Caruso, Tommy. They are from different industries such as hospitality, fashion, IT (IBM), non-profit, and event services.

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Here are six valuable tips shared by the panelists:

1. Know your business and brand

As an HR professional, it is critical to know your business. HR professionals are the first point of contact at their organizations and serve as examples for other employees. You need to be conscious of your role in protecting and maintaining the brand by how you conduct yourself and your knowledge of the company. Know the business, its financials and its competitors. Be able to speak the language and utilize the terminology that people in your business and industry employ.

2. Data is your friend

More firms are leveraging HR predictive analytics to obtain insights on which candidates to hire, how to identify the factors contributing to successful employee performance and what measures are more likely to retain key talent. Analytics is all about data. Excel skills are essential for carrying out many HR roles. HR professionals can stand out from their peers by understanding how to use Excel (macros, pivot tables), learning about workforce analytics and predictive analytics, and knowing how to talk about financial information.

3. Pick the right industry for you

HR professionals increase their chances for success when they find organizations and industries that fit their personalities. The panelists agreed on the importance of being knowledgeable about the industry in which you want to work and having a hunger to learn more about that industry. It is critical both to research different industries when searching for a new opportunity and know yourself. Jeanelle Degraffenreid mentioned conducting informational interviews to learn from professionals in your preferred industry.  Slyne Louissant added that if you have experience in another industry and want to switch, be open to trying new things and focus on your transferable skills.  You can think about your past experiences and highlight those that apply in your current search.  Finally, don’t forget to ask questions in interviews. While the interviewer is trying to find out if you are the right fit for the organization, you have every right to determine if the company and department will be a good place for you. For example, are you more comfortable carrying out tasks individually or working on a team? Use the opportunity to ask questions in an interview to gain valuable insights on what it is like to work at that organization.

4. Network, network and network

Some panelists believe 90% of jobs come from networking. Apart from LinkedIn, Tim Collins also recommended Twitter as a great tool for learning from, and interacting with, professionals in your industry. Read articles from publications such as Harvard Business Review posted by respected professionals and industry leaders you follow. Join Twitter Chats such as #TChat (Talent Culture Chat), which focuses on talent. Collins also shared a program at IBM called Social HR to illustrate the point that even the most conservative organizations are seeing value in going social and that social media is another area in which aspiring HR practitioners can contribute to their organizations. Christina Caruso recommended being authentic in social media and in your online brand while also being careful with what you share.  Annmarie Payne added that you should know what you have accomplished and come up with three things to brand yourself.  This will leave a positive impression on the people with whom you are networking.

5. Think outside the box

While everyone knows the importance of developing LinkedIn contacts and applying to jobs through company websites, creative people have landed jobs by visiting the company and even interacting directly with the CEO. Of course you will have to do sufficient research on the company and industry before implementing such creative job search tactics. Some panelists believe the paper resume is dying and that your online brand is becoming more important. Many applicants are also sending video resumes to HR. Candidates, who are good on camera, can engage the audience with more impact on video than on a paper resume. Nonetheless, it is still critical to have a paper resume that is appropriate for your target industry and free of grammatical errors and other typos. A splash of color may work well on a resume for a firm in a creative industry, but it might be a turnoff in a more traditional organization. All the HR professionals agree it is the time for jobs to chase candidates rather than candidates chasing jobs.

6. Look beyond traditional HR specialties

Compensation and Recruiting are fine career choices, but you can find opportunities to make a name for yourself and advance your career by contributing in such areas as Global Mobility, Diversity, Analytics and HR Technology. Panelists also recommended obtaining HR certifications.

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