Leadership Matters
Pin It

By Phil Wilson

On June 7, scores of Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) candidate hopefuls will be sitting down to write the National Knowledge Exam – a crucial first step in earning the CHRP designation.

These days, the CHRP is becoming “table stakes” to entering the human resources profession. In fact, according to last year’s PayScale survey (Fuel for HR Careers), among employers listing jobs on the Hire Authority HR job board, demand for the CHRP has jumped 94 per cent between 2007 and 2013. Seventy per cent of HR jobs now require the designation.

Earning the CHRP will get your foot in the door, but it’s what you do once you land that first HR job that will set you apart.

A very important decision is to determine whether there’s any particular area of human resources you want to specialize in. Once you attain an entry-level position – whether it is in recruiting, compensation, employee relations, payroll, etc. – it is critical to learn that discipline in depth and seek out client interactions to help you gain a better understanding into how the role fulfills client needs.

Once you have gained three or four different experiences in various HR disciplines, it will help you decide if you would prefer to become a specialist in an area that you are passionate about or if you would prefer to become a generalist. You can have a great career with either choice.

Whether you choose to specialize or be a generalist, how far you go will depend on how well you know the business you’re in.

In 2010, the Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) and Knightsbridge Human Capital partnered on The Role and Future of HR: The CEO’s Perspective, a whitepaper examining how Canadian chief executives perceive the role of senior HR executives.

While all agreed that senior HR executives are valued contributors and trusted advisors on equal footing with executives from other business areas, CEOs also expressed how important it is for the senior HR executive to have a thorough understanding of the business. As one CEO said, “The senior HR executive [needs to be] a business person first and an HR leader second.”

I agree: a good HR professional’s job is to maximize the effectiveness of people to deliver results, and to do that you need to be fully integrated with the business you support – and that requires full understanding of how the organization generates revenue as well as its challenges, opportunities and competitors.

Learn as much as you can about the business, learn the jargon, understand the acronyms, seek out mentors and build your network – it will all be critical to your success and lead you to a fulfilling and rewarding career.

There is no ideal or mapped out paths from a career perspective. Be open to learning all that you can about the business and the human resources profession.

And to those of you writing your NKE in June, I wish you the very best on your exam and in your career.

Phil Wilson, CHRP, SHRP is chair of the Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA).

Pin It