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It’s Time to Pump It Up! Build Your HR Muscles By Taking These Ten Challenges

Posted by Elaine Varelas  July 2, 2012 09:00 AM

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Summer is often touted as an ideal time to slim down. It is swimsuit season after all. What if I were to tell you that it is actually a great time to bulk up? Bulk up your HR skills, that is! Summer is typically a slower time at work—people take vacations, deadlines get stretched and many projects are put off until the fall. While it may seem like an opportunity to slack off and set cruise control until the leaves change, you may wan to consider challenging yourself to be a better HR professional. You can take advantage of the slower pace to improve your HR prowess. Instead of checking out, engage. Consider tackling one or all ten of these challenges to heat up your career this summer:

1. Take a meeting—There are meetings that are a priority (think clients, managers, CEO) and those that you may try to avoid. Try saying “yes” to a meeting that you typically wouldn’t take. Say “yes” to those informational meetings, lunch with a vendor, or an appointment with a salesperson. You may also want to seek out a meeting. Is there a client or customer you’ve been coveting? A mentor in your field you’d like to meet? Most of us have a lighter schedule during the hotter months and you can often make these meetings happen. Use this time to build new relationships and learn from them. You never know where they may lead.

2. Get published—Work to get your name in print. Write an article or column for you company newsletter, a trade association publication, or your local newspaper or business magazine. You’ve got opinions and ideas about what is happening in your industry. Share them!

3. Blog it!—You may have more than just one idea for an article. In addition to getting published in a media outlet, you can also start your own blog on your company web site or through LinkedIn or another social networking site. Blogging is a great way to demonstrate your expertise, increase exposure for you and your organization, and connect with clients and job-seekers.

4. Try to be more social (media)—As an HR professional, you’re probably on LinkedIn. Have you tried Facebook or Twitter? You may believe that Facebook is too social for business or Tweeting is just a waste of your time, but how do you know unless you try it? Commit to a 30-day trial of a social media site you haven’t considered before. Even if you don’t continue your subscription, you’ll be able to make a more informed decision.

5. Those who do, teach!—Make a goal to become a teaching organization. Recruit a junior person on your team as a student and teach him or her how to do a part of your job. This doesn’t have to be a formal mentor relationship, you can spend a hour or two teaching someone about the what, how, and why of any task. Encourage other managers in the organization to do the same. This can build morale in the company and foster more informed and engaged employees.

6. Branch out—Look into joining a new trade group. Many professional associations take a summer hiatus from meetings, but you can start your research. What groups could expand your network? You many want to look at an organization outside of HR. What are some of your organization’s vertical industry groups? Where are your clients and customers members? Which associations have a membership similar to your organization’s wish list of recruits?

7. Team up and cross train—Make a point to work across divisions on a project. If your focus is in employee relations, team up with a benefits professional in your company. This practice will help your organization’s HR team work more cohesively together and help each member brush up on some broader HR skills.

8. Get a speaking gig—Look into presenting at a trade show, a local professional group meeting, or a college class to share your expertise. You can build your brand while you hone your public speaking skills.

9. Read a book—Summer is traditionally time to devour a trashy novel, but once you’ve read that pick up a business book. You may want to re-read one of your favorites or pick a new tome that you’ve been meaning to peruse.

10. Get certified—Make a commitment to your education and your career and get your Senior Practitioner in Human Resources (SPHR) certification. Sign up for the test or join a study group.

Forget summer slacking, it’s time to bulk up! By following some or all of these ten tips, you can increase your HR knowledge, marketability, and expertise. Take advantage of the slower pace at the office and make a commitment to yourself and your career this summer and strengthen your HR muscles!

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Featuring human resources advice and columns from The Boston Globe's On Staffing and Hire Authority writers.

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