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Setting a Path for Young HR Professionals

Studying to enter the human resource management field?

Here’s a great way to learn the ropes, set a career course and make contacts before you ever leave the college classroom: join the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

Professional associations like this are not just for professionals. These organizations are happy to train, groom and teach the newest up and coming stars in their fields.

And SHRM is among the best when it comes to setting HR professionals on the path to success.

Director of Academic Initiatives for SHRM, Nancy Woolever, MAIS, SPHR, has outlined a list for HR students to follow as they complete their education and move into the field in order to be successful.

First, become involved with your local SHRM chapter. “A lot of professionals are just as interested in meeting students and giving them internships,” Woolever said. In fact, making those early connections, and leveraging as many opportunities as possible to complete an internship may help students land an HR job after graduation.

“Every time we do a study, consistently 90 percent of employers or above require at least six months, but preferably a minimum of one to two years of experience in HR to get your foot in the door for an interview,” Woolever said. “How are you going to do that if you haven’t taken internships?”

Next, even after you have the internship under your belt, keep your connections with SHRM. When students convert their membership from student to professional status, they also get an upgrade. The professional membership give members access to professional development opportunities, conferences, seminars and virtual programs to members fresh in their career and knowledge base.

Also, a shift to professional status gives members access to SHRM’s knowledge center online which is staffed by seasoned HR professionals to answer member’s questions and point them toward resources.

SHRM’s website also offers a way for young professionals to connect in their local area. “The program is neat in that it connects them with people who are likely going through the same types of issues they are going through,” Woolever said.

After a student has graduated and become established in their career, Woolever said SHRM pushes its members to gain the competency required of all HR professionals.

Upon graduation, Woolever said students will have mastered their technical expertise. SHRM has modeled eight additional behavioral competency models for HR professionals to develop over the course of their career. They have also determined through extensive, global studies what order professionals should master each competency in order to move to the next career stage.

The last step Woolever lays out for students is to strongly suggest they become certified. Student members of SHRM can pursue the certified professional rating as seniors, as can young professionals. Students pursuing bachelor’s degrees can also sit for the industry’s Capstone exam up to one year before and one year after graduation.

While students can certainly start their career with an associate’s degree, Woolever highly suggests students make their goal to have at least a bachelor’s degree.

“If they’re seriously considering HR as their life’s work, they should seriously start with a bachelor’s,” Woolever said. “A lot of people do go back for a master’s of science in HR or an MBA with a focus in HR. It’s not only for the betterment of the profession but for the betterment of the individual in achieving long-term career goals.”

See all that SHRM has to offer its members by visiting www.shrm.org

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