Today is the second of three posts about getting your HR career moving forwards, written by my good mate Tash Pieterse. I first came across Tash on Twitter (@TashTasticNZ) over three years ago when she was establishing NZLEAD with Amanda Sterling. She’s a passionate and enthusiastic senior HR generalist with a special interest in employment relations working in the private sector. She is also a strong networker who enjoys connecting and developing ideas with various thinkers around HR, social media and organisational change and has traveled to the UK to further her links with the HR community there through her connections on Twitter and through NZLEAD. By the way, her mentor sounds absolutely amazing! I wonder who he is?
Knowing what you need
2015 has been a hard but great year. It has challenged me personally in so many ways, but professionally, it got me thinking about what I needed to do to push my career forward.
For the last year I have been working as a consultant in a great forward thinking and growing business. As the market changed, changes needed to be made and it presented an opportunity for me to decide what I needed as a next step in my career.
I am in my fifth year of HR and I love the profession, I am adamant that we can make great changes and help businesses succeed. With the opportunity that I had been handed, it was a perfect time for me to consider what part I can play in helping businesses succeed, while also considering how I could give my career the right development that it needed to grow. It was clear to me that it was time to move back to an internal HR team and further develop my skills and experience and this was the perfect time to do that.
My mentor played a critical part in helping me choose the right roles to apply for and also to consider what I really needed in my next role. I didn’t want to pick my next role based on the fact that I needed a job, but to ensure that the next role was the right one for me.
I worked with a recruiter who sent through role after role, selling the good points of the role and outlining how the role met the criteria I had. With each role, I decided it still wasn’t the right one for me. But with some awesome interviewing skills, I was offered two great roles, both offering me what I needed and wanted, but in very different ways. Both were fixed term, which was perfect for me right now, however, both met my career development needs in different ways.
I decided to take the role that put me out of my comfort zone, the role that would put my skills and experience to the test and the role that would be very deliberate in growing me in the areas I critically needed. How did I know this was the right role for me? I had developed a professional development plan earlier in the year, which showed me the areas I lacked experience in and what I needed to do to get ahead in my career.
I knew what I needed and I had various discussions with my mentor about what he thought I needed too. My mentor has been active in my career for over two years now and knows me probably better than I know myself, professionally. He knew where my development areas were and he knew what areas I was already strong in, this made it easier to discuss the two roles with him. He did what any mentor should do, he probed me with questions, he asked me about each role, he asked me about what I thought I needed and then added in his pearls of wisdom in order for me to make a fully informed decision.
When I confirmed which role I would accept, he very happily agreed that it was the right choice.
The point I want to make is that you need to know what you want and what you need professionally. I’m not saying you should know exactly what you want your career to look like in 5 – 10 years (trust me, I don’t, and when my mentor asked me recently I was a little bemused), but I believe you need to know where you want to be at least in the next 12 – 18 months and then what it is that you need to get there. If I didn’t know that, I don’t think I would have made the choices that I did.
So, how did I know what I needed and how to get it?
- Career goals – I want to grow as an HR professional and want to be in a position where I can really create change within an organisation. To get there, I wanted to move to a senior role and then move to a management role. Knowing what I wanted my career to look like helped guide me to pick the role that would get me there. One of the best guides to picking the right role is knowing where you want to be next.
- Development plan – I have always been strong in my own professional development, through the NZLEAD community and my own learning it has been a big part in my career growth. A development plan helps you understand where your gaps are; it doesn’t focus on your ‘weaknesses’ but outlines where you need/want to grow and you can outline (along with your mentor/manager) on how to get it. Don’t wait for your manager to sit down and create a plan with you, use your initiative and build one yourself.
- Mentor/network – Having a mentor who understands you and your goals is great when considering new opportunities and also to assist you in seeking out new ones. Invest your time in finding a good mentor and utilise the networks around you as much as possible. Not just when you are at a crossroads in your career, but throughout it – they are more valuable than you know. Look at NZLEAD as an example.
Knowing what I needed and where I want to be helped me believe in myself, and that helped me push for the role I knew I deserved and needed.
2015 was tough but I am so excited for 2016, the opportunities and experiences will be exceptional!
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