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Virtual CHRO: 3 Tips to Navigating Career Decisions

Virtual CHRO: 3 Tips to Navigating Career Decisions

Confusion, fury, and speculation erupted when a recent announcement from the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) that they career, success, decisionsare developing a new certification. The announcement from SHRM encouraged those who hold the SPHR or PHR certification to convert their certification to the new competency based certification, even though it is unclear what the new certification entails. Not only surprise rippled through the HR community, but surprise was also expressed by HRCI, the official administrator of the SPHR, PHR certifications.  In the end, HRCI remains committed to the long-standing and well recognized SPHR and PHR certifications.

Dedicated to professionals who are currently navigating career decisions, this collaborative article was written by Tresha Moreland, SPHR, founder of HR C-Suite and Rosanna Nadeau, SPHR, Principal and consultant of Prism Perspectives.

3 career tips:

1) Pay attention to the market 

Its what the market demands that should matter the most to those considering what credentials to pursue. Many people and entities have opinions on what you should do or earn. But if it is a desire to achieve an executive level position, set aside all the confusion of these new events, and look at senior level job postings advertised today.

Take a close look at what credentials employers are asking or requiring.  Most senior level HR positions advertise they are looking for at least 10+ years experience, a master’s level degree, and a SPHR/PHR certification are preferred/required.

It is true the market shifts over time and we must adjust. But if you are currently unemployed or looking to make the next leap to a senior level position right now, take a close look at what the market demands.  Your path becomes clearer after the market evaluation you’ve conducted.

2) Find a mentor 

If you remain uncertain about which career direction to take, consider finding a mentor.  A mentor can improve your work experience. The ideal mentor provides a safe and impartial “sounding board.” Mentors will also provide information based on their own experiences and expertise. This can be invaluable and help to avoid making career mistakes.

Consider talking with senior HR executives you know from present and/or prior work experiences.  You might also find a mentor from within diverse groups who can support you in choosing and prioritizing the degrees and professional certifications that will best contribute to achieving your career goals.

3) Celebrate your accomplishments

Don’t let these recent events minimize your accomplishments. If you recently earned your PHR or SPHR celebrate it.

The SPHR and PHR professional certifications have been based on the HR body of knowledge, demonstrate strong professional knowledge and credibility for those who have successfully achieved these certification(s).  The pass rates alone for these certifications indicate they are not just easily handed out. HRCI reports for December 2013 –January 2014, the SPHR pass rate is 57% and PHR pass rate is 59%.

If you recently passed or have earned a professional certification, be proud of that fact. In fact, any thing you’ve worked hard on and accomplished whether it be a degree or experience, celebrate it. Don’t let anything take your sense of accomplishments away.

Ultimately success requires that we continually pursue the knowledge and skills to be competitive. It’s important that we pay attention to what the market demands and trends are, ignore the distractors, and keep going for it with all you’ve got.

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Tresha D. Moreland, MBA, MS, FACHE, SPHR, SSBBP, founder of HR C-Suite, is an HR thought leader in Human Resource Strategic Management. She has held key human resource leadership roles for over 20 years in multiple industries most recently a senior vice president in the healthcare industry. Tresha is the founder and publisher of HR C-Suite ( HR C-Suite is a game changer results-based HR strategy website. It is a first-of-it's-kind site that organizes HR strategy based on desired business result. She has developed a business philosophy of integrating human resources with business strategy, thus creating a hybrid HR leadership approach. This approach enables the leveraging human resources to achieve business results.

  1. I like the article articulating the 3 tips navigating toward the C-suite for HR professionals. However, let me interject that there is also a fundamental question that HR pros who wish to make a career in this field must answer. The question is if you goal is to get to the C-suite and be a part of senior management, what is the best way to get there? Usually, individuals with interest in HR take any job they can get just to get into the field. That might be a mistake. However, there is another choice and a way to the top. The choice is do I join a small company in the HR department and be limited to learning experiences based on limited resources and a mixed view of the value of HR? Or, do I attempt to find a position in a larger organization with a larger HR department with functional sections or departments in which I can gain a deeper knowledge base while still with an eye to the top? Both choices are good ones, except that it is sometimes more difficult for a person in a small HR department to move up to a larger organization. A person in a larger company with more in-depth experience in several different functional areas may have a better chance at a CHRO position than most. The second decision to be made within the first 5 years in HR is to decide if a functional HR position and a specialist role is your cup of tea. There is great value in being a functional specialist in HR but those chosing to be a CHRO may find they lack the broader experience. But, job satisfaction is more important in the long term than having a job that is inconsistent with your career goals. Thus in the end, if being a CHRO is your goal, make your choices wisely, gain as much experience in all areas of HR and plan your career accordingly, which by the way will mean a) moving from one company to another b) a geographic relocation and c) a longer term look at your career objectives in the first five years in HR. Staying one place too long is a career killer. Thus, your upward mobility should also have a reason for moving or taking another job. But, in the end the goal remains the same – C-suite or not. Specialist or CHRO. Your choice.

  2. Ron, I agree with your points but would offer another. For individuals who aspire to the C-suite and the proverbial ‘seat at the table’ I would strongly encourage finding an organization that allows if not promotes cross functional assignments. In my opinion there is no more eye opening experience than to step out of HR and into an operations role. Not only will you see the business from a different perspective but when/if you return to a HR role you will have a deeper awareness of the impact any new HR program or initiative may have on the business flow.
    I’ve always felt that if I had a staff member who wanted to make such a move that it was a win-win for me. If they decided that they enjoyed the new role and chose not to return to a traditional HR position, I would gain an ally in the organization. If they returned they brought back to HR a new awareness of our client’s challenges and needs.
    Possessing in-depth HR technical knowledge is admirable but combined with practical front-line management experience creates powerful qualifications for those with their eye on the C-suite.
    For those willing to take the leap, the credibility gained across the organization is vital.

  3. Jim and Ron,

    Thank you for your comments. Your points are well taken.


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