Question from Reader: I am writing to you in regards to my daughter, Kendall. She’s a grad from the University of Tennessee–Knoxville with a Bachelor of Arts in communications and a minor in business administration. She is currently pursuing her MBA from the University of Phoenix in Memphis, Tenn., and will be completing this month. In 2012, she secured a job at Methodist University Hospital as an EKG monitor tech while she was pursuing her MBA.
Now that she is near completion, what steps does she need to take to get into the field of human resources, starting with recruiting or compensation? She had one interview with the compensation department, but was not chosen for the position.
Advice from Dana:
I’m going to answer this question in a way that is relevant to any individual who is starting out a new career. Regardless if entering HR, sales, marketing, operations, etc., these are all BIG departments that have many sub-segments. Within HR, Kendall’s interests may be in recruiting or compensation, however, the key is to learn as much as possible about HR in the first few years, minimally.
Therefore, here are my top recommendations:
Kendall should aim for the largest Fortune 500 company in her geographic target area. Why the biggest? First, Kendall will have credibility on her resume vs. a small or medium unknown name that others, later in her career, won’t recognize. It will show that she can work for big, complex organizations, learn world-class processes, and work for and with experts.
Kendall should enter as a generalist. In the case of HR, titles to aim for may include HR generalist, HR assistant, HR coordinator, etc. This way she will learn all of the various sub-segments within HR or may find that she likes being a generalist and simply expands her scope of responsibilities during her career.
Think about the future. In five years, when Kendall determines she wants to go into compensation only, wouldn’t it be more valuable to the future hiring manager that she has been a generalist and sees the big picture? She will know how all of the pieces work together. Plus, as a generalist, Kendall may find that she does not want compensation, which is super analytical, but instead wants recruiting, which has a lot of people interaction. Or neither!
Kendall should learn advanced techniques about the job search process, not just interviewing. As a hiring manager for 30 years, I have the perspective of a hiring manager on the other side of the table. I teach at multiple universities, including post-graduate courses, and I offer much more than the on-campus career placement center. There are many other excellent resources such as other books, webinars, videos and free blogs on the web.