How to Stay Current in HR When You Are Not Currently In HR


Keeping current in HR requires looking ahead.
I attended an HR dinner meeting the other night and was sitting at a table with a former student of mine who mentioned she was attending the meeting despite the fact that she was out of HR for the time being and had no immediate plans to return. (She was enjoying her opportunity to rear a long waited for baby.) She mentioned that the reason she was still going to meetings is that she did intend to go back to an HR job at some point in the future and wanted to keep up on the field.  She is not the only person to have that need. People who have been unemployed for long periods of time also have that problem. She asked me what I thought she should do… so here is my advice on how to stay current in HR when you are not currently in HR.
My first piece of advice was that she needed to find a variety of blogs that she enjoyed reading. They should cover various areas including compliance, legal, compensation, engagement, talent management and perhaps labor. You can simply set these up on Google reader and peruse them once or twice a week. But beyond reading them you need to comment on them as well. Express opinions and/or add you own observations on the subject. This will keep your name current in the field without having to write your own blog. Of course this means you CANNOT BE ANONYMOUS.
LinkedIn Groups
Naturally you will want to maintain your LinkedIn profile. You will want to expand it by belonging to groups associated with human resources. There is no shortage of these groups. As with blogs you want to use these to keep your name current by responding to questions asked by other members or by posing your own questions.
This still scares many people. I cannot tell you how many times in the last week I met people who said “There is no way I am doing that.” I think that is short-sighted. As with everything else you do it is just about time and image management. There are a number of tools to help you organize your Twitter world. But it allows you to be made aware of articles or other blog posts that will be informative. It allows you to pay attention to some very significant players in any given arena.
There are multiple webinars; many offered for free, that will keep you current. You find out about these through Twitter or by signing up for newsletters from various companies. Many law firms put on free webinars take advantage of them.
Other very valuable resources are the email newsletters that various companies and organizations send out. I receive them on trends, futurism, strategic HR, legal updates, safety, and a few others. Most can be read fairly quickly during some quiet time at Starbucks or when the baby is down for a nap. Search around or ask some of your LinkedIn or Twitter contacts for recommendations.
If you can swing it financially local SHRM conferences or SHRM National or some other group conference is always a good way to stay in touch with what is going on and also stay in touch with other professionals. If you are a stay-at-home mom it is also an opportunity to talk to adults that you don’t normally get during the day.
Those are some of my ideas, what else should I have told her? What are you doing or what are you telling others
BTW, if you have a suggestion for something I can read let me know, or if you want to have a suggestion leave a comment.

4 thoughts on “How to Stay Current in HR When You Are Not Currently In HR”

  1. Mike,
    This is a very pertinent point. As a senior level HR professional I found myself in transition when my former company ceased operations. The transition period lasted much longer than I anticipated so my focus was to stay current and relevant in the profession. With several networking groups of similarly situated HR leaders, we developed a sharing of expertise, brought in speakers on current topics and invited employed and transitional experts to be a part of the groups. This led to robust discussions, additional reading and the ability to know what the current conversations around specific issues were. With the speed of change occurring in and with our profession, you cannot afford to become “stale”. So stay involved; it pays off!

  2. In my case, the problem was not so much staying relevant and informed between jobs, but staying on top of HR developments in my current position, an operations management role with no formal HR responsibilities.
    All the above suggestions have definitely helped me. In addition to re-certification requirements, they have kept me in touch with my HR peers. But my fear, and I don’t think I’m unique in this situation, is that I am not using my HR skills to the degree that I have in the past. I’m keeping up the knowledge, but not the skills.
    I’ve had to become a bit of a salesman. I’ve offered my expertise to our site’s HR team–our generalist, trainer, admin, and OD folks. This has been somewhat successful, in that I have been able to contribute to some project teams. But I haven’t had the breakthrough opportunity I’ve been looking for. Also, each of these functions reports up to specific company-wide departments, so it it hard to leverage any of the successes into a narrative.
    My biggest success–slowly but surely–is that I am developing an internal brand. My boss and my closest peer have come to ask for my opinion on HR matters and advocate for me with the rest of the leadership team. I continue to look for that one big chance to show what I can do. Until then, I work on becoming something new–the Guy Who Knows Some HR Stuff. It will have to do for now.

  3. Thank you for these suggestions to keep up with the HR profession. These suggestions will help me keep updated on the new laws affecting the HR profession.
    Thanks again.

  4. Some of the better web sites for free webinars are:
    -Miller Law Group:
    -Fisher and Phillips:
    Also, here in the Los Angeles area, benefits broker Bolton and Company have been putting on some great free seminars and offering HRCI credits.
    Another important thing to do is to attend professional association meetings (SHRM, PIHRA, NHRA, etc.). These meetings not only keep you on top of the latest developments in HR, but they also help you to grow and keep your network alive.

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