Diversify Your Education!

utsa sombrilla

Tomorrow I am speaking with the SHRM-UTSA Chapter on HR Certifications. I’m looking forward to this, as the SHRM-UTSA Chapter is one of the places that I discovered that I had an interest in Human Resources!

Anyway, in thinking about what I will share with the students who come to our session tomorrow, I keep coming back to one thing.

Diversify your education.

College, University, and certifications figure significantly in this area, but a lot has to be said about “playing the long game” when it comes to amassing credentials and experience.

Imagine yourself 10 years into your career, where you are not alone in having your SPHR, a Masters Degree in HROD or your SHRM-SCP. Imagine your colleagues without those same credentials enjoying the same playing field in your company because of internal politics or on the job experience.

How will you separate yourself from the pack?

I ask the above not as a means of introducing a quick fix for getting hired or promoted, but as a means for contributing meaningfully to a team. When I say, “diversify your education,” I say it with an eye towards the future, where degrees and certifications matter a whole lot less than they do when you’re just getting started.

So 10 years from now, where do you want to be? When you look around the room, would you rather be one of the many who know HR (and only HR), or would you rather be someone who knows enough about HR to get your work done but is also skilled in operating a business, seeing projects through to fruition, or financial models?

If I have one critique about HR as an industry, it’s that it is far too easy to be an HR specialist and never have your own paradigms challenged. If you’re in HR, you are surrounded most often by HR people (and even more rarely, the people you serve), thinking and doing HR things in their own HR world.

My challenge to you then is to be one of those rare HR folks who knows the business of HR and the business of something else. Be the person in the room who can break down a forecast, who has a specific insight into the industry of your organization, or even better, be someone who knows how to run a business!

Certifications, in any profession, should never be seen as the end all be all of your professional education. They serve a great purpose, yes. That’s why I have and maintain my SPHR (and my SHRM-SCP if it ever comes in the mail). But let’s face it, I can’t walk into any room with my SPHR pin on and command the attention of everyone in it; actually, if that happened, it would be pretty scary!

You know what does command attention? Delivering results. Delivering results comes from being able to perform in a multitude of areas – dare I say – even those outside of HR. When you deliver results consistently, you’ll be well on your way to being highly trusted and in turn, at the start of a great career.

Image Credit: “UTSA cloudy (1)” by Zereshk – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons 

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