After attending last Saturday’s CIPD MAP Student Conference I have been asking this very question myself. Throughout my career I have been a generalist, there is nothing wrong with this at all and to be honest a specialist route is one that I don’t think would suit me but it’s never something I would rule out, I just like variety.
It’s easy to say I’m going to work at Google and if you end up there is great but for many people the HR career journey has more plot twists than an episode of Coronation Street so yes you may want to work at Google, but the important part is the journey you take to secure your dream job. Consideration should always be given to career flexibility to avoid us becoming complacent and gain varying experience but we should be mindful of not stagnating our careers so it is a very complex balancing act but it can have greater impacts on our confidence if the decisions we make are the wrong ones.
When we are recruiting, if someone has moved roles a few times, they’re open to being negatively labelled as a “job hopper” but by being exposed to the thoughts of HR peers, isn’t it about time businesses adapted positively and accept that this could potentially be a view into the future of work? After speaking with fellow millennials, we often question is it a situation where an employer doesn’t set out the reality of their organisations then they risk quickly disengaging and failing to retain this group? It’s also not a case of simply recruit, see how it turns out and replace; this only starts a constant spiral so both employer and potential employee have a vested interest to set out clear expectations at the start of the relationship to avoid any “empty promises” which could then see a struggle to retain employees for the long term. In addition to this, it is not only the employee that will be disheartened, there are long terms business risks. If organisations fail to put into place a clearly defined succession plan and engage with modern changes then they simply cannot evolve by utlising millennial talent to develop their business, it has to be a joined up process, a balance between existing values married to modern values to remain competitive and recruit and retain the best talent.
Let’s consider this on a personal level; what happens if you find yourself in a position where you’re not enjoying your role (for whatever reason that may be). You are not going to be performing to the best of your ability and on the other hand your employer will not be seeing the standards of performance that they expect so a succession plan or career path is an essential tool to attract and retain the talent for the organisation. It’s not a case of one size fits all because what works for millennials will not necessarily work for those who have been in the organization for a substantial amount of time. Loyalty to organisations seems to be a rarer vision in today’s faster paced work environments which is a shame as it has worked successfully for various such as manufacturing; product knowledge, process and practicality go hand in hand, one simply cannot work without the other so industries like this are starting to see skills gaps emerging at an alarming rate which will require the knowledge and skill set to pass on to future generations.
So how does this all impact your decision making when it comes to you setting your career path? When considering your next move it is important to consider these things:
- What kind of HR professional do you see yourself as? Don’t jump on the trend bandwagon, find the path that is right for you and research the books out of it, ensure it’s right for you before you go for it, don’t just settle!
- When applying for jobs, research the organisation you are going into, look into their annual reports, google them to see how they are perceived as an employer, what they do to engage their employees etc. Find the answers to the questions that matter the most to you
- Trust your gut instinct – does the decision you are making feel right for you? I remember turning down a really amazing job opportunity at a highly sought after employer but every fiber in me said “don’t do it” and it turns out that I was right to call the decision I did, no regrets
- The age old question; where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time? Make sure you set out that plan to manage employers expectations and also your own to avoid disappointment, we are our own harshest critics and whilst the path to a good career isn’t always rosey, so make sure you are prepared for the occasional hiccups, learn from it, don’t tarnish yourself with negativity
- Review your own performance regularly, are you meeting your own expectations, are you on track to where you want to be, are there any development points to help you along the way?
Regardless of if your future lays with your current employer or a future employer, all I know is that the career journey is what you make it so don’t settle, enjoy the plot twists and remember to make the best of it.