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Career Tips

Columbia's Human Capital Management lecturers share advice and insights for virtually any phase of your career.

Is there a specific function or role you wish to purse? Search for a person who is currently in the role. Contact the person and ask if they are willing to provide a 15 -30 min discussion on the role. Use this time to ask about how they prepared for the role, how they enjoy the role, what are the challenges. This has resulted in providing realism to job roles. It has also resulted in job interviews."

Returning from maternity or parental leave is a great time to reevaluate your responsibilities. To better manage the new demands on your time, sit down with your manager during your first week back to clearly understand your priorities and discuss what you should do, delegate &/or drop."

Get versed on business transformation tools such as Jira, Confluence, Slack, and Trello. These are growing platforms deployed to communicate and manage projects."

Understand the demographics of the workplace when applying for positions. In gauging workplace inclusion, diverse leadership including in the managerial and supervisory ranks can signal the value that the company or institution gives to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI)."

Finance and Analytics have become increasingly important to assess and demonstrate HCM impact. Even if you 'don't like numbers,' learn what they mean, how to apply them and how to communicate them clearly to your internal and external partners."

Career growth requires you to step outside of your comfort zone. When you try new things, you can prepare yourself for bigger and better roles. Consider taking on difficult projects or tasks that you aren't comfortable with to expand capabilities."

Think Like a Futurist. Remember to keep your skills current and marketable by not only sharpening the skills you need to execute on your day to day deliverables but also by being in tune with new and emerging technologies and best practices in your field. It's your responsibility to keep your career development toolkit updated."

In India, when you buy vegetables from a farmer's market, the seller gives you a handful of green chilies or cilantro as "runga" - something that comes free with the vegetable that helps take your food preparation up a notch. When you are working on an initiative, think about what is it that you are offering as 'runga' - something extra that will help delight your stakeholder even if it is as small as following up with them to see if what you provided met their needs."

When job searching, informational interviews/coffee chats are a great way to get to know more about an organization you are interested in. You’d be amazed at who would be willing to take the time to speak. Just remember, it is NOT an opportunity to ask for a job, nor is it an interview."

Looking for a job is more than applying to companies for a role. Reflect on what you value and the vision you have for yourself and your career. Target your job search to those companies that most align with what you care about."

Be succinct yet specific in your communications. Overly verbose messages are an invitation for people to not read it."

Make yourself indispensable by anticipating what your boss and team may need before they ask for it. Place yourself in their position and ask, 'What can I do to make their lives easier?'"

When communicating to executive leadership it is important to include the financial impact of HR issues. The CEO, COO and CFO may not intuitively see the effect of HR infrastructure and issues on the overall organization. It will help you demonstrate the critical nature of your work if you show them this connection."

Be passionate about what you do!! Passion will bring excitement, joy and a sense of purpose to your work and to your career. Skill is also important but it is your passion that will bring you to even greater success."

My career tip for HR executives is to learn everything you can about how the actual business(es) you are supporting operate including the products, the customers, how the business makes money and the terms of art that the business execs use etc.. The more you know about the business, the more credible and effective you will be with the business executives with whom you need to partner."

Trust is a critical component of any successful relationship. This is no less true in the workplace, where trusting relationships between leaders and their teams enhance productivity and foster high performing work environments. Leaders in particular should recognize that trust is reciprocal -- in order to earn trust, they must be trusting of others. HR staff can demonstrate their strategic value by promoting these concepts within their organizations."

Networks help us gain access to resources and knowledge and create connections to one another. Find the time to not only expand your professional network but also fill it with people from all different backgrounds."

Get comfortable being uncomfortable. The greatest successes in my career have been in times when I took on a challenge that no one else wanted or raised my hand for something that I wasn't fully qualified for but knew that I had the underlying skills to do.  Learn to jump into those challenges and it will give you access to a career step that you would never have if you stayed in your comfort zone."

Adding value to your organization is critical for a successful career, Focus on discovering quantitative and qualitative insights and turning them into meaningful action. To do so, your research design should include a framework that evaluates what is implemented."