The Road to HR Career Success

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SHRM conducted research with HR professionals like yourself to identify which developmental activities they consider most instrumental to improving immediate performance and fostering readiness for long-term goals in an HR career. The results of SHRM’s top 10 developmental activities research are highlighted here in rank order to guide HR practitioners at all career levels in their professional journey. Leverage these findings to build behavioral and technical proficiency in the competencies necessary for HR success.

Early Career

Early Career Level:

  • Little to no experience
  • Supports operational functions
  • May lead small-sized projects
  • Carries out the HR plan at the transactional level

1. Receive mentoring6. Shadow a colleague
2. Receive coaching 7. Join a cross-functional team for an internal initiative
3. Attend an in-person course through a college/university8. Attend a conference
4. Attend an online course through a college/university9. Network with other professionals in your organization
5. Enroll in an online daily or weekly HR news alert or practice exercise10. Attend an in-person course through an organization other than a college/university


Mid Career

Mid Career Level:

  • Moderate experience
  • Leads or supports operational functions
  • Manages small- to mid-sized projects
  • Implements the HR plan and contributes to its refinement

1. Receive mentoring6. Participate in a developmental assignment in another functional area
2. Receive coaching 7. Join a professional organization
3. Participate in project-based work activities8. Attend a conference
4. Join a cross-functional team for an internal initiative9. Attend an in-person course through a college/university
5. Network with other professionals in your organization10. Shadow a colleague

Senior Career

Senior Career Level:

  • Significant experience
  • Serves as high-level strategic and/or operational leader or as experienced HR consultant
  • Oversees large or multiple programs or projects
  • Operationalizes HR strategy and translates strategy into a plan

1. Receive mentoring6. Network with other professionals in your organization
2. Receive coaching 7. Join the board/committee of a cross-functional team for an internal initiative
3. Participate in project-based work activities8. Participate in a developmental assignment in another functional area
4. Join a cross-functional team9. Join a professional organization
5. Participate in a community of practice

10. Take an assignment outside of your home country

Executive Career

Executive Career Level:

  • Extensive experience
  • Holds the highest-level, strategic leadership role in an organization or serves as highly experienced HR strategy consultant
  • Peer group is the other executives in the organization
  • Develops HR strategy

1. Receive mentoring6. Receive coaching
2. Participate in a developmental assignment in another functional area7. Network with other executives in your organization
3. Join the board of a professional organization8. Join a professional organization
4. Participate in a community of practice9. Join the board/committee of a cross-functional team for an internal initiative
5. Participate in project-based work activities10. Participate in a round table with other professionals
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