Your Career Q&A: Moving Onward and Upward


By Martin Yate August 21, 2018

Best-selling author Martin Yate, a career coach and former HR professional, takes your questions each week about how to further your career in HR. Contact him at the e-mail address at the end of this column. 

When I was 22 years old, I had my first opportunity to perform managerial work. Now I am 24 and my experience is greater than my age seems to signify. Where do I go from here? I don't want to do less challenging work, and I still need to explore and understand my career preferences.

You are young and have already established a superior track record, so your options are almost limitless. I believe you're trying to identify the most desirable long-term goal(s) for your professional career so that you can pursue the sequence of jobs that will deliver the experience and credentials needed to achieve the goal.

Start by identifying the highest-paying—and, by inference, the most influential and most prestigious—jobs in HR. A Google search for "highest-paying HR jobs" gives you a huge variety of results, but I'd start with  this resource.

Then research the professional steps you'll need to take for the positions that have piqued your interest. I did searches for "path to training and development manager," "training & development" and "training & development growth skills" on the SHRM website and got hundreds of hits for each search phrase. Not all will be relevant to your needs, but they'll help you steadily bring a fulfilling and practical goal into focus. Additionally, the SHRM Career Resources page will add substantially to your professional knowledge base.

After identifying your top job choices, use the SHRM groups on SHRM Connect, LinkedIn and Facebook to find senior colleagues who have made it to where you want to go. Read their profiles and see the steps they took to move forward. Then reach out and ask their advice.

Many years ago, I wanted to get out of executive recruitment (highest-paying HR job) and into training & development (fourth highest-paying HR job). I identified the best and most influential professionals in my space. I then approached the No. 1 guy, asked a question and made a promise. "I've watched you and am incredibly impressed with your skills," I said. "I want to be as good as you one day. Will you be my mentor? In return, I will work extremely hard for you and support you at all times, in all matters." That conversation changed my life.

Because you are young, a senior professional is likely to be flattered and not threatened by your proposal. There's no need to restrict yourself to just one mentor. Attend the SHRM chapter meetings in your area and get to know the people who make up the inner circle of your profession. You will meet people who hold every job title between where you stand today and where you want to stand tomorrow.

Have a question for Martin about advancing or managing your career? From big issues to small, please feel free to e-mail your queries to We'll only publish your first name and city, unless you prefer to remain anonymous—just let us know.

Packed with practical, honest, real-world guidance for successfully navigating common HR career challenges, Martin Yate's new book, The HR Career Guide: Great Answers to Tough Career Questions (SHRM, 2018), is available at the SHRMStore. Order your copy today. 


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