Your Career Q&A: Pursuing Professional Development in HR

By Martin Yate Apr 25, 2017

​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.

This week, Martin answers two questions on keeping up-to-date on HR.

I have a master's degree in information systems and a bachelor's degree in human resources management diploma, I'm certified SHRM-CP and PHRI, and I'm currently working to advance my career by preparing to take the SHRM-SCP. I have 3.5 years of work experience, all of which is in the HR field only. I'm wondering how best to pursue my professional and ongoing education.

I earned a master's degree in human resource management in 2010. However, I did not start working in the HR field until 2014. I've tried to grasp as much knowledge as possible while on the job, but I still feel there's so much that I do not know, and it also seems almost impossible to grasp enough that will enable me to advance in the field. Do you have any suggestions on how I can gain more HR knowledge/practice and keep up-to-date on important news/events in the field?


We live in a time of specialization. Professions have become increasingly complex, and so we typically try to carve out a niche within our chosen professions. Even then, the continuing disruption of new technology makes keeping up just within your specialty a challenge.

[SHRM members-only HR Q&A: Career Development: What educational resources should I consider to further my HR career?]

I recommend you not try to be a jack-of-all-trades, unless your goal is to work for small companies with one- and two-person HR departments. Instead, identify the different specialties within the HR world and then research how many people are working within those specializations ( is a good resource). The number of people within a specialty speaks to its importance and will give you more options in both good economic times and bad.

Of the many viable options, benefits and talent management are worth considering. Once you find an area that fits your needs, you then work to become a superior performer in that specialty.

At the same time, you cannot let your general HR knowledge lag. You can keep pace by retaining your current thirst for knowledge and attending monthly meetings of your local Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) chapter, where you will meet the best connected and most committed HR professionals in your geographic area.

As a member of SHRM, you have one of the most comprehensive professional support websites in existence. I cannot think of an HR-related topic that is not addressed on the website, with deep dives into many areas. Plus, at the bottom of every page are links for live chat, e-mail addresses or telephone numbers for further advice.

Try visiting the website an hour a night for a week and exploring different topics. If you choose a topic with which you are already familiar, you'll get a brush-up. For those topics you don't know much about, you'll get a fast education. In the process, you will become much better educated on the full spectrum of HR competencies. I think this is where your search for the next appropriate credentials to pursue begins.

Have a question for Martin? E-mail your queries to We'll only publish your first name and city, unless you prefer to remain anonymous—just let us know. We look forward to hearing from you!

Knock 'em Dead 2017: The Ultimate Job Search Guide, written by New York Times best-selling author Martin Yate, CPC, is just 99 cents from April 27 to May 7. Available from Amazon, and iTunes.

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