Your Career Q&A: Data Analytics Could Be Your Big Break

Martin Yate By Martin Yate July 9, 2019
Your Career Q&A: Data Analytics Could Be Your Big Break

​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.

We have all heard about how the HR professional needs to "skill up" in today's world, by obtaining skills such as succession planning and understanding and utilizing data.

I recently started working at a new company in a newly created position. Our HR department is very knowledgeable and experienced; however, when it comes to data, not many people here know how to utilize it, organize it and present it for business decisions. I'm being asked to create my own performance standards and make this position what I am most interested in, and what would be most beneficial to the company.

I'm reaching out to you to find ou
t what areas you think HR professionals need to improve or learn? Where are some hot areas that every HR department should be paying attention to? Do you or SHRM have any resources to help with data in the field of HR?

Organizations have been collecting data for years but storing it in separate "silos": customer sales data and vendor information collected in one department, HR and employee data in another, financial reporting in a third, and so on. Lots of data but not accessible in ways that allow an organization to easily leverage the collective wealth of this information.

Now we have moved into the age of Big Data, where all these different silos of information are merged into a single source, a "single center of truth," giving an organization a wealth of unconnected and therefore untapped information to make better business decisions for the financial health and well-being of the organization.

Professionals involved in the collection, organization and manipulation of data to help an organization leverage this information to make better business decisions are closely connected to the overwhelming imperative of every company: increasing profitability and growth. And professionally speaking, this is a sweet spot to be in. You are on the cutting edge of an exploding area of expertise that will offer exciting challenges, opportunity, recognition and reward. The job's importance to profits also offers protection when the tides shift and unemployment surges higher.

SHRM has resources available to begin learning about using data in HR:

You said your new job's deliverables include identifying and managing data in ways "most beneficial to the company"; in other words, ways that help the company become more agile and therefore profitable.

You might see this new job as an emerging variation of the HR business partner role—seasoned HR professionals capable of interacting with the executive ranks, who help ensure that management's business goals are met and adhere to relevant law while keeping employees engaged and motivated. In short, they support profit goals by keeping the company out of trouble and running smoothly.

In fact, every job exists to encourage the financial prosperity of that employer in some way, so every job always comes down to making money. You have an opportunity to be at the epicenter of entirely new ways of doing so.

Consequently, I think this job might have more opportunity than you imagine and require a different focus than you describe. I do not believe this job is about helping HR become better at what it does by skill development, but rather it is managing data in new ways that will impact bottom-line profitability of the entire organization. Do this, and HR could become the new home of data management and benefit by increased influence and stature; in fact, the results of your work could well change the face of HR as we know it.

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, is available at the SHRMStore. Order your copy today!


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