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Protecting Your HR Career


With the stunning rise of generative AI HR professionals are wondering about their careers. Professionals should always keep an eye on career risks and opportunities, AI is one thing to worry about, but other factors can affect you too. Take a look through the points below and see what factors might affect you.

The impact of AI on HR careers

A clever comment about AI is that AI won’t take your job, someone who knows AI will. It’s likely AI will affect most HR jobs to some extent but it will be more about changing the job, not replacing the person altogether.

Please don’t fall into the trap of thinking “AI can’t do this”, “I don’t have to worry because I’m in coaching” or “Rather than think about how AI will affect my career, I’m going to complain about ethical concerns.”

AI is likely to affect us all in multiple ways, we need to embrace it so that we leverage it to its full advantage. That means learning about it and experimenting with it as much as you can.

The impact of changes to your area of expertise

Here are three warning signs that your area of expertise may be at risk:

· Your specialty has become fashionable. It feels great if your specialty has become fashionable, however, it can create a career risk. Companies sometimes hire too many people, or the wrong talent mix as they rush into staff a new fashionable topic. Don’t be fooled by the current demand for your skill set into thinking your role will remain secure.

· You start seeing automation or outsourcing intrude into your specialty. Anyone whose work involves a lot of administration or compliance should be worried about the impact automation will have on their careers. Automation won’t eliminate all the jobs in an area, however, if half the staff is cut back then that’s a serious risk. Similarly, once good outsourcing options exist, such as in recruiting, you should ponder whether your organization will make your area redundant.

· Your specialty is changing rapidly. If your specialty shows signs of changing rapidly, but your department continues to do things the same way, then you are at risk of your skills becoming obsolete. Your current leaders may tell you that what you are doing is great, but the risk remains that suddenly, their view will change, and you will be out of a job.

HR professionals will continue to have a lot of opportunities in the future. It is simply a matter of not being complacent about your current situation and staying alert to risks. Let’s look at some actions you can take to position yourself for a positive future.

Tactics to protect your career

Here are five ideas that can help ensure you remain valuable to organizations even when there are significant changes to your area of specialty:

· Be as much of a technology geek as possible. Technology will continue to transform HR. If you are an expert in various aspects of technology, then you will be particularly valuable. Don't expect the organization to fully support you in keeping up to date. They may be using 10-year-old technology and have little interest in moving to something more modern. If your organization isn’t handing you learning opportunities, then you need to create them.

· Gain experience in change and project management. These topics will remain extremely important to organizations. Any time you can gain experience (or learn from other people’s experience) in change and project management then grab the chance. Someone who understands new technology and knows how to implement it with good change management will be especially valuable.

· Keep your skills as broad as possible. Someone who knows a fair bit about, for example, both compensation and benefits is in a better position than someone who just knows one or the other. Always seek to broaden your scope and don’t be pigeonholed by your organization as a narrow specialist.

· Consider jobs in vendors that service HR. Some of the best HR jobs may be in technology vendors, outsourcers, or consultancies that serve HR. Consider careers there, not just careers within an HR department.

· Gain a deep understanding of your industry. A deep understanding of a particular industry will also be valuable for any kind of HR generalist such as an HRBP, HR manager, or HR leader. For example, if you have a deep understanding of the intricacies of how a complex modern hospital works then that will be of real value even if many aspects of your HR role change.


As is so often the case, the issue isn’t so much knowing what you should do as it is getting around to doing it. The tactics I’ve outlined can be seen as mindsets that help you guide your work. Anytime you see something that involves technology or change management then you should leap to get involved. Anytime you have a chance to broaden your skill set then do that even if the more obvious choice is to deepen expertise in your specialty. Finally, don’t underestimate the value of a deep and detailed understanding of your industry. You can have a great career in HR, just don’t overestimate the security of your current role.


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