Your HR Career Toolkit


I’ve never met an HR pro who isn’t looking for a toolkit to facilitate personal or professional change.

Whether it’s a seven-part coaching curriculum or a facilitated day of discussion, people want resources and rubrics to take their careers to the next level.

That’s fine for some people. There are fabulous instruments and curricula to help you achieve your career goals. But I believe that you’re a tool if you continually rely on external support to advance your career.

Start internally.

1. Develop confidence.

HR programs don’t train you for courage and bravery, which are the two most important attributes in any HR leader. What drives courage and bravery? Confidence. Character. Emotional maturity. Wellness. Core values. Faith in oneself. They’re all related.

You can’t be creative and innovative if you’re hamstrung with insecurity. Confidence — in yourself and your beliefs — is crucial to operating at your peak levels. Confident people aren’t afraid to be humble, be quiet, and learn from those who perform their best at work.

2. Have a well of emotional intelligence.

People want you to believe that the future of HR is occupied by men and women who wear perfectly tailored clothing and communicate effortlessly via iPad. I think data-driven conversations are crucial, but those conversations are more effective when they come from the heart.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize emotions, discern facts from feelings, and to manage emotions to adapt environments and motivate people. If you pair that with data, it’s a killer combination.

3. Get experience, not your MBA or SHRM-SCP.

Rookies think it’s important to know stuff, and they’ll spend a fortune getting book smart. I’ll take a seasoned professional with a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts and a story to tell over an MBA graduate any day of the week. And throw your certification books away if you ever want to be more than an HR business partner. It’s useless.

4. A broader view of the world outside of your state.

I love your HR state conferences because they pay me to speak. I love the SHRM national conference because I like to spend time with my friends and drink margaritas. But what I really love are events and colloquia where I get to spend time with people I don’t know and learn about experiences I’ll never have.

A majority of Americans don’t travel more than 25 miles on a regular basis. Start there. Visit family in another state. See how other regions of the country live and work. Then, get a passport. Go somewhere besides an all-inclusive resort in the Bahamas or Jamaica where you never leave the resort (which is a total rip off, bt dubs). Travel broadens the mind, and it will expand your world of HR.

5. Have something in your life besides work.

Know what’s more annoying than listening to you talk about your job? Not much. Even the busiest and most successful CHROs have hobbies they pursue and charities they support. If you want to do right by your career, spend some time away from your career. Gain perspective. Bring that good energy back to your job.

Wrapping this up in a nice bow.

I’m happy to sell you a toolkit for $297 that tells you how to be a better HR professional. In fact, I don’t know why I haven’t done this sooner. But the truth is that no toolkit can help you like you can help yourself.

Take your life more seriously and your job less seriously. Build your “life resume” before you work on your LinkedIn profile. See the world beyond your zip code or your state conference. Don’t be a tool and fall for the certification scam.

Professional change happens through external experiences and coursework, but all of it can be a phenomenal waste of time and money until you work on yourself.

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Laurie Ruettimann
Laurie Ruettimann is a former HR leader and an influential speaker, writer and marketing advisor. Her work has appeared in many mainstream print publications and major news media outlets. You can find her on twitter at @Lruettimann.


  1. Isabel says:

    As a small business owner who is relatively new to the industry, I must admit I am always extremely happy when I come across posts such as this. Being a new start up, it can be extremely daunting trying to get to grips with different aspects of business life, such as HR, and I’ve spent many an hour scouring the internet for advice and guidance within this area. That’s why it’s so great to see posts such as this which I can then use to help me navigate through the running of my new business, and help me to achieve the highest possible working standards for my employees. I am committed to giving my employees the best possible environment to work within, and so I am currently looking at employing some external advisers to help in training both myself and my HR team in order to help us excel within the HR department. I was therefore wondering if anyone knows of any companies who would be good for providing HR consultancy? I came across one called Guardian Support? This is them . What do people think? I would greatly appreciate any advice anyone could offer me. Many thanks, and keep up the great posts!

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