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Career options and pathways in Human Resources

Career moves are very mysterious yet very much logical. In HR, you may observe, there are professionals who moved always in Indian companies in last 18 years of their career, people joined in recruitment function and remained there, folks joined in training and remained there. While you will find some moving across HR functions without even having a formal HR degree. How does that happen?
It all happens, when opportunity comes to you and you make it!
Factory Managers, Chartered Accountants, Engineers, all of them have made their way into HR and have traveled across functions, locations and roles. Career in HR requires quite a lot of flexibility, ability to produce results, build relationships, develop people and culture, etc. But most of the places, when I talk to people outside HR, they say, HR folks are busy. Doing what is often times a question but it is true they spend lot of time in admin work, operations. After systems implementation to manage HR functions, HR's role has remained limited to data entry and pulling reports.
There are pathways into being HR business partner and help them with hiring through recruitment department, get them compensation bench-marking, through C&B department , getting them some training through L&D, etc. Business expects you to do clerical job and job of care-taker rather than an active HR evangelist, OD and learning and talent engagement and development expert.
Ask a top HR boss, how many culture experiments he has done with the organisations he worked with and he will have no answer. Even top bosses in HR just maintain department. Give lectures, write for newspapers, HR magazines, go to conferences, etc. All personal publicity.

If you have to define your career path in HR, you need to own it and develop it by self-regulating and being decisive and committed to your cause and that may ask you to be different than other HR folks. Risk is there as you may have to look for change and not many HR folks are ready to experiment and delve into areas of expertise, that may be challenging . If you can take that challenge, ask for that role, keep pushing by producing quality and compelling materials in that area, make presentations, write and publish research papers and remain active on HR platforms, real and virtual. HR is a service oriented job and you need to be in the mind-set of service giver and be wiling to people delight and comfort.
At the same time, you may be working under tremendous pressure from top management, who will ask you to  drive their agenda through you, how unrealistic, unpopular and agonizing that maybe. Here you have to balance by playing a servant role or quit the job. HR's job is to deliver good to business and if that means taking certain unpopular decisions, it shall be taken..
Create your own path if you do not suck up. Talent managers must acknowledge first, what the test bed looks like before starting a talent war/revolution on the grounds!  

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