For us at The Chapman Consulting Group, the most enjoyable part of focusing on the HR profession is the long-term management of people’s careers. We really don’t think of our HR friends as ‘candidates’ or ‘clients’ – for us they are all just ‘people’. Sometimes we connect in relation to live job opportunities, other times it is to hire for their team. But we certainly recognise the ongoing and potential long-term nature of our relationship, that cycles from candidate to client and back again.

That’s why we enjoy watching the different degrees to which various HR Practitioners across the Asia Pacific Japan region manage their careers. In this article, we look at the ten most proactive career management strategies we’ve seen HR folks using :

1) Keep an Up-to-Date HR Résumé

You never know when you might need it next. The most proactive people prepare not one but three types of résumé. One that is a comprehensive summary of their career, much like the resume on The Chapman Consulting Group website, which may be three or four pages in length. The second is a more succinct resume, perhaps just two pages long. This resume hits just the salient points and is punchier. The third is more of a bio and is akin to an internal document in your company that could be used to describe yourself to your peers. This third document is great to use for networking chats and presentations. It’s also great if you are ‘headhunted’ but don’t want to wrongly give the impression that you are actively looking.

2) Consistently Re-Hash the Content of Your HR Résumé

Review it every three months. Add in new projects while they are fresh and take out old responsibilities that may no longer be relevant. Update your résumé for job changes, promotions or title changes. Regularly refresh your résumé to keep it relevant and sharp.

3) Keep Your HR Bosses Focused on Where You Want Your Career to be Heading

Don’t leave the trust or responsibility to your superiors to chart your career. Too many people do this and end up disappointed. If you want to gain experience in a new specialisation or move to a new business unit or new geography, don’t be afraid to say it. This doesn’t need to come across as impatient, especially if you are talking about the future (rather than the present).

4) Build an External Profile for Yourself

Strategically get involved in presentations or public speaking events that are amongst a high calibre audience. Deliver a speech on a topic that is close to your heart and that you can speak confidently on. Chair a HR industry group that consists of HR peers who are of interest to you.

5) Build Relationships with Select Search Consultants Who Can Advise on Your HR Career

Keep this to one or two trusted advisors. They can act as your external eyes and ears, alerting you to interesting external opportunities or proactive external discussions that may be in your interests to hold. Such search consultants will recognise and respect that you aren’t always actively looking to move but more that you are just being proactive.

6) Work Your Alumni Network of Your Previous Employers

With the advent of technology related tools such as Facebook and LinkedIn, it is now far easier to keep tabs with people from your past. One of the best advantages if you have worked in large multinational companies is the sizeable HR teams you have been a part of. Leverage these local, regional and global networks to proactively keep in touch with your fellow alumni to share ideas, seek career advice and share market information.

7) Keep Yourself Moving!

By “moving” we mean don’t let yourself stagnate in your current job; we’re not implying that you should be shifting companies unnecessarily. The trick, if you want to enhance your career record, is to keep moving into a new role every two or three years. To the extent possible, do this within your existing company and work with your HR bosses to proactively chart your future direction. And if the career runway in your current company looks like it may be ending because there is no next development opportunity, start looking externally well before you need to. It can take longer than you might imagine to seize that perfect role.

8) Think Big Picture and Long-Term When Switching a Job

The most proactive HR people look not only for the right company, but also for plenty of other factors. Make sure your bosses are people you feel comfortable with – both your HR bosses AND your business bosses. If you know someone is about to leave, ask to meet their successor. If travel is an issue, triple check how much travel is expected, especially if it is a regional job. Think about what the realistic career development path is within the company and whether mobility is required to advance your career long term.

9) Don’t Just Have External Career Discussions When You’re Looking For a Job

Too many HR people fall into the trap of managing their career in a way that alternates between “I’m happy with my job so therefore I don’t need to look” and “I’m unhappy in my job and really need to look”. We advocate adopting a continuous and open minded approach to looking at external opportunities, even if to reinforce to yourself that the current job you are doing is much better than anything out on the market. The key is to manage your and others’ expectations. Some people even feel comfortable telling their current boss that they’re looking at an external opportunity – now that is trust!

10) Know What Other Companies are Doing in HR

Use informal or formal networking discussions to be aware of what other companies in your industry sector or even outside of your industry sector are doing in respect of HR. A significant concern exists for HR practitioners who remain internally focused and naively think that ‘their’ company is executing their HR strategy the best way. This is especially the case if they have spent a considerable amount of their career at the current company – it’s dangerous to become too insular in our thinking.