HR Leads Business

Jun 2, 2017 | Barry Lawrence, MBA, HRCI Staff Writer

For College Graduates, Lifelong Learning Has Only Just Begun

ʼTis the season to celebrate graduates for their accomplishments. Ahead is some extra free time over the summer for rest and relaxation, but new alums should also use the months ahead to develop their professional development muscles.

That’s right. Lifelong learning is the new reality in today’s highly competitive environments. Younger workers are attracted to employment opportunities that can give them new skills and experiences. But many may be surprised to find out that they are also responsible for much of their own continuous training and development.

"Learning and development takes time and energy, and it will sometimes take you out of your comfort zone," says Corinne Mills, a career consultant, writing for the Guardian. "If you can keep the learning habit throughout your career, however, you’re far more likely to extend your career longevity, mitigate any risks and improve your employability."

Mills suggests reading, finding a mentor, joining professional groups and blogging (let HRCI know if you’d like to blog about entering the HR job market) as just some of the ways to stay sharp as a lifelong learner. If you’re on the HR career track, or just want to demonstrate that you understand how the workplace works, HR Certification Institute (HRCI) now offers the Associate Professional in Human Resources™ (aPHR™) — a great way for those who want to start out in the profession to demonstrate their commitment and foundational HR knowledge.

The cool thing about certification is it becomes another badge of honor and talking point as you meet with potential employers. In other words, you have a credential to show for your continuous study and hard work. The aPHR is also a great foundation for earning more advanced HR certifications as your career blossoms, such as the Professional in Human Resources™ (PHR™) for those with experience and the Senior Professional in Human Resources™ (SPHR™) for those with more advanced experience.

Finally, as Mills states, the road to certification keeps you in the habit of learning. HRCI certifications require a commitment to ongoing professional development – a process of earning credits every three years that the HRCI community calls recertification.

"Millennials tend to think that, once they graduate college, their education immediately ends," blogs Olivia Adams. "However, it’s important not to get caught up in the freedoms of your post-grad life."

Once in the habit of continuous learning, you provide yourself with a competitive advantage in a world where "the goalposts in the workplace keep moving," notes Mills.

Many employers want professionals who can demonstrate professional development every year, she adds. "Whether this is a requirement or not, make sure you’re up to date with what’s happening in your field, or you could lose credibility and potentially expose your company to risks."

That is particularly prudent advice for graduates embarking on HR careers. HR managers, after all, are on the front lines in the battle to help their organizations mitigate risks from regulatory requirements, injuries, illness and other potential challenges.

Congratulations graduates. And yes, do take a little time off this summer to head to the beach or mountains for some deserved R&R. But also carve out some essential professional development.

Are you a recent graduate who’s about to start a new career in HR? We’d love to hear your story —just comment below.