You’ve decided to pursue a career in Human Resources. Congratulations! This is a very rewarding field. In order to advance in your career, you’ll need to work hard and focus on your end goal. Just getting started? It helps if you have a formal education or online bachelors degree in a related field. Here are a few ways you can move up the HR ladder:

Earn your reputation

Over time, you will earn your reputation as a quality HR professional. But if you’re just starting out, there are a few things you can do to ensure you start is off to solid ground. Always do your best, ask a lot of questions, and be ready to redo any work that is not up to par. If you show you are willing to work hard, you will be rewarded in terms of reputation within your team and industry.

Network with HR professionals

LinkedIn is the social media network of choice for HR professionals, but there are lots of live networking opportunities to take advantage of, too. Consider joining a professional network like the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) or WorldAtWork for in-person conferences, live webinars, and more. You’ll meet your own niche of HR professionals who can help you move around the industry until you reach the top.

Contribute to your company

Don’t just show up to work and do the bare minimum. Get messy. Share your ideas and solutions to improve your company’s HR functions and overall health. Be prepared to go the extra mile in implementing changes. Your colleagues and management will appreciate the positive changes you bring to the company. Pro tip: it’s not always dollars and cents. If your company has a culture-building or community initiative, get involved! It’s a great way to show your company that you care about its people and its reputation.

Do meaningful research

When you’re proposing solutions or working on a project, do your homework. Looking for sources can often lead to curiosity. Take any opportunity you have to do your own meaningful research. Many companies are big supporters of their HR professionals sharing their research with the outside world. It shows outsiders what a great, forward thinking company you work for when you do research that is relevant and attractive to new talent. Ask your company if you can purse a company-sponsored HR blog, and make posts regularly. From there, you can find out about outside publishing opportunities with trade journals like Employee Benefits Advisor, WorldAtWork, and more.

Take on more responsibility

When things get tough and everyone around you seems busy, reach out and lend a hand. Being a solid team player doesn’t just earn points in the career advancement category, it helps make your workplace a better, more productive place to be. If you can quantify the results of your initiative and drive, you’ll be poised for a promotion.

Remember that you are your only advocate in the workforce. You must do what needs to be done, then you must promote yourself to those who hold power. The best way to do this is by getting an education (you can get an online bachelors degree from home!) and experience in the field. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, but take care to learn from any missteps. Remember that depending on where you live, the local community of HR professionals may be small. So treat each person you meet in the industry like they’re a person you’ll be friends with for life. You never know when you’ll want to move up the ladder by transferring companies.

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