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Mapping the HR professional career path

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When hiring a new member for the HR department, it’s become the norm for employers to seek candidates either with their CHRP designation in hand, or at least with the process well under way. As the Human Resources Professional Association’s Director of HR Excellence Claude Balthazard notes, the designation is designed to be a baseline in an HR professional’s early career. And, in 2011, that baseline will rise a bit when all CHRP candidates will be required to have a bachelor’s degree.

At the time of writing, Workplace editorial board member Cindy Zarnett was anxiously awaiting news of her

results after writing the national CHRP exams (Update: September 2008 -- Cindy has her CHRP in hand!). Yet, even someone so new to the designation, and with only  three years under her belt in HR (coming in via sales and then operations), Zarnett is already wondering what further training she should consider to further her career.

The world of professional development for HR professionals post-CHRP is also a growing focus for the HRPA (minus the “O,” which Balthazard says the organization dropped as it found the geographical reference limiting). Balthazard says there is a gap as one looks at mid-career development for those in human resources. While there are tools for analyzing professional strengths and weaknesses, and there are courses and programs from any number of institutions and associations, there are no maps to assist those in HR to determine the best paths to take to achieve their destinations.

And destinations for ambitious HR professionals certainly exist, as I discovered during a photo shoot and interviews with some of the folks at Xerox Canada. In our July/August 2008 cover story, you met Xerox’s Tony Martino, now VP of business operations but formerly a VP of HR. And, heading up the whole Xerox Corporation is Anne M. Mulcahy, CEO and chair of the board. Mulcahy started with Xerox as a field sales rep, then moved into HR where she became a VP, then into operations and, finally, in 2001 she became the international corporation’s CEO. Talk about role models.

So, while the HRPA moves forward to help HR professionals map out their career paths, Workplace will continue its quest to locate and profile the trailblazers who are making their own way onto the strategic table and into the C-suite. What better mapmakers can there be than those who have reached a key destination?

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