There’s no dearth of advice on the skills a new age HR professional needs to equip themselves with. Over the past few months I have come across recommendation on endless courses on time management, influencing skills, data analytics and empathy.  Yet the whole suite of recommendations chooses to stay away from critical skills that HR professionals can no longer shy away from. As people continue to expect more from HR and the work becomes more scientific and technical, it is now more critical than ever to equip ourselves with new age skills on software technology, program and product management amongst others. No HR professional can afford to turn a blind eye and rely on accrued skills alone. Here are four courses every HR professional needs to take to stay relevant and get ahead in the game.

  1. Data management: Statistics is a good start but if getting ahead is the aim, an understanding of mean, regression, and probability will not cut it. It is time to understand where big data can be stored, extracted and analyzed. Each organization may have their own preferred databases. I have enrolled into a course that gives me some understanding of Redshift SQL. I have a feeling that this is not my cup of tea and will never be my forte. Yet, the next time someone starts speaking about databases and Redshift, I won’t be left giving blank stares. You can’t say I didn’t try.
  1. Introduction to software development: I spent my entire work life supporting software teams and I learn something new from them every year. Some of my favorite lessons have been retrospectives, sprints and the like. Over the past two years, I developed a deeper understanding of how code flows from feature requirements to when it hits the mainline and the many parties that interact along the way. Even if you have nothing to do with software development, a basic understanding will take you a long way. I know of HR professionals who have found a shortcut to success by programming their way there. Coursera is a great source with a basic course here and then more on Java here and here.
  1. Product management: Every policy and HR process needs to be viewed as a product. Every HR professional needs to be an exemplary product manager. The good news is that compared to database management and software design, this might be a tad bit easier to wrap ones head around. Yet this is neither an easy nor simple job. Building successful products is the backbone of success for any function including HR. Again, Coursera comes to the rescue. I have only just begun and hence can’t guarantee that it’s the best course out there but I have it from credible sources that it is good. I am particularly impressed by the fact that the professor claims to turn us into designers who understand what customers value instead of just building stuff and hoping for the best (which is what HR professional do all the time).
  1. Beginner and intermediate Excel: Surprised to see this here? SQL or NoSQL, Excel still forms the basis of our everyday data use. When I first learnt about Pivot tables (ignored in college, discovered first year on the job), I thought it was magic. Over the next five years, I survived on the many magical properties of Excel sheets. While I know that match and index functions are not enough, if you don’t know what I am talking about, you could do with a course in Excel.

You don’t have to be a master of product management, software development or data. However, you do need to find your niche that doesn’t depend on being the best negotiator in town or the most empathetic. Now is a good time to zero in on your future niche and cultivate it. Now is good too.

P.S: If you have any recommendation of courses I should take apart from these, let me know in the comments below. 

P.P.S: This post was first published here.


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