Tomorrow night I’m going to talk with some local HR students about what “real” HR is like outside of the classroom and the textbook. We’re going to discuss what the actual workload is like for an entry level HR professional. Even though it is routine for me, it’s like a secret formula to these students.

And it has to stop. 

It’s been going on forever

I went to college purposely to get my degree in HR. I knew that’s what I wanted to do, and I worked my tail off to learn everything I could. And yet, when I got into my first HR job, I found out that 80% of what I needed to know about HR had never even been explained.

One of my earliest blog posts in my career (I’m not linking here because the writing style back then embarrasses me a bit) was on this topic, and I’m amazed that in the years since I graduated, not a single thing has changed for many students.

I receive emails on a weekly basis from a variety of people, and all of them are reading from the same script. “I got my degree and now I’m trying to get into HR, but all the entry level jobs require HR experience. How am I supposed to get in?”

You know it’s true. I know it’s true. And yet, here we sit. Some of you already have your job and have forgotten about those who walk the same path you once did. They still need you (and me) to offer advice and inspiration.

Let’s set them up for success, not failure.

What we can do about it

This year one of my personal goals at work is to evaluate and test an intern program. I recently learned of another local company with a wildly successful HR internship program, and I wanted to get some pointers from them but their HR person just left. If you’ve done this before and have ideas to share, please feel free to email me.

The interns coming out of the program rave about the experience, and this thing was set up as an unpaid internship, so you know the experience had to be powerful and valuable to receive that kind of feedback.

Look for opportunities to do exactly what I’m doing tomorrow. Contact your local university or community college and see if you can stop by and talk with a class or some students after school about what we do and why it is a great career.

HR-we need some PR

Look at the stereotypical “bring your dad to work” elementary school program. You have the “cool” ones–firefighters, police officers, etc. Then you have the “blah” ones in suits. If you can’t explain what you do to a third grade child maybe you need to stop and figure out what the heck it is you do! By the way, I’ve had to talk with my wife’s third grade class dozens of times, and I’ve tweaked my response to “I help recruit great people to come and do work that they love. We make games that teach helicopter pilots how to fly.” That’s pretty darn cool for the kids to hear, and it opens the door for me to explain at a high level what I get to do on a daily basis.

I know we’re talking about college students, not elementary school kids, but the idea is the same.

I once heard an HR “professional” tell a group of college students that “HR was a terrible career choice” and that they should “start over and pick accounting, finance, or anything but HR.” Yeah, that guy needs to quit his job, go home, and shut up. This is an amazing profession; I just think we need better marketing/PR.

This week/month/year, look for opportunities to influence the next generation. Even if 99% of the kids you talk to end up going into another profession (and statistically, that’s probably a good estimate), they still have a positive connection with HR lodged in their brains. It can’t hurt, right?

Digging deeper

Entry level HR CourseI have developed a video course to help entry level HR pros find and get their first job and then knock it out of the park. If you are an entry level HR pro or someone looking to get their first HR job, I highly encourage you to check it out!

The course is made up of over an hour of video content, several bonus eBooks, and weekly articles and assignments to help the training “stick” for the long term. These skills will carry you through your entire career; you just need to take the time to learn them!

Slow and steady wins the race

I am going to speak frankly today. Some of you will hate it, and others will appreciate it. Ya can’t make everyone happy at once, so here we go. :-)

Recently I received a copy of a survey that indicates 43 percent of workers believe their careers have slowed down and it will be harder and will take more time to achieve career growth as a result of the economy.

My initial thought?†Those 43% of people probably wouldn’t be successful even if the economy had been booming.

In case you didn’t know it, people all over are getting better jobs, earning more than they ever have before, and really†winning in their careers every single day. And they don’t give a darn about any recession. Why? What’s the difference? Continue reading

So yesterday I posted on a comment from a reader on a previous post. The person was obviously disgruntled with the HR people in their company, and I wanted to take the opportunity to respond here. Obviously I think HR in general has value for the company, leadership, and employees, but how does that play out in the real world?

How HR Provides Value

  • Recruiting-Many managers don’t want to stop working to interview candidates, much less create strong job ads, prescreen candidates, hold multiple interviews, and select the best fit for both competency and culture. The HR/recruiting function uses those tools to help keep turnover costs down and productivity high, both of which can significantly impact profitability. Continue reading

Recently I saw this comment on an HR blog post and couldn’t resist discussing it. Most of us would be quick to defend the work we do, but I’m looking for some strong, well thought out responses to the criticism. I’m going to post my own response tomorrow, so be sure to come back to see what I’m thinking.

HR is not relevant in any workplace. It is merely glorified administration that serves no real purpose other than to suck resources from the business the HR ‘professionals’ (I use that term somewhat ironically) Continue reading

You are my favorite!Favoritism. Bias. Preferential treatment. Nepotism in the workplace. How do you stop it from becoming an issue? Today we have a special post with someone needing assistance. Let’s pitch in and help.

Sometime last year I posted a rant from someone who was being stepped on at work. That person received help anonymously through the comments and today I have another post from another frustrated, anonymous HR pro. Let’s hear what they have to say and then give some tips and pointers in the comments. If you’re looking for more info, here’s a post on how to communicate with difficult people at work.

So here’s my deal. I’m an HR rep at a well-respected organization. We’ve been quite successful and I would say we are in the top 5 or 10% in the state for our industry. Continue reading

my job sucks

Today I have a ranty post inspired by an email from an anonymous reader. Let’s call him Ranty to preserve his current position (sad as it may be).

Update: Krista Francis of Optimistic Workplace has written a helpful set of posts for Ranty. Part 1 is here and Part 2 is here. Be sure to check them out!

The Life of a Flunkie

My job is horrible. I took a job with the expectation that I would move up to more responsibility within a few months. My supervisor originally made it clear that he wants to make sure my talents and skills are utilized to build up the company and our department. It’s been almost a year now, and I still come in every day and do the same sucky stuff as always.

Most of my time is spent sorting, organizing, and filing papers. Yes, I know it needs to be done, but I have a degree. I have ideas and the enthusiasm to pursue them. Well, I had the enthusiasm to pursue them. When I started this job, I worked on little improvements left and right. I spent time outside work thinking of ways to help my office and my organization to get better. Continue reading