My Parents Had it Right

I grew up working for my parents. Even when I was young, I was helping out around the office of their small business. I learned so much about how the world works firsthand, and I would never take anything for those experiences. I also learned things about management and leadership that I carry with me today.

My dad, wife, and brother at a triathlon

My wife, dad, brother, and I at a triathlon

Work Hard, Get Rewarded

I can\’t remember a week going by where they didn\’t have a rush job to get out the door. Screaming customers and scurrying workers made up the sights and sounds of those frantic days. But it wasn\’t always 110% hard-driving insanity. When the employees had to work late, I\’d often carry them a plate of homemade food from the house. When they had to get there before dawn, I would make a biscuit run to keep them going. And the pizza lunches? I can still remember them fondly. Working your tail off was expected, but you knew that they would still take care of you (especially food-wise!) during those times.

Dive Right In

Remember those frantic times I mentioned? Some people probably figured the boss would be sitting high above, shouting orders and waving frantically to the lowly employees on the floor. Actually, it would have been pretty tough to do that kind of thing while he was working side-by-side with them. I can remember someone telling me one time that it must have been nice to have the employees doing the work for him. I\’ve never laughed so hard in my life. My dad\’s been there at some time between six and seven in the morning every day since I can remember, and he was often that guy who stayed late to finish something and deliver it to a customer. And getting a call at 11:45pm to come pick up a job? He’d be out the door within minutes. People respect someone who can not only talk the talk but also walk the walk.

Being a manager is easier than being a leader.

I know others have talked before about their first jobs. Do you have a story that you\’d like to share?

Rules for New HR Professionals

If you\’re a fan of Fistful of Talent (I made it into the top 1 zillion blogs over there at some point or another. Boo-ya!), then you may have seen the recent FOTV video where Kris Dunn, AKA the HR Capitalist, gave his rules for new HR professionals to succeed. While he had to be succinct in the video, I had the opportunity to discuss it with him in person recently. He reiterated his points and made sure that I understood completely where he was coming from. His main ideas are in bold, and my own commentary follows each point.

Know HR and Execute

If you\’re going to build some credibility as a new HR professional, then you\’re going to have to prove that you know your stuff. If you are a dunce when it comes to HR matters, then no amount of passion or people skills will get people to follow your lead. If you have to take some classes, get your certification, or just do more in the area of career development, don\’t let anything stand in your way from being knowledgeable in the HR arena.

Have an opinion. (passion=credibility)

Too many HR professionals are afraid to put their foot down and stick to their guns. If you want to show people that you\’re a wishy-washy, spineless drone, then don\’t ever take a stand on anything. And let me know how that goes for you. Probably not well.

Another point that he made in the video was that passion equals credibility. It was a quick comment mentioned in passing, but it was the phrase that struck me the hardest. Passion equals credibility. Is that really true for a new HR professional? If I\’m passionate about something, does that mean that I\’m automatically credible? I can\’t say that it will always be true, but I could make the case that if you\’re sufficiently passionate about a certain topic (HR, perhaps?), then you would certainly be credible as well.

Communicate in multiple ways

All too many of my generational brethren are completely incapable of expressing themselves. Whether it\’s face-to-face, written, or just verbal communication, each has a definite impact on your ability to succeed as a new HR professional. Know how to express yourself verbally, nonverbally, and in the written form. It will make an amazing difference. I\’ve always written fairly well, but once I started writing on a daily basis, I realized just how much better my overall communication skills had become.

So, if you\’re a new HR professional, and you\’re looking for some tips on how to be successful, then I think you should be focusing on these items at the very least. I think you\’d be surprised at how much of a difference it will make in your own career. And if you have another rule for new HR professionals, then please drop it in the comments below. I’m collecting these for an upcoming project, and I’d love to have more input.

Posts, Problems, and Probabilities

In the past week or two, posting has been sporadic. There are several reasons for that (as you’ll see below). I’ve been reading some amazing posts from my blogger friends, trying to meet a fast-approaching deadline, and planning the future of this site. I hope you read stick around, because you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

First, I’d like to apologize for the double posts you may have received in your feed reader in the past week. I was trying to submit the blog to Technorati, and I’m thinking that’s what messed with the feed. I’m not sure, because I was also toying around with some Feedburner features at the same time. Anyway, if your feed reader was flooded with UpstartHR, I’m hoping it won’t happen again (unless it’s purposeful!).

Next, I’d like to share a little about some projects that I’m working on. Some of them are UpstartHR solo gigs, and others are partner endeavors with some people you all (should) know and love.

  • HRevolution-Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you know that HRevolution is coming. We are getting ready to set some of the details later this week, and Trish and I are very excited to let everyone know the status of your soon-to-be-favorite event.
  • HR Ninjas-The HR ninjas just keep coming! I don’t know why people love these things, but they do. Feel free to get one to wear to your next Casual Friday. I guarantee your HR pals will love it.
  • The Master ListThe Creative Chaos Consultant is working on a project. He needs your help. Are you on… Twitter? LinkedIn? Blogging? If you are in the HR field and involved in social media in any way, check out his post today and give him a hand. He’s a friend of mine, and I’d appreciate it if you could stop by!
  • Rock the PHR

    Rock the PHR

    Rock the PHR eBook-I’ve been working on an eBook for a while now, and it’s been tough. I’m in the editing stages right now, and I’m hoping to get it out very soon. After seeing how popular the free PHR study guide was, I decided to put out a premium version called Rock the PHR with some amazing goodies included. Public thanks to April of PseudoHR for the assistance. She did a good bit of the legwork, and I’d have been pushed back even farther if not for her help. In fact, she is still gathering more information that is going to be packaged as a special bonus. Stay tuned for more news later this week (hopefully!).

  • Smile Week Contest-To those that entered the Smile Week Contest, I really appreciate it. After you read the rest of this post, you’ll see why you haven’t yet received your prizes. Don’t worry,  I haven’t forgotten you!
  • NASHRM blog-I’m working with my local SHRM chapter to get a blog up and running. Much of the hard part is already done, and we’re mainly waiting on the more mundane/administrative parts to finish it completely. And a big thanks goes out to Stephen of HR Gumbo for giving me a hand.
  • HR Capitalist-I’m meeting Kris Dunn, the HR Capitalist, today for the first time. We live about 45 minutes from each other. It’s not like we’re seven states apart or anything! He’s coming to do a presentation at NASHRM on social media. Very excited.
  • Jobacle eBook-I’m talking with Andrew over at Jobacle about getting another eBook started. If you haven’t visited Jobacle before, you’re missing out. A gem is the annual Sick Day Calendar, which helps you plan your sick days months ahead of time, so you can get the most out of holidays and other events.
  • NewHR guide-The next UpstartHR product is going to be focused on the entry level HR professional. I can’t mention any pertinent details just yet, but I’m already planning something that is going to be huge.
  • 2nd Guest Post Blitz-I’ve been trying to focus inward in recent weeks, but I have four or five requests for guest posts currently that I’m going to try to fill with another Guest Post Blitz. The first one was very popular, and it’s a unique way to handle the guest post scenario. I’ll probably end up giving half the HR blogosphere the day off by the time I’m through. :-)
  • Baudville-I recently had the opportunity to interview Baudville for a great post on the Jobacle blog, and it inspired this bit of humor that’s been missing from UpstartHR in recent weeks…recognition

This stuff is just a dent in the surface of all that’s going on, but maybe now you see why I drink from a 2-liter bottle of Diet Mountain Dew? If you’re not subscribed, but you think you’d like to be a part of more of the coming events and projects, feel free to join the movement! You can get free email updates every week.

Bridging the HR Curriculum Gap



In one of my most popular posts ever, I described the divide between what students are taught and what the workplace is actually like. It\’s obviously not an isolated issue, because many people have contacted me through comments and email to talk about the problem. The community is an amazing thing, and I truly believe we can get past this obstacle through a group effort. If the HR curriculum is not preparing people for the actual work to be performed, then there is obviously a disconnect between the business side and the education side of HR. How then can we bridge that gap?

To build the effectiveness of the HR curriculum-Business needs to get involved with education.

  • Tell us what we need to know to be successful. If anyone knows what the HR curriculum should be, it\’s the people who are working in the industry. Don\’t expect a professor who hasn\’t worked in the private sector in twenty years to know what skills are needed.
  • Set up an internship program. Get free workers for your business. Sounds appealing, right? But here\’s the catch—you actually have to do something with them. They\’re not there for coffee. They\’re there to learn. They will be running the company when enough years pass by, and you need to keep that in mind when you\’re giving them projects to complete.
  • Let us be flexible when we get there. Encourage creativity and innovation in your HR department. If you want to be great, you\’ll at least listen to what the younger generation has to say. Even if every single thing the person makes you tear up from the stupidity (you\’re the one who hired him/her!), there may be one golden idea that makes the rest worthwhile.

To build the usefulness of the HR curriculum-Education needs to get involved with business.

  • Build the HR curriculum around business needs. Go to the business community. Be involved with networking events outside the university. Find out what problems businesses are having and teach your students to solve those problems. And even if you don\’t know how to solve them, using the classroom to brainstorm solutions could lead to some amazing things.
  • Provide college credits for internships. If a student goes out there to work in a position that\’s related to what they\’re studying, then the learning outside the classroom could outweigh the learning inside the classroom in some cases. Why not allow them to get a little closer to graduation with some internship credits?
  • Assign more project work as opposed to only memorization. The first time I had an assignment at work, I memorized a page of facts and took a test. Wait a minute; that\’s not how it went at all. I had a project to complete, and I was “graded” on multiple factors. Let people be responsible for their own work and let the results speak for themselves.

If this gap in the HR curriculum is going to be bridged, then both parties need to be vigilant. Paying for an education that provides little long-term value is a waste of valuable time and money. HR professionals, push your company to work toward these goals. Students, push your university to work toward these goals. Together, we can transform HR education into a platform to launch people into stellar careers in the human resources field.

Read more in the HR education series.

Introducing the HR Education Series

HR education

HR education

I\’m going to be starting a new series here on upstartHR. Everyone knows by now that I have a few topics that I\’m truly passionate about. One of those is what we’re learning in college. I have talked before about the holes in the HR curriculum where students are being done a disservice. This topic continues to rise to the surface in conversations I\’m having on a weekly basis. This series will cover the potential and pitfalls of HR education.

HR education isn\’t all it\’s cracked up to be. The colleges and universities are living in a different age. And although some of them are trying to upgrade with technology, they\’re still using textbooks as the major instructional material. And who writes those textbooks? Well, I\’m sure they\’re smart people, but for the most part, they are not involved with the day-to-day business world. For some students in technology-rich fields, their college education may be obsolete by the time they graduate. This scathing comment from a study performed by Quintessential Careers:

“College was a total waste of time and money. Computer courses are bordering on obsolete by graduation. There were not nearly enough computer courses in my degree program. I gained no skills to get me a job.”
— 2003 computer information systems grad

While HR education may not be moving quite as fast as that, it\’s still light years ahead of what some schools are teaching. I read recently that SHRM  has a curriculum that it pushes for schools to offer. I don\’t know exactly what that may entail, but being the largest HR organization in the world means that it\’s naturally going to move slower than other, smaller organizations. Maybe it\’s time for someone to offer something revolutionary in terms of HR education?

Here\’s a novel idea. Why don\’t we take some measure (not all, mind you) of education from the HR blogs that already exist? There are dozens (hundreds?) of wonderful people pouring their hearts and efforts into maintaining a blog that describes the ins and outs of human resources. What if schools had some sort of HR education curriculum that required—or at the very least suggested—its students study from those actively participating in the field? How revolutionary would that be?

I only found out about the prevalence of the blogosphere when I was nearly finished with college. And that was only through my own personal research on topics that are unrelated to human resources. I stumbled across a few blogs and loved the community-like aura and the availability of information. And it wasn\’t until the end of last year that I started engaging in the HR blogosphere by reading and commenting.

During the recent SHRM blogger panel, there seemed to be a fair amount of interest from people interested in starting their own HR blogs. With so many remarkable and talented individuals in our field, it\’s going to be fascinating to see where the HR blogosphere moves in the future. I hope you enjoy the HR education series and that it helps to open your thinking to new creativity and innovation.

Read more in the HR education series.

Creativity and Innovation in HR

Maintaining creativity     Flick-laffy4k

In the past few days, I’ve had conversations with several friends in the HR field about creativity. I have spent an inordinate amount of time lately just thinking of ideas. That’s all. Just thinking. Pondering. Brainstorming. Plumbing the depths of my cranium for some idea that’s just out of reach. And the reason that I started all of the creative thinking? I enjoy it.

Now, with all of the responsibilities we have on a daily basis, doing something simply for the enjoyment is is a rarity. But it’s a wonderful process to let your mind wander around an ironclad problem, knocking here and there until a weak point is found in the rationale and the idea starts to take form. I truly enjoy the process of coming up with ideas.  One of the reasons why is because I know that I’ll never have enough time to complete all of them. I often wondered why people would give perfectly good ideas to others instead of taking advantage of them. Now I realize that giving away ideas has multiple benefits. It helps you to see new answers for your own issues, it helps someone else solve a problem, and it builds goodwill between you and the recipient.

Back to the conversations–I have been accused of being bold and innovative. I really am just being myself! I’m still young in the profession, and I take advantage of my enthusiasm at every opportunity. However, I never, ever want to lose the fire in my belly. So, how can you keep from losing that spark?  What can keep you from falling into the drudgery of daily life and help you rise above the grinding dullness that some of us face?  There are a lot of new HR professionals who read this blog, and they would all like to know how to stay on top of their game.

And if you haven’t subscribed for free updates yet, it’s as simple as clicking the little orange button on the top right of the page. Thanks for supporting UpstartHR!

3 Ways Entry Level HR Professionals Can Be More Relevant

entry level human resources

Stand out from the crowd! via differentperspective

After a long and arduous job search, I finally landed my first entry level HR position a while back.  And even after earning a degree in HRM and successfully completing the PHR exam, I was still unprepared for what lay ahead.  However, I have since realized that my high level of preparation beforehand was extremely helpful in getting me up to speed in my new position.  With that in mind, I have determined that there are at least three good ways entry level HR professionals can be more relevant in their new jobs.  Success in HR doesn’t have to be limited to the long-time veterans.  It is possible to overcome some barriers to entry by developing a reputation for being technologically savvy, networking with other HR professionals online, and having enthusiasm for the HR experience.

3 Tips for Entry Level HR Pros

Technology-The Great Equalizer

When I entered the workforce years ago, I realized that I had an edge on many of my coworkers, because I have always been interested in technology.  Tinkering with computers and testing software/hardware led me to have a greater understanding and appreciation for technology, and it also helped me to stand out in the workplace.  In my new position, I have already learned how to use the main HRIS software (Sage Abra, for those interested)  better than all of my coworkers, and I regularly get questions on how to do certain tasks and functions, even though others have used the software for longer than I have.

My advice for entry level HR professionals is to use technology to your advantage.  If you’re unsure of what software you need to be focusing on, or if you don’t have any experience with an HRIS, then focus on the common office software applications like Microsoft Office.  Be the go-to guy (or gal) when it comes to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, etc.  Learn more about HR technology.  It’s the future and all that jazz.

Networking-Learn From the Best

I have met dozens of HR professionals online.  The ones I’ve met online are all superstars (okay, not all).  I’ve been wondering for a few weeks about how I can propose a new program in the workplace.  Instead of re-inventing the wheel, I asked some advice from my HR contacts.  Within an hour, I had great explanations and helpful tips from a handful of extremely helpful and knowledgeable HR professionals.  In the “old days,” that information would have been learned only through trial-and-error or some other equally difficult process, but I was able to avoid some of the mistakes of others (don’t worry, I’m certain there are plenty of mistakes left for me!).

My advice for entry level HR professionals is to get online and get involved with the HR community.  One fantastic lady I met online has been so helpful to me for the past few months.  I told her one day that I would love to repay her, and she replied, “You already have!  I’ve learned more about the upcoming workforce and how they interact just from being with you, and I would not have learned that if we hadn’t connected.”  It’s a give-and-take relationship, and you never know how your interactions will help someone else in the long run.  Invest time in your networking efforts, and it will come back to you multiplied!

Enthusiasm-Let’s Do it!

I’m the new HR guy.  I freely admit that a good bit of what goes on is still over my head, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care.  Every single day/hour contains numerous learning opportunities for me.  I get into the details of things, because I want to not only know how things work, but why they work as well.  When someone mentions an idea, I immediately jump into the conversation.  I have a desire to help our employees grow professionally and personally, and since I am new to the HR world, I don’t see the barriers others do.  While it causes me to look silly sometimes when there’s a good explanation, it also provides opportunities when there isn’t one.  For instance, if something is done in the workplace simply because “it’s always been that way,” then I have the potential to change something for the better.  (I’m currently working on a situation like that, and I hope to share about it soon.)

My advice to entry level HR professionals is to take the initiative.  If someone gives you a stack of papers to file, do it quickly, and then see what else there is to do.  While a good part of my time is spent performing administrative tasks that would cause my eyeballs to explode if I did them all day every day, I get them done quickly and move on to more interesting and engaging tasks like creating methods for gathering turnover metrics, performing employee engagement surveys, and developing new ways to compensate employees for a job well done.  Be enthusiastic, and others will notice.  Be lackadaisical, and they will notice.  It’s up to you to make a good impression.

This is my own personal experience, and I would welcome any additional comments.  Would you prefer to work with someone who exhibits these three characteristics?

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!