Tag Archives: hr jobs

A Day in the Life of a Human Resources Manager

I have been thinking a lot lately as I cross the six year threshold of blogging about human resources management. I started this as a tool for the entry level HR pros, but now I also teach about some fairly advanced concepts. One of the things I don’t do enough of is sharing about the community. There are more than 20,000 monthly readers on this site and about 5,000 email subscribers (the numbers still boggle my mind!). Who are these people? What do they do?

Let’s find out.

Today will start off a series where I talk with some of the HR pros in the audience to find out what they do and what they enjoy about HR. I hope you like the series, and as always, I’d appreciate your feedback. Want to be profiled yourself? Click here.

a day in the life of an hr professional

A Day in the Life of a Human Resources Manager


  • Company/Industry: Holding Company
  • Years with Current Company: 4
  • Years in HR: 10
  • Degree/Cert: MBA-HR, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
  • Average Day: My average day is a standard Director role. I spend time counseling my team of 26 on how to interact with their companies. I also manage our benefits program.
  • HR wit/wisdom: Expect each day to be different. I've seen too many young, promising, talented professionals burn out too quickly because they couldn't adapt to the constant changing chaos that is Human Resources.


  • Company/Industry: Banking (Credit Union)
  • Years with Current Company: 5
  • Years in HR: 10
  • Degree/Cert: Master’s in HR and Organizational Management
  • Average Day: A typical day in the life of … well me, would be one that involves A LOT of talking and interacting with my peers. I feel that when you build a bond with employees, they will come to you with anything and also help you connect with the person your looking. A quarter of my day is spent in meetings brainstorming the next best thing and finally, the rest of my day is spent finding new ways to energize our organization through our new amazing wellness program (that I control … mwahahaha).
  • HR wit/wisdom: I have two!  “I don't fire you, you fire you.” and “Yes. Doing your job is part of your job.”


  • Company/Industry: Government Contractor
  • Years with Current Company: 5
  • Years in HR: 7
  • Degree/Cert: BS in HR, SPHR and SHRM-SCP
  • Average Day: No two days are the same. I spend part of each day working in benefits, compliance, HRIS implementation and employee management.
  • HR wit/wisdom: Network often, so when the auditor knocks on the door, the manager wants across the board terminations, or the employee decides to tell everyone about his weekend exorcism you have a group of people on speed dial to ask questions to and to share with – we can't do it alone!


  • Company/Industry: WebLinc
  • Years with Current Company: ~2
  • Years in HR: 5
  • Degree/Cert: B.S. Industrial/Organizational Psychology, PHR
  • Average Day: I largely spend my time recruiting, or actives related to our recruiting efforts. Next would be employee relations, internal resourcing, and org management. Beyond that it gets chopped up quite a bit day to day, I am a one man army in HR here :)
  • HR wit/wisdom: As an HR professional, my advice to anyone is to never forget how much rules suck.


  • Company/Industry: Freight Forwarding
  • Years with Current Company: 2
  • Years in HR: 6
  • Degree/Cert: Graduate Diploma in HR
  • Average Day: I am the only person in HR in my organisation, which has 370 staff, therefore a majority of what I do is reactive simply due to the volume of work. I recruit without agencies whenever possible so can end up spending a lot of time reading CV’s when I have multiple roles to fill. I interact with our company directors and managers on a daily basis, although it’s usually the same 4-5 managers due to the size and nature of their teams. I am involved in all performance and disciplinary meetings along with the manager. At least once a week I am told by someone that they don’t envy me in my role, but I honestly love it, and can’t see myself doing anything else for a long time to come yet!
  • HR wit/wisdom: Be the reason people want to get into HR, not the reason they hate it.

Coming up soon we’ll have other HR roles and responsibilities, but I appreciate the participants for sharing! Let me know in the comments below what you think about this.

HR Lands at #71 of the 100 Best Jobs

Recently the list of the 100 best jobs was published for this year, and HR was again on the list. This time it ranked number 71 out of 100. It’s always fun to look at these lists to see how they compare, because we all want to think we’re working in a field that others see as important and valuable. It’s difficult to do that in HR, because many people have never run across someone working in human resources that truly cared about their wellbeing and success.

human resources 71 top 100 jobsSo, what were some of the 70 jobs that beat it out?

Jobs that are (supposedly) better than HR

Accountant. (Even during tax time, this somehow managed to beat HR?)

Meeting planner. (I thought planning events was an HR function…)

Compliance officer. (Ditto-doesn’t HR do compliance? Also, how in the world is compliance better than human resources?!?)

Bill collector. (Wow. Calling people to harass them about money they owe is better? Really? Now we’re just getting ridiculous.)

How to get an HR job

From the article:

If Segal was hiring a new specialist, she says she would consider “someone who is smart, understands that HR is part of the management function, has business savvy and a keen analytical mind.” Like other areas of business, HR focuses on innovation and return on investment, she says. “HR needs creative, innovative thinkers to take us past the traditional paper processing and compliance focus to show our value and ROI in the global economy in new ways,” she says. In addition to having fresh ideas, Segal says you must demonstrate good writing skills, be able to work with financial data and have a solid understanding of your industry. “Being in HR in a startup tech company is not the same as being in HR in a bank or a manufacturing company or in the entertainment industry,” she says. “While there is some obvious overlap, if you want to be truly effective, be seen as more than a paper pusher and have a seat at the table, you need to show that you understand the business you're in and how HR can support the bottom line.”

I agree with some of this for sure, but it’s also funny to see that some of these comments still don’t align with how a large portion of the HR population works and thinks even today. Many of those in this profession don’t put any stock in reviewing/analyzing financial data or even having a firm understanding of their industry. They are content to make policies, fight to keep fun out of the workplace, and collect a paycheck until they retire. It’s why blogs like this one have become so popular–because people like you realize that there is more to this profession than what we were told when we started. There’s certainly more to life (and HR) than what meets the eye.

More on breaking into HR, for those who are interested. Also, if you want to check it out, the US News article is here, and you can learn about all kinds of other positions, including finance jobs, banking jobs, and more.

What are your thoughts? Is this job better or worse than the ranking they assigned? Why?

HR-Maybe You’re in the Wrong Job?

One of the most amazing things about participating in an annual SHRM conference is the opportunity to talk with friends and discuss the core concepts of this profession. I hinted at a few of the ideas recently, but today I wanted to go in a different direction. It might be random and disjointed, but I think you need to read it and consider the question: why are you in HR?

A new and different role

key successful hr career

What’s the key to a long and successful HR career?

Sometimes it seems like I am preaching a version of HR that is radically different from the norm. In many places, it’s not uncommon for HR professionals (many of you, even) to be using paper applications to process applicants, working through an annual performance review process with your staff members, and handling a large amount of administrative tasks. And there’s nothing inherently wrong with those activities. Let me be clear. However, I do want to emphasize the fact that there are better ways to do them, if your culture and leadership support that. So a friend approached me about these things and asked:

“If we keep preaching these things and the core of HR hasn’t changed, should we be looking for another job? Are we defining a job that doesn’t exist?”

My answer to that? Maybe. As far as looking for another job, we need to work in places that support what we believe. You can work in a place you don’t enjoy or a place that has work that isn’t fun. Probably not forever, but you can at least do it for a while. However, if you don’t believe in what they do morally, ethically, or spiritually, then it’s never going to work. Get out while you can. As far as the defining a job that doesn’t exist part, that really intrigued me. I believe that there are companies out there for every type of attitude or culture fit. And if there isn’t maybe that’s a reason to start one. Many well-known and much-loved companies started because someone was unhappy or uncomfortable with a prior employer and struck out on their own. Now that we’re discussing beliefs, I ask that you take a trip down memory lane with me.

My inspiration

Think about what you know and believe about HR. You know, the foundation and principles that you rely on every day to make decisions and do your job. You’d probably think that the general beliefs for people in the same profession would be the same, but I’m not quite sure. What would you think if I said those basic principles that you rely one are probably very different from mine? We might share some tendencies, but the variables of where we’ve worked, who we’ve worked with/for, what we’ve learned, etc. can greatly influence that foundation. You might think it’s moot based on where you are in your career currently, but even those early experiences can still shape the direction and trajectory of your life for years to come. When I first jumped into HR, I latched onto two of the most innovative people I’d ever seen. Mind you, I had recently finished a degree in human resources management, so I assumed I knew what the heck I was doing. And then I found Chris and Frank. Chris Ferdinandi and Frank Roche were the authors of RenegadeHR and KnowHR, respectively. The things they were writing were revolutionary, bold, and (somewhat) scary. For someone with a degree in HR, I quickly realized that a large portion of what I knew from school was fairly useless if I wanted to be valuable in this profession going forward. Thinking back, I don’t know that there was a specific moment or article that helped to set me on my current path, but here I am and I can easily see how many of the principles and ideas learned from those men have helped to shape my ideas and career ever since. One interesting thing to note? Chris and Frank are neither one hardcore HR professionals. Chris is more of a creative/communications type guy, and Frank works for a communications company. Interesting that those types of professionals were sharing the most attractive and insightful ideas for a young and inexperienced HR pro. I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I had instead ended up on another website written by someone who thinks policies are the best thing since sliced bread and that we need to be counting every minute that our employees are sitting in their chairs during the day to ensure full “productivity” (ha!). What would I be like? What would I believe? How would my career have been different? I do know that it would have been wildly varied from what it is currently. My previous manager hired me after spending time with me in a mentor group and reading this site to learn my thoughts on leadership, culture, etc. If she had seen something in my writing or behaviors that indicated a poor culture fit, then I would never have had the opportunity to work in my current role. Yes, I’m talking about my own path here, but I want you to think back on yours as well. Whether you’ve been doing this for ten days or twenty years, I think it’s worth the time investment to occasionally look back on your career and take stock of the situation.

Coming back home

I mentioned earlier that I think there’s a company “fit” for everyone, it’s just a matter of finding the company. One of my friends works for a “traditional” HR department. The most important things in their mind are dress codes, attendance policies, and planning the office parties. What I talk about as far as revolutionizing the relationship of HR with leadership, tying into the business needs, and becoming a strategic player on multiple levels will not work with a company like that without a major shift in leadership. It’s embedded. It’s the culture (how things are done). And it won’t change without much pushing, pulling, and prodding. On the other hand, some organizations don’t ask for anything more from their HR team, because they have never seen any reason to do so. If you’re content with spending the majority of your time monitoring your employees for social media use or checking into how many breaks they’re taking, then keep that up. You’ll never disappoint, but you’ll never be great, either. If you want to do and be more as an HR professional, then you need to step up and make that happen. In one of my past roles I kept pushing and working to try and make my department better. I wanted to change “how things were done,” because they were obviously broken and in need of serious repair. I thought that others wanted to see things change as much as I; however, the friction of their unwillingness to change was what eventually drove me to seek employment elsewhere. I had two very young babies at home and it was a scary leap, but I wanted to find a company that actually wanted to hear what I had to say. It’s a very common, yet completely crazy, scenario. We spend all this time and money trying to recruit and hire people because we value what they can offer in terms of knowledge/skills/experience, but then we don’t want to listen to them if what they say isn’t palatable. I’ve noticed that problem is one of the symptoms of a broken workplace. Great leaders should hire people who are excellent, then let them work. Those people will help challenge each of the other staff to up their game (or hopefully they’ll leave and make room for another great hire). That’s how great companies work. Suppressing greatness is never going to lead to greatness. 

A moving target

I wanted to take a second to remind you (and me) that this isn’t a static conversation. Who we were yesterday isn’t necessarily who we’ll be tomorrow.We’re all constantly learning and growing (or we should be). My beliefs and values won’t change, but what I do and how I do it very well may. Once you understand what kind of professional you want to be, find resources to help you grow in that manner. Here’s a quick example: On the flight to the SHRM conference a few weeks ago I picked up a book from a friend to peruse. I had to put it down after twenty pages, because I had two pages of notes and nowhere else to capture my thoughts on the plane. The comments and ideas in the book align with mine, but they come from Broc’s world view, not mine. I get the benefit of his experience and education (informal and otherwise), and I sharpen my own skills and knowledge for the future. I encourage growth often. If you’re not growing, you’re becoming stagnant. It’s time to own your own growth.

Speaking of fit, let’s look up

One of the sessions I was desperately looking forward to at SHRM was “Keeping your Company Culture as you Grow.” That’s one of my fears–that we will lose our sense of identity as we continue to grow in leaps and bounds. One of the speaker’s comments is fitting for this discussion. “If you don’t fit with your CEO on 80% or more of the issues, leave and find one you can work with. You should push when necessary, but it’s not your job to change the CEO’s mind on every decision.” Does that mean that you should bail tomorrow? Probably not, but I do encourage you to re-evaluate your career through the context of the ideas discussed here today. Let’s recap:

  • Does your company need someone innovative or steady? It’s not a right/wrong answer, it’s a “what we need to move to the next level” answer.
  • What are the founding principles of your HR ideology? Are you comfortable with them and what they say about you?
  • Are you a fit with your current organization’s beliefs and values?

I’m hoping this is the beginning of the discussion, not the end. I’d love to see some thoughts on the topic from you and learn more about how I can support you in your role as an HR professional!

Human Resources Job Titles-The Ultimate Guide

HR’s career ladder is never quite clear. So who cares? Human resources job titles mean nothing, right?

Human Resources Job Titles

Climbing the career ladder of HR job titles…

Wrong. Even if you really don’t care about it, others will judge you for better or worse the instant they see your job title. Today we’ll look at some of the various common titles as well as some career development choices you’ll have to make as an HR pro (generalist, specialist, or recruiting tracks).

Human Resources Job Titles-Ultimate Guide

Table of Contents

  1. List of HR Job Titles and Duties
  2. Progressing Up the Ladder
  3. Specialist vs. Generalist
  4. Recruiting-HR’s Cousin
  5. Education’s Role
  6. Additional Resources on HR Job Titles and Careers Continue reading

Is Human Resource Management a Good Career? (Yep!)

The story of my human resource management career rolls merrily along…

Well, it happened. I knew the day was coming, and it is finally here. My manager recently announced her plan to go to part-time and semi-retire from the company, and with her support I was moved to be the lead of all HR/recruiting activities at Pinnacle. It’s a big bump in responsibility (I now report to the CEO, which comes with its own set of challenges and opportunities), and I am very excited about what is in store over the coming months.

Getting my feet under me

First, I’ve been trying to wrap my head around the idea that I no longer have a mentor and sounding board to look up to. My manager was the best leader I’ve ever worked for in my life, and I am really going to miss her. My new manager is also a great leader, but in a very different kind of way (visionary, makes the tough calls, etc.).

Second, I’ve been looking at the to-do list that has been hanging out there on my whiteboard for a few months. Those major initiatives are no longer shared responsibilities–it’s all on me. I either get them done and we succeed as an organization, or I don’t get them done and we have some unpleasant consequences. Plenty of you have been in that place, but it’s still a shock to jump into it without warning.

Third, I have been looking at the team dynamics. I’m no longer reporting to someone who reports to the CEO. I’m on the team of go-to people for the major functions within the organization-contracts, program managers, security, accounting, etc. That team lost a great contributor and added a few more to take on her functions, but only time will tell how that will change affects the leadership of the organization.

“Opportunities for improvement”

When I was considering the position offered to me, I asked my previous manager what she saw as my hurdles in the new role. The answers didn’t really surprise me, and they definitely galvanized me to start preparing myself more for what sure is to come. Potential issues:

  • Youth-I expected this one, but I have yet to see where it’s hampered me thus far (other than just the occasional lack of raw experience to deal with new scenarios). Like I’ve said before (how to move up in your career), if you can kick butt at the level of work you are given, you’ll be given more challenging work.
  • Communication-I am much better at writing than speaking. In other words, my brain processes things much more efficiently through my fingers than through my lips. However, the opportunities for face-to-face conversation are going to drastically increase in this position, and I need to get better at thinking on my feet. I’m actually working on a new post on that topic and hope to share it soon.
  • Attention to detail-It might surprise you, but I’m not a detail-oriented person. I can get things done and check the block for what I need, but I’m much more of a creative thinker. I’ve had to force some level of organization on myself and that will continue to be a priority for me in the coming months.

Sorry that today is all about me! I’ve been meaning to kick out at least a note on the new position, and time keeps getting away from me. I hope the thought process I’ve gone through is helpful for those who are on the bench waiting to be called to the big leagues. It’s a big leap, but with the right preparation and support, you can be successful in your new role. I’m looking forward to the new ideas this position generates and what I can share through my interactions with the C-level leadership in my organization .

Jobs in human resources management (My HR Career #3)

The two previous parts in this series dealt with HR careers and how to get a job in HR and human resource career opportunities. Today I will talk about my own move into a new human resources management job (yippee!). :-)

My time in my first HR job taught me a lot about what I do and don’t want to do in my career. I can still remember talking with Jennifer McClure back at SHRM10 this summer about moving into a job that was a good fit for me. Then, a few weeks ago, I was talking with Dawn Hrdlica about the exact same thing. Both of them gave me the same advice, and I was finally able to do what I really wanted. They said:

You have to know where you want to go with regard to your career. Otherwise the opportunity might pass you by before you realize you wanted it.

So I thought really, really hard about what I wanted to do next. Yeah, I could just leap at any open position that came up, but it wouldn’t really be what I wanted. I made a short list of things that were highly desired in my next job.

  1. Small company
  2. Generalist role
  3. Opportunities for growth/experimentation
  4. Great culture

A few weeks ago I found out about an HR position with a small local startup company (there’s #1!). I applied, but it was over my head in that the person would wear many hats and assume multiple roles (#2). I didn’t expect too much, but it was a job I’d love to have. I contacted the hiring manager and learned more about the position.  A big benefit of the job would be the opportunities (#3) it presented for growth and development. All I needed was the culture…

So, fast forward a few weeks, and I’m sitting there being interviewed by the president, vice president, and operations manager. We get down to the end of the interview, and I’m feeling really confident about the whole meeting. As a parting comment, I asked the president if there was one “must have” for the person who would take the position. He responded that the person had to fit into their culture well, because it was one of his highest priorities that they hire for culture fit (#4!). One of the coolest things about the interview was seeing the president scrolling through my blog while I spoke with the operations manager. :-)

A few short days later, I had an offer letter in hand and my resignation turned in at work. This thing was going to happen. On Monday, November 22nd, I start a new chapter in my career. I’ll be going to Pinnacle Solutions here in Huntsville, AL, and I am so thrilled about the possibilities ahead. I’m thankful to those who have helped me along the way and I can’t wait to see how much I learn and grow in this new position!

Other posts in the HR Careers series:

Human resource career opportunities (My HR career #2)

In a recent post I talked about HR careers and how to get a job in HR. Today I’ll cover career opportunities for those in human resource jobs, specifically how to create career growth opportunities from within your job.

How I grew my career opportunities

I’ll go ahead and admit it: my first HR job wasn’t super strenuous. Surprised? Probably not. Most people in their first HR roles usually end up filing papers (me), handling the dull/routine tasks that nobody else wants (me), and generally wasting their time and energy on things that an admin or temp could do (me again). I don’t want to sound ungrateful for the opportunity to move into the HR profession, but if you have someone with a degree in HR and some enthusiasm, but you’ve kept them in a filing/admin type job for over six months, you’re wasting their brains and hamstringing yourself. They won’t do it forever.

That lack of stress and responsibility left me feeling like my free time could be used in a better way. At that time I had already started blogging to share about my new job and what I was doing/learning, but I really threw myself into it. I started using Twitter and LinkedIn to build connections with other human resources professionals around the world.

I was able to grow a little in my day job, but it seemed like there weren’t many opportunities for growth/challenge. Without Allen (my mentor and best friend) guiding me, I’d have sunk into a slump months ago.

Even with a full time work schedule, I had time for a few activities in my spare time…

  • Interacted daily with VP/director level pros and thought leaders in my field
  • Cofounded an HR conference that drew attendees from around the world
  • Wrote an eBook targeted toward my industry’s certification exam
  • Created and solidified dozens of partnerships with other blogs and businesses
  • And most importantly, I established myself as an expert in my niche both locally and nationally

Yes, I have this whole world of stuff that I do outside my day job, but the full time gig is still what pays my bills and keeps my babies fed. And unless you’ve been briefed on my online (empire) activities, it just doesn’t sound very impressive to say, “I’m an HR blogger.” Eventually I came to the realization that the day job needed to keep up with the pace of the rest of my activities, and I started looking for another job.

Most of us have made some job changes in the past few years. You’ve heard my story. What prompted that change for you?

Other posts in the HR Careers series: