Tag Archives: reader question

4 Signs a Company Doesn’t Value HR [Reader Question]

Hi all!

It’s been a minute. Working on a lot of fun stuff between the latest book, HR Summer School, regular livestream events, a ton of speaking at HR conferences and industry events, and so on. But I still get questions pretty regularly and love addressing them when I can (here’s the archive you can skim). Here’s one that came in recently:

I’m looking for my next HR job. At my last company I realized too late that they didn’t really care about what HR had to say. They had only hired me to check a box, and my opinions and ideas didn’t really matter. How do I find a company that really values HR input and practices?


Ouch. I think a lot of us in HR have had an experience where we got surprised by something like this, even though we’re often the ones who have our radar up for leadership weirdness and other things that might make a workplace toxic or unsustainable.

That said, if you’re one of those leaders looking to make a change, here’s what I would recommend looking for or asking about in the evaluation process.

  1. What’s the HR to employee ratio? 1 to 50? 1 to 100 (which is often kicked around as an industry average)? 1 to 1,000? While it’s not an exact science, the more extreme the ratio, the more you can tell what the company expects from HR. 1:50 = high-touch HR. 1:1,000 = paper-pusher HR.
  2. If you can see the location, where does HR sit? Are you in the middle of the people, far removed from the people? This isn’t a deal breaker but it’s good to know if it jives with your expectations and preferences. HR CAN work remotely, but it can be challenging.
  3. What would be your first 5-10 priorities in the role? If everything they want you to focus on is compliance-oriented, then that’s telling. Handbook. Policies. Absenteeism. Related: they avoid or dodge discussions of more modern HR practices like stay interviews or technology. You are looking for relationship-building, establishing trust, etc. as priorities, not just getting a handbook hammered out ASAP.
  4. Ask about past investments, focus, and behavior. Past behavior is a predictor of future behavior overall from a trend perspective. If they haven’t invested in employee-centric things in the past, why now? What’s changed? Why do you have any reason to believe they will do differently next year than they did last year?

It’s hard to calculate this, but I’ve seen this to be true at many, many companies: if the HR department is consistently left out of important discussions, planning, or decision-making processes, this is a likely sign that the company does not value their contributions.

Best of luck to you, Jaded!

How do I start my own HR consulting business? [Ask upstartHR]

Have a question you’d like answered? Just shoot it our way at ben AT upstartHR DOT com and we’ll see if we can cover it in a future blog!

Thank you so much for your insight! I ultimately would like to launch my own business as an HR consultant, with a focus on culture.


Hi Carrie! How neat! There’s always an opportunity for great service and support in this area. As you probably know, there’s a range of HR consulting opportunities. 

  • Some people lean into the compliance, handbooks, and HR audits side of things. That’s a great way to help employers get themselves protected and establish a foundation for future HR innovation and growth. 
  • Others have a specialty, like recruiting, compensation, training, etc. They are most often brought in for special projects or to help cover for a gap in an existing HR team’s abilities (or time, if they’re too busy). 

You mentioned culture specifically, which is an interesting niche. There are some people doing some good work in this area already that you should connect with and learn from. For instance, I interviewed Angie Redmon on the We’re Only Human podcast about how she helps companies become a “best place to work,” and she shed light on her methodology and approach. 

When it comes to the actual consulting piece, just know that many people who plan to start a business (even HR pros who have inside info on how a business operates!) often underestimate what it takes to do the marketing, sales, bookkeeping, etc. to keep it running. That’s not a red flag, just a caution to go in eyes wide open. 

I’ve written on those topics in the past pretty extensively and would recommend these two as good resources: 

If you like to listen, I recorded an HRChat podcast with Bill Banham of the HR Gazette on how to break out of the trenches and into HR consulting with some good advice and info. 

You may find it’s the best decision you ever made, or you might realize it’s more difficult than you expected. The bottom line is that the decision isn’t permanent and you can test it for a season just to find out for yourself. Above all, have fun! 

My Kid Wants to Be a Recruiter. How Do I Help Them? [Reader Question]

Have a question for yourself or a friend? Feel free to share it and we’ll try to address it in a Reader Question segment!

My daughter went to school for Performance Arts and Psychology but as Covid has shut down live venues, has decided to reinvent herself as a recruiter. For those in Talent Attraction, what would you recommend as best next steps for breaking into the field? -Tammy

Hi Tammy! This is so exciting, because I’ve always hoped that at least one of our kids would follow in my footsteps into HR/recruiting. Congrats to you!

First of all, this is THE time to get into the space. There are more jobs posted than ever before, and you can find good opportunities to jump in, learn, and be great at the recruiting profession. Look at the number of jobs available right now:

It’s more than 5x higher than it was two years ago!

Now, from a practical perspective, I’ve written extensively on how to break into the profession over the years.

The best guide for that is here: How to break into human resources and recruiting

The thing about recruiting specifically is that staffing is the best and most common way of getting in, and it has been for a long time.


It’s intense (high volume, quotas, and fast paced), but it also can create a set of skills that help a recruiter stand apart from the others who just post a job and wait for applicants to show up (that isn’t happening these days!)

The people who end up succeeding in the recruiting profession often (but not always) have some of that in their background.

In addition, there are 40+ ways to learn some of the basics of HR and recruiting without paying a single dime. We have had thousands of HR pros use our recommended tools to learn and grow. A great example is our upcoming HR Summer School event (which is free) and will cover some of the most current and interesting topics in the HR and recruiting space.

Her training in performing arts can come in handy here. Learning how to:

  • Convey emotions
  • Get someone to understand your perspective
  • Pick up on their social cues
  • Put on a bit of a show

Those are all pieces of what makes a recruiter great. She has a fighting chance if she’ll go all in!

Best of luck to her!

If anyone else has suggestions, please feel free to share in the comments below!

Are HR consultant jobs a good idea? [Reader Question]

Today's question is about HR consultant jobs and whether they are a good career move. 

Note: I LOVE to get questions from readers (just like the one below). If you have a question you'd like to ask here or on the podcast, please send it to questions AT upstarthr.com or record a short voice note here anonymously: https://upstarthr.com/question

See other reader questions here. Today's question is about HR consultant jobs and whether they are a good career move for someone who is trying to break into HR. 

I have been working in a retail job and want to get into HR. Are HR consulting jobs a good idea for me? I have my degree and want to take the certification exam when I can. 

Good News and Bad News

Hi Luis! Thanks so much for the question. Let’s dive into a few aspects of this because it’s not an easy yes/no answer when it comes to HR consultant jobs. 

I’ll start with the tough news: if you’re working in retail and have not been in HR yet, it’s going to be very difficult to jump right into consulting. There are a few reasons, like the fact that 80% of what you learn about HR happens on the job, not in a classroom. 

learning hr consultant jobs

That said, don’t lose hope! I have some ideas for you that can help you make some headway. 

Breaking into HR and Other Tips

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What is a Good HR Job for Introverts? [Reader Question]

Occasionally I get a question from a reader, such as below. If you have a question you'd like to ask here or on the podcast, please send it to questions AT upstarthr.com or record a short voice note here anonymously: https://upstarthr.com/question

See other reader questions here. Today's question is about how introverts can thrive in the world of HR. 

What is a good HR job for introverts? I am somewhat shy and am looking for a way to follow my passion for HR without totally stressing myself out. 


Hi Monique! Thanks for asking a question that so many of us have wondered about. Truth be told, I’m quite shy in person. When at events where I don’t know someone, I’m often more likely to read a good book in my hotel room than go to a networking event and meet people! While there are tons of HR job titles and jobs out there, I am going to make the case that introverts can do many of those very well. 

Some research shows that we are fairly split as a group of introverts and extroverts in the human race, but it can feel like extroverts really run the show in many cases. However, I have met so many people who are able (like I have trained myself) to appear boisterous and friendly while maintaining their introversion at the same time. Let’s break it down a bit. 

Shyness vs Introversion

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How Do I Create an HR Department When My Company Doesn’t Have One [Reader Question]

One of the most popular features here is a series answering reader questions. If you have a question you’d like to ask here or on the podcast, please send it to questions AT upstarthr.com or record a short voice note here anonymously: https://upstarthr.com/question

See other reader questions here. Today’s question is about starting an HR department when the company doesn’t have one yet.

Hey there! Hope all is well with you and your family! My name is Demee and I just finished watching your video on YouTube that you posted several years ago. I will give you some quick background on myself.

I was a Business Manager at a massage business for almost 2 years and decided to step down because I had a feeling that I was on a sinking ship–and it turns out that I was right! So I took a huge leap of faith and changed fields completely! I am now an Oral Surgery Assistant (I had no experience & they trained me) for an oral surgeon group with 9 locations. I’ve currently been at my position for almost 2 years now and I realize that there is no HR department so I see the need for this and want to start one.

Do you have any tips or suggestions for me? I would have to convince my manager of this and he would then have to probably bring it up to the doctors. I have experience hiring/terminations, processing employee verifications, doing payroll, creating/editing the employee handbook (which we desperately need), and I used a payroll technology vendor in the past.

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What Software Skills do I Need to Work in HR? [Reader Question]

Occasionally I get a question from a reader, such as below. If you have a question you’d like to ask here or on the podcast, please send it to questions AT upstarthr.com or record a short voice note here anonymously: https://upstarthr.com/question

See other reader questions here. Today’s question is about software, tools, and technology that HR pros should know about.

As I continue to try to attain entry level Human Resources employment I find it difficult to overcome the issue I keep running into being ‘overqualification’. To overcome this I decided in May to expand my current skillset and work towards software certifications that might increase the chances of getting a role as a Human Resource Analyst. My questions are:

What are some software certifications I could get that organizations would strongly desire their HR Professionals have?

What are some software packages you would recommend that may help stand out within the HR job market? I’m currently enrolled in Python Institute, Tableau Desktop and Alteryx Designer Core eLearning platforms to hopefully earn certifications in each by this July. Any additional online resources may also help.


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