When I went back to school in 2005 to get my Master’s Degree, it had been a decade since I had stepped into a classroom. I really didn’t know what to expect. I knew one thing was for certain though; I wanted a different career. I was tired of having my paycheck and livelihood dependant upon if I made my quota from month to month. I hated being an “Account Executive” and I hated being labeled “a sales guy.”
I remember it all too well when I stepped into my first class. Alan Pevoto was my professor, and as he shut the door, the first words that came out of his mouth were “Why do you want to be in HR?” The answers varied, but I could see the snicker on the professor’s face when one of them said, “I like people.”
Since I have been in HR and Recruitment after obtaining my Masters, I know now why Dr. Pevoto snickered. I recently received a call from someone who wanted to make a career change from sales to HR and he had the exact same answer.
Let me make this simple. If you want to be in HR because “you are a people person” or “you like people,” you need to choose another profession.
Let’s talk about HR for a minute. First, it is one of the most difficult professions to get into. Why? Depending on the size of the company, HR departments are typically pretty small. Second, you will need to get the buy in from most of the stakeholders in the organization. That could mean the finance department, marketing department, sales department, or any other department within your organization. You will be working with them directly, so if one person thinks they can’t get along with you, then you will probably get passed on as a candidate. They will choose someone else for the role.
Once you get hired into HR, your role is probably going to be different than you imagined. Let me tell you a few things that you will deal with as an HR professional: Hiring and firing of employees; layoffs; employee relations issues; budgetary constraints; disgruntled employees; benefit questions; FMLA; the workforce commission; and managerial issues. These are just a few things that you are going to be involved with in HR. The list goes on and on. Does that sound like everybody will just love you and everything will be peachy? No.
A good reason to get into HR is not because you “are a people person.” A good reason to get into HR is because the career chose you. Most people work their way up the ladder and advance their career and move into an HR role. People in HR are very smart, do not get rattled easily, are great at multi-tasking and want to improve an organization.
An organization needs HR leaders. People who see the holistic view of an organization and help the company achieve not only their goals today, but also the ones in the future. They work closely with all departments in an organization and are great listeners.
Do you feel like this is the profession for you now? It is a great field and one I love and am very passionate about. Before you decide to be in HR though, you should know what you are getting into.
Why are you in HR? Your answer isn’t because you are a “people person” is it?