Sharing my wisdom (insert snickering here…)


I have been set up on a kind of HR blind date.

An associate who is not in HR has a friend who is trying to get into HR and she suggested that we meet for coffee so that her friend can pick my brain.

I’ve been in contact by email and asked what she might want to know (so I can prepare and not look completely clueless) and she said she’s interested in learning more about my career path and any advice I might have to give someone like her.

Oh boy.

As established here, I like to give advice. Of course it’s based almost entirely on my experience and limited perspective. So I suppose that would be my first piece of advice…be careful who you ask for advice.

And then my career path.

Hmmm….set out on road trip with only a vague idea of what your destination is. Take the long, and not necessarily most scenic route, and make sure to stop frequently for bathroom breaks. It’s true. I mean I named the blog Accidental HR for a very logical reason.

However, I do not want to waste this person’s time, so I’m putting together a bit of a list of things to keep in mind.

Here it is:

#1 – Are you sure you want to work in HR or is it only the media sensationalized (?!) version of HR that you are looking for? Remember, all those glamorous people who play HR practitioners in movies and tv shows…it’s not really like that.

#2 – Get non-HR work experience…you need to experience good and bad HR from the other side of the desk. You need to understand how it feels to be front-line and what the consequences of a bad hire can be.

#3 – Join an HR association/ group – meet other HR people, join the mentor program they offer. Talk to people – find out what worked for them and what didn’t.

#4 – Even more important that #3 – join non-HR associations/groups…talk to people about things other than HR. Find out what the other issues and challenges that plague organizations are and how you might help

#5 – Visit the Whipper Snapper HR blog. This is crucial for people starting out in HR. She gets it without being idealistic. Her video “How I got into HR” is great. And if nothing else, it’s just cool to say “Whipper Snapper”.

#5b – Then visit other HR bloggers and Twitter folk…it’s a fantastic way to gain insight into what others are experiencing.

#6 – Do not be afraid of social media. Embrace it. It is not the enemy of HR, in fact it may be the thing that saves you. There are great resources out there – check out Twitter and start following HR and non-HR people. And don’t be discouraged by the fact that it may seem a bit clique-y (as @HRGalFriday rightly pointed out in her Fun Friday post).

#7 – Make sure you get experience in recruiting. You may like it. You may hate it, but you have to experience it and understand that from a starting point – recruiting branches into everything.

#8 – Seriously. Have you really thought about whether you want to work in HR? It should not be a default career because you don’t know what else to do. Like taking Psychology in university.

#9 – Read. A lot. And only a small portion of that reading should be about HR. Be aware. Be knowledgeable. Be valuable.

#10 – Not withstanding #1 and #9, you can always opt out. Remember, it’s a career choice not a death sentence. Be proud of your decisions.

I’m not sure whether this is going to be useful to her. I’m certainly not trying to discourage her, but at the same time I have to be honest. It’s not easy, it’s not always fun, but then again…no job is.

My final thoughts with respect to HR, or as many view it, the Dark Side:

“When you look at the dark side, careful you must be … for the dark side looks back.”


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