There seems to be a trend with HR folk that when asked "What did you get your degree in?" The answer is everything but "Human Resources." It's one of those professions that people just fall into. And my background is no different. I grew up in a small rural town and my view on the professional world was that women can be teachers, secretaries, and nurses and men can be teachers or oil field workers. There wasn't a lot of professions that
I knew about and it didn't help that everyone in my family were teachers. But why would I know human resources ever existed? HR people are solitary and elusive, rarely seen in the wild. The only thing I knew about the corporate world when I was in high school was that I got my paycheck on pay day.
In high school I took debate and my teacher told me that I should really think about going to law school. I completely brushed it off, never seriously considered it for a minute. Doesn't that require, like, 10 years in college?? No thank you! So, I majored in the ever-so-generic "Communication Studies" and started my career as a low-level customer service representative at a local cable and internet company. That was the first time that I talked to someone that worked in Human Resources. I met with her on my first day of work, she conducted my drug test, she told me all about insurance, and she always walked around the office with slight smile on her face, and I thought, "Man, she must really love her job. I bet it's awesome to have that much power in a company. You know everything about everyone. Maybe that was why she was always smiling?" Now, I think it may have been more of one of those tricks, if you smile you can trick your brain into thinking that you're happy.
Well, after a few years I moved to the big city and started my HR career as a
Recruiting Coordinator. It was a nationwide company that hired home healthcare nurses and I was responsible for making sure they submitted all of their onboarding paperwork before they were scheduled to work. I actually liked the job. It was repetitive but it was fun to talk to all the new people coming on board from all over the country. I especially liked being a resource for them when they had questions. I wanted to have as much information as I could so I could quickly answer their questions and they'd feel confident about starting a new job with us. After only 9 months, I was selected by my manager to promote into an open HR Generalist position and excitedly accepted.
But what the hell were they thinking?? I was put in charge of worker's compensation, FMLA, and background checks. I had zero actual HR experience, zero knowledge of employment law, and zero education in anything related to human resources. The first day I sat down with the current HR Generalist who was training me as she moved into a management position, and she asked "So, are you familiar with FMLA?" "Um, not really," I answered. "OK, well just so you know FMLA can be an individual liability lawsuit, so if you mess up on FMLA, you can be personally sued." I nodded my head, "Alright, good to know." And with that, I started down the path of my HR career. Shortly after, I got my PHR certification and
actually briefly considered a law degree, but doesn't that require, like, $100,000 in student loans?? No thank you! I ended up returning to school to get my Master's in Human Resource Management (honestly, something I regret doing, that might be for another blog post).
In my HR career of 12 years, I've had experience in healthcare, big box retail, the cannabis industry, and manufacturing. I've worked with HR departments on site, remote HR teams, but for the last 5 years, I've been a department-of-one. I'm writing this blog as a place for all the lonely HR professionals out there to find their people. Even working with an HR team can be a lonely place if you don't have right support. Where do we go when we simply need to vent or make a legitimate complaint? Going to a work friend would be unprofessional, if we're even lucky enough to have a work friend. We don't always have an outlet for a complaint because that outlet is many times the person we have a problem with. Usually the answer is nowhere. We keep it bottled up and find HR forums on social media for some respite. If you made it as an HR professional through the last three years, then you probably know your share of frustration and loneliness. This won't always be the place for the
"professional" advice, but HR workers are people too and sometimes we just need the human advice.