It has been just about 15 years since I consciously decided that I wanted to make the field of Human Resources my chosen career. Now this would have been fine if I came to this revelation say during my senior year of high school or maybe even part way through my undergraduate studies. Instead, I reached this epiphany in my late 30’s! So with all due respect to my friend Steve Browne, author of an amazing book called “HR on Purpose: Delivering Deliberate People Passion”, I did eventually choose “HR on Purpose,” I guess I was just a little late to the party!
Without going through all of the boring details (at least in this blog post) of how this unlikely journey started, let’s just say that my “coming to HR” path is not one that I would immediately recommend to any aspiring HR professionals. Don’t get me wrong; I wouldn’t change a thing about it since I truly believe that my varied and arguably, unrelated work experiences of my past have helped shape me to be the HR professional that I am today. However, upon reflection and mapping out the crazy path I took, I thought that I would just take a moment and share with you the top ten reasons that I think I eventually chose and remain in a Human Resources career, so here goes….
TOP TEN REASONS I CHOSE TO AND REMAIN IN HUMAN RESOURCES
- Servant Leadership (I like to help people.)
Not sure if it comes from my upbringing, but I have always tried to go out of my way to try and help others. I think that I was “paying it forward” long before I became aware of the phrase and this trait has been one key component to help me be successful in HR. It is what we do!
- Interpreter (I like to take complex issues and simplify them.)
I was that kid that took apart his toys to find out how they worked! Now, I see how this has helped me as an HR professional. We need to be “experts” in many areas and often need to first interpret and understand (i.e. take apart) and then translate (i.e. put back together) complex laws, policies, and rules into “plain English” or practical into practical policies to communicate to our employees.
- Challenge (I tend to get bored easily.)
From as early as I can remember, I have always had an overactive and restless mind and always sought out new challenges. Working in HR certainly presents its’ share of daily “challenges” and there usually isn’t much time to get bored easily! Challenge accepted!
- Steward of Information (I am “wired” to absorb and retain a ton of information.)
For some reason, I remember a lot of information (yes, sometimes useless information but hey, I am the guy that you want on your trivia team!) and this comes in handy working in HR. We are an information-centric profession, and knowing (or at least where to find) information is both appealing to me and something that comes natural to me.
- So Many Directions (There are so many areas that you can focus on in HR.)
See #3 above. For someone that has the attention span of my collie mix Brandy on a neighborhood walk (look, squirrel!) HR is the perfect place for me. I have found areas in HR that I really like and others, well…not so much, but I am able to dabble in so many areas on a daily basis and also have throughout my HR career.
- Making a Difference (I like to see the results of my work but don’t necessarily need to see the credit.)
I have heard HR referred to often as a “thankless job” and it times, it may feel that way. Much of what we do is often just “expected”, sometimes underappreciated, but the “little” things we do often touch so many individual lives in so many ways and we clearly make a difference everyday (even if it is not always recognized).
- Community (HR folks have a connection….#HRTribe anyone?)
I have worked in many types of jobs in many different industries, but I have found that HR professionals seem to have a special bond and connection with one another. We see and perform many of the same tasks and functions albeit, across a variety of industries, and I think this may help us to have a common bond when we connect. And oh the stories…
- Rules (I have always (OK, usually) tried to be a rule follower.)
For the most part, I have been the person that tries to follow the rules, obeys the walk light, and follows written recipes. (I will however plead the fifth when i comes to driving the posted speed or building furniture from IKEA, in those cases, rules are somewhat optional) In HR, we first need to understand and then often enforce rules, but we also have the opportunity and responsibility to enforce these rules fairly and consistently.
- Knowledge and Input (I like to “be in the know”.)
In well run organizations, HR is at the forefront of strategic planning, major decision-making discussions, and most organizational changes. I like to be in a role that has both a pulse on what is going on in the organization as well as the opportunity to provide meaningful input to decision makers. Hopefully human resources has this role in your organization. (I did not say “seat at the table….”)
- Accomplishment (I think that I’m starting to get pretty good at this HR thing!)
As I have moved forward along my HR path, each new connection and each new experience has helped to make me a better and more effective HR professional. This has also allowed me to help mentor others that might just be entering the field. While I will always have more to learn, my personal goal each day is to just be a better HR professional (and I guess person for that matter) tomorrow than I was today. Success is contagious.
So, if you work in human resources or are considering it, what would be on your “top ten list?” Creating this list helped to remind me of just a few of the reasons why I took a leap of faith 15 years ago from a stable and established career, returned to school and started and still remain on my career path in human resources. Your list may look similar or may look quite different, who knows? Regardless of your reasons for choosing to work in HR, I hope that you realize the importance and influence of your role as a Human Resources Professional and take the time to appreciate and reflect upon the impact we make upon our organizations and on our employees. This fact alone should be at the top of your list!