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Noble? Open Your Eyes.

I’ve been in the business world for close to 20 years now. For more than half of those years, I’ve been in a profession I once knew very little about and cared nothing for. I’m pretty sure the term Human Resources never even came up in Business School (if it did, it certainly didn’t resonate.) And yet here I am waving the HR profession’s banner. Why? I have no freakin’ idea. And most who know me…like really know me…simply bust a gut at the idea of an organization actually letting me set foot near their HR team. There you have it, I probably don’t belong here. I wake up some days and wonder whether this is really my life. Is this what I was put on this earth to do? No way. It’s a means to an end and I don’t mind saying it.

‘Tis the season when those approaching the end of their commitment to higher-education are starting to get serious about finding their first “real” job; hopefully many are focused on getting one that might actually lead to a career. I wish you luck…you’ll need a lot of it. For those of you who have even the slightest notion that HR might be your calling, I could probably give you a pretty good sales pitch for why you should “go for it.” That may be what you want to hear, but it’s not what you need to hear. You really need someone to tell you why you just might want to avoid this crazy f’d up gig. So here it is. Please don’t get into HR if you:

  • Want to be respected based solely on the virtue of your title or role,
  • hope to reap bountiful financial rewards,
  • aren’t good at taking orders,
  • struggle with caste systems and second-class citizenship,
  • frustrate easily,
  • are allergic to rules and regulations,
  • hate balancing multiple commitments,
  • are most motivated by creative expression,
  • tire of mediocrity quickly,
  • aren’t comfortable saying ‘no,’
  • can’t tolerate injustice, inequality, or inequity,
  • sicken when immersed in drama,
  • don’t want to be unsung,
  • grow faint when mired in administrivia,
  • want endless access to upward mobility.

I certainly had noble aspirations for joining this profession. My friends, HR and nobility (check the definition) have very little to do with one another. That doesn’t mean it isn’t interesting, challenging, rewarding, and important. Just know what you’re getting yourself into; that way you’ll at least be getting into it with your eyes wide open.

Image Credit: Pieces of Phour

  • Chris Ferdinandi – Renegade HR

    So on one hand, you’re right. All of those shitty things do apply to HR people at many organizations.

    On the other hand, I fit every attribute on your list, with the exception of maybe one or three. And I love my job. I hated generalist work, but I love what I’m doing now. I straddle the line between creative director and HR guy.

    Maybe I’d have been happier in another profession, but I love being able to apply my creative talents in a way that helps people.

    This is unusually pessimistic for you, Charlie!
    Chris Ferdinandi – Renegade HR´s last [type] ..The Great Fallacy

  • Charlie

    @Chris – not pessimistic, just misunderstood. i, like you, fit most of this profile. and i, like you, love my job. well i love it as much as one sanely should love a job. but it took me some time to assimilate to these issues…and it took a lot of patience. there may be some out there who don’t have that patience.

    there is a dark-side to every profession. this post could have been written just as easily about accounting, or marketing – bullet points might have been different, but it could be written nonetheless. i’m just saying HR isn’t all puppy dogs and balloons and hugs & kisses. and a lot of the time it isn’t even really about “helping people.” it can be a thankless, down and dirty kind of profession. and in the interest of “full-disclosure” i just want to make sure people get that.

  • HR Introvert

    I started trying to think of a job worth doing that didn’t have many of those attributes. Now that the list of “cons” is thoroughly established (you must not do too much recruiting!), I wonder what the list of things are that must fall mostly into the category of Personally Rewarding.
    Different for each of us to a large degree, but something about the promise of the human contribution must be a common thread in there – something worth putting up with that list for!
    HR Introvert´s last [type] ..HR Musical Monday – Annie!