Working in HR? If you could start again, would you?

Steve Bridger

| 0 Posts

Community Manager

22 Nov, 2017 15:59

You're looking at me quizzically... 'Odd question', you're thinking. 'Why ask that?'

No agenda... I was just thinking out loud... those of you who are HR (or L & D) veterans; with all your experience and expertise - if you knew then (at the start of your career journey)... what you know now, would you do it all again?

Maybe you are relatively new to the profession. What would you do differently? 

  • In reply to Steve Bridger:

    I think Elizabeth pointed out the key factor about HR (when practised or allowed to function properly) earlier, when she referred to our ability (and need) to be present in every sector and every decision of our employing businesses. We can (and should) have enormous influence; not just in "people processes" and administration, but in the whole structure and mechanism of how people are both utilised and treated within commerce and industry.

    It is a tightrope, an ever-changing balancing of unpredictable factors and events, and one often walked alone. (As both reflected in and demonstrated by this Community).

    If I can pinch David's mantle as "Community Poet" for a moment.

    Kipling summed it up in a line from the poem,"If":

    "....If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, and treat those two impostors just the same...."

    ...You'll be HR, my Son....

    (or of course Daughter.... But Kipling was pre-SDA).

    If you want a quieter life: Choose accountancy ...Or bomb disposal! :-)

  • In reply to Peter:

    ....and in my mix of careers I forgot to mention, delivering two babies! (Odd to remember they will be in their late thirties now!)

  • In reply to Steve Bridger:

    I decline any responsibility for . I made use of all the skills available to me, including hers, and gave her all the boring jobs I didn't want to do. Then I left her without a subordinate to do the same thing to! Credit (and blame) are hers alone.

    In a way, I did "start again". After a six-year career break (the preceding seven years of which were in uniform) the only job I could get was an entry-level FTC HR job on an entry-level salary.

    So yes, when I started again, I chose HR.

  • Hindsight is a wonderful gift!

    I think that I best describe myself as "stumbling across HR' when a mature student (27) at university, and being made an offer that I couldn't refuse!

    My first career wasn't a boyhood ambition - I didn't have any of those - and I left 6th form to join BP as a navigating cadet....an opportunity to travel the world, gain qualifications and to hold down a stimulating and challenging job. Six years later marriage loomed and the pre-nup agreement was quite straight forward - quit the sea within two years and settle down to land-based life.

    I thought that the Probation Service might be a career path for me so enrolled at uni for a social work diploma which included social work placements....quickly disillusioning me that this was a lifetime career option for me BUT I wangled a two week placement in the personnel department of a local factory which sparked some interest. Anyway, I extended my uni stay for an extra 2 years to do an economic and politics degree (no £9,250 pa fees in those days!) and then used the uni recruitment "milk round" to explore options. An offer as a supervisor training officer lured me into HR.

    It was a great way to get involved with many aspects of running businesses, although most of my corporate HR career was spent involved in retrenchment/redundancy projects during the '80s and early '90s, and that is not at all motivational, although I took pride in managing it well and supporting displaced staff in finding new jobs. A few years in a senior management development role rounded off my corporate career before I, too, fell on my sword and availed myself of "the golden wheel barrow" 18 years ago to set up my own HR-based business - now primarily focused on 360-degree feedback.

    HR has been a core thread of most of my 55 years of working life and has been mostly stimulating, challenging and enjoyable. Running my own business has been fun - and the ubiquity of the Internet has enabled me to become a Digital Nomad, running the business from tropical beaches, cruise ships and even at MacDonalds around the world! I'm not too sure that too many other business disciplines would have given me that option.

    Would I do the same again, knowing what I do now? You bet I would! There may be easier ways to earn my corn, but there's more to life than money. I shall miss the stimulus when I hand over the survey business to my daughter in three weeks time (my 73rd birthday) but I'll still keep some of the thrill of the chase as a director of our local miniature railway community interest company which was resurrected this summer......doing my HR bit - what else!
  • I definitely blagged my way into HR and I'm so glad that I did! I was looking for a new challenge after 10 years in the recruitment agency industry and found out that one of our clients were recruiting an HR/Office Manager. I went to the interview, and told them that I had always wanted to work in HR, recruitment was the closest I could get to but that there were a lot simularities so I thought I would be a good fit. I also said that I wished I had studied the CIPD qualifications etc etc... managed to get the job - they offered to pay for me to pay to do the CPP, which I thought was great - until I finished the CPP and they wanted me to do the L7 masters degree!! (Be careful what you wish for hey!). So here I am nearly 10 years later and about to start my first foray into public sector HR! I daresay it's going to be very different to energy and financial services, but I'm looking forward to it nonetheless!
  • In reply to Robey:

    Excuses, excuses; just not sure who's making excuses for whom :-)

    'Sounds like a pretty good professional partnership to me.

    Guilty as charged......

    P :-)
  • In reply to Teresa:

    Hi Teresa

    I can empathise with your story as I came to London 35 years ago after just getting married. I had left a job in Slough as a subscription administrator for Newsweek International. A really good job in those days. When I came to London I had just turned 21 and I got a job in the NHS dealing with their tenders. After a few weeks I applied for a job in the old GLC and was placed in a pool of Clerical Officers. It was exciting and I did not know which department I would end up in. I was placed in the department for recreation and the arts as a personnel officer - so HR chose me. As a veteren I have never looked back and I would chose HR again every time.
  • hmm, to be honest I am grateful for my 12 years. It has taught me a lot. Right now though I am looking at having a complete career change, I have made the decision that this will be my last HR role and I am going to give it my all so it ends on a high. I absolutely love helping people and seeing them thrive, watching the lightbulb moment. At the moment I can see a shift in my thinking, I am getting more and more frustrated, I feel restricted and contracted for 8 hours+ a day. I sat and cried in traffic last week, not just for me but for everyone around me, "that" is our normal, so many people wasting hours upon hours driving to and from jobs that don't light them up. I am studying to be Level 4 Personal Trainer and am just about to start a Transformational Life Coaching Diploma. It was the choice to do those or my full CIPD (currently Assoc CIPD). My goal is to work with young adults who feel lost and have no idea what to do with their lives or what their purpose is.

    Do what you LOVE! If you love HR... keep at it!
    Nicola x
  • In reply to Peter:

    I think the "when practised or allowed to function properly" is a key qualifier. Clearly this is not always the case and has led to me considering downshifting to secretarial work in the past as the pay differential at past employers was nowhere near sufficient to outweigh the additional responsibility.
  • Like a number of others I fell into HR rather than it being a career choice. I left college with a secretarial qualification and worked in that profession for a number of years.

    Whilst working for the Plant Manager at my previous employer, I started to do work for the HR Department and when he left in 2001 and the new plant manager didn't want a PA, I moved into HR. They paid for me to gain a CIPD qualification and I have been working in the profession ever since.

    I now work in a stand alone HR role on a part time basis due to health issues.

    I enjoy HR and although it can be very challenging at times I do wish that I had started in the profession earlier.
  • In reply to Rachel Swatridge:

    Hi Rachel

    Being in a standalone position can be quite challenging - if you need anyone to compare notes with at anytime please feel free to contact me. Let me know if you want my contact details.
  • Interestingly I'm in exactly that position.

    I sort of fumbled my way in to HR after deciding that I didn't like what I was currently doing and having experienced some 'people' issues of my own. I took a conscious decision to self-learn and found my way at the bottom of the ladder with someone who took pity on me and my enthusiasm who gave me a job.

    I left the industry 2 years ago, and started my own business in an entirely different world to HR. I always had an idea I'd come back to it when the kids were of an age where 2 parents working wouldn't impact them too much. And then I got the proverbial offer I couldn't refuse and ended up back here many years before I intended. So yes, I have and would do it all over again. Would I do it differently? Absolutely. But then....I might not have been offered the role I'm in now if I had!
  • Like some other people on here I fell in HR and Finance and Health and Safety I never set out to do any of them. I was one of those people who was very good in the classroom but hated exams. I took the decision to leave school without taking any of my exams. All I wanted to do was work and that is exactly what I have done since. I started my career as a data entry clerk, moved to a computer operator and whilst doing that role my new boss, a chartered accountant decided that I had a flare for accounts as he had watched me helping the accounts staff when they had a problem. He offered me an Accounts Payable Supervisor role and then trained me in how to do accounts. The company closed and I moved to into other finance roles deciding that I actually really liked finance despite being useless at mental arithmetic.
    Whilst working part time in one company they merged with another company and were looking for someone to do the HR role. I put myself forward for it and got it suddenly being responsible for 100 people, involved in the TUPE process and then later redundancies due to the closure of the business. I decided that although I had done practically everything involved in HR no one would hire me as I didn't have any qualifications and went back to finance. HR kept finding me though as every role I took asked me to be involved with HR.
    So here I am 37 years later as a Director of Finance and Business Admin which encompasses just about everything you could think of except maybe sales and marketing. I am desperately trying to complete Level 5 Diploma but struggling to make myself as I hate studying but know that if I want to carry on in HR elsewhere I need to complete it.
    I know I love finance and probably should have studied for my accountancy qualification but my CEO suggested I do the HR qualification so I went for it. The dilemma is that I also like HR but don't really know if either are what I would really like to do. If I had my time again I might have looked at a possible career path for myself but I don't think I can have any regrets as I have progressed through the ranks pretty well.
  • In reply to Caroline Veronica De Silva:

    Thanks Caroline contact details would be great.
  • In reply to Linda:

    Linda, I totally understand your dilemma. I have fallen into EVERYTHING education- and employment-wise. I had no idea what I wanted to do when I was young... well ok, I wanted to be an Apache Helicopter pilot but I have dyscalculia so I was tested by the RAF and found to be capable enough to carry the apache helicopter mechanic's toolbox. I though I'd quite like to be a Top Gear presenter so did journalism at college, as only local news or fashion mag jobs were available within Scotland, I became a security guard while I thought about what I wanted to do. My brother's girlfriend was doing marine biology at Uni... I LOVE sharks... off I went to get my BSc in Applied Marine Biology - in plankton and seaweeds. All the while doing various jobs such as: bike technician, waitress, car-goffer for distribution (see the lorries with the cars on them? I went and others and got one of those cars to put on the lorry), and being a call centre operative for a national utility provider. I moved to England to be with long-distance boyfriend of 5 years and fell into taxing those cars from earlier, then took my bosses job, got made redundant and followed my boss to her new job. Did a great stint as a medical secretary, my degree was finally useful. Then I discovered the very weird and wonderful world of patents where my education and interests are definitely useful. ~7 years later with 2 years of lending a hand with basic HR personnel duties I've found that I really like that sort of thing. I have just started my CIPD course. Here's hoping my many-feathered cap is as useful to an employer as I think it is - along with the big head it sits upon.

    So far, I'm 3 days (p/t online) into the course and it's enthralling!
    Linda, how about taking a cheap entry level Bookkeeping course? If it doesn't float your boat, you have at least a new thing to put on your cv, alongside an understanding of the trials and tribulations of the finance dept?

    In answer to the original question, I would love to reboot from 2nd year at secondary school, but only if I get to keep my husband.