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

Steve Bridger

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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? 

  • Steve Bridger

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    Community Manager

    9 Jan, 2018 11:43

    In reply to Julie Dix:

    What a journey, Julie. Three cheers for L & D :)
  • Hi Steve
    If I had my time over again, I would decide to go into HR. I started in general secretarial roles and gradually took on office management type roles which led over 25 years ago to a role in HR, starting off as an Advisor and then working my way up to more and more senior roles. Interestingly enough, following a re-evaluation of my life in 2016, I decided to take a step back in late 2016 and have moved back into a lower graded role but which gives me full time exposure to the employee relations aspect of HR which has always been a real interest of mine.

    For me, HR in all its forms brings challenges, irritations (my language at times when faced with certain challenges can be choice), fun (you have got to laugh at some of the ever more inventive excuses I have heard from individuals as to why they could not comply with a policy or procedure or instruction).

    I can honestly say I would do it all over again.
  • Having now passed the State retirement age and left employment to project-manage the re-development of my house (something I would not have had the time to do whilst working full-time!) I have reflected on my career.
    I was "flattered" into HR when head-hunted internally by the then Group HR Director after 20 years in operations management who suggested I would be able to help him achieve Group HR objectives.
    It is now almost 20 years since I made this move and although I became an HR Director, Head of HR and an HR Manager in various organisations I am not sure this was the right move for me!
    We talk glibly about HR "earning" a seat at the top table, influencing business management team decisions and making the HR function integral to the success of the Business. Really!
    I might have been influential in the Business had I remained in my General Management role and certainly been much better rewarded for my efforts!
    However now as a Fellow of the CIPD, a qualified Employment Law paralegal and Member of the CMI I want to take my knowledge back to our profession to help the profession achieve its stated objectives and work with less-experienced managers to help them achieve their business objectives.
    During my career in HR I recruited HR professionals through agencies and direct and always believed unsuccessful candidates should be treated with respect and dignity. I should have asked agencies to send me copies of their communication with candidates in order to ensure this was the case but took it as read their view would be the same as mine.
    Having now sent my cv in its various forms to agencies following role alerts I am disappointed that replies are either non-existent or robotic in their format.
    I am not desperate to return to work and my confidence that returning to my chosen profession would really be helpful is diminished.
    Do I regret my time in HR? I have met some excellent HR professionals and have been privileged to see several take up senior roles especially when I have left and my succession planning has been effective.
    Knowing what I know now back then would I have accepted the head-hunt? No.
    My final thought is why we created the Business Partner title? Surely all employees are business partners. Why is does HR feel special?
  • Steve Bridger

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    Community Manager

    24 Aug, 2018 12:49

    In reply to Mark Browning:

    Thanks for sharing your perspective, Mark. Everyone will have their own very personal 'take' for sure... especially when reflecting on a long career.

    As an aside... as a non-practitioner, it took me a while to understand what a Business Partner role might entail.
  • As someone who is relatively junior in HR (7 year experience) I think if I knew what I know now I would definitely go into HR...but I might go into it with a bit more assertion!

    The more I learn about HR the more fascinating I find it, especially having completed my qualifications. Learning about the theory of various areas such as reward management, employee engagement...and then trying to complete the challenge of applying those to my company, can be really personally rewarding!

    I'm lucky in that I have worked in my current organisation for 7.5 years and they have 100% supported my learning and development, and while I'm not the most confident of people, I really believe HR makes a difference...and I'll fight to make it happen if I need to.
  • My main regret is not making the move into HR sooner. I became a pub manager at 20 after dropping out of university (goodness knows why I went in the first place - I had no interest in continuing to learn at the time) and stayed in that job for nearly 7 years.

    I was lucky to get into HR through a series of temp jobs, first as an admin for a recruitment company, then as an admin in training records at the Co-op and finally I managed to get a permanent HR admin role for a paper manufacturer who paid for me to do my CPP. In rather mercenary fashion I repaid their generosity by upping and leaving them the minute I got my certificate to work for my current employer, originally as an advisor.

    I've learned so much where I am - not only did they pay for me to do my L7 but as a large retail company I do get to be involved in everything. I have to admit to wondering if I would have made a good employment law solicitor - it's definitely the part of my job that I enjoy the most

    I sometimes worry that I'm now stuck in my current company - I've been here 10 years and have been tempted to leave a couple of times but have ended up being promoted and so have stayed. Having just returned from maternity leave I'm less inclined to jump ship and give up the protection and benefits that 10 years service gives me.

    Sometimes i hanker after a less pressured role, one where I don't have to have all of the answers, all of the time and straight away! Then I realise I'd be bored if I wasn't challenged - even if it does get a bit stressful sometimes.

    Having this community is invaluable though and in particular I've received some great advice from David, Peter and Keith to name but a few, both directly and indirectly through reading their advice to others. Thanks guys
  • Steve Bridger

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    Community Manager

    24 Aug, 2018 16:37

    In reply to Emma:

    Great to hear, Emma. Tagging , .

    300+ posts is not to shabby a contribution either. Thank you!

    I can never seem to @mention Peter.

  • Steve Bridger

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    Community Manager

    24 Aug, 2018 16:40

    In reply to Rachel:

    ... you've been a valuable member of this Community for almost 6 or those 7 years :)
  • In reply to Mark Browning:

    My final thought on this is whether I would have been able to make a greater contribution to the worplace in general had I not entered the world of HR. Guess I will never know!
  • Oo I missed this thread first time around.

    At school I had no idea what career I wanted to do. I felt torn between 'something to do with computers' and my enjoyment of history, but after dropping Maths I found myself struggling to find a suitable IT-related degree which did not require A-Level Maths, so I opted for History at uni instead.

    Quickly found out I hated my degree, but was too scared to drop out or change subjects, so stuck it out, diverting a lot of my effort and attention to my part-time jobs and finding a grad job at the end of it all.

    I ended up taking a graduate job in a global consulting firm (Accenture) and expected to specialise in IT/business analysis, but found myself on my first client project doing HR, internal communications and L&D work.

    Personal circumstances got in the way as I become seriously unwell and spent a couple of years in and out of hospital and off sick from work. During my return to work, I ended up working internally on HR/L&D projects and when I later returned to IT project management client-facing work I found I missed my HR experience and decided that's what I wanted to specialise in. I signed up for my HR master's degree and left consulting soon afterwards. A series of specialist roles followed and I'm now in a senior HR generalist role, in the Falkland Islands.

    Would I do it all differently? I don't know. I suspect I would have chosen a different degree and likely ended up on a very different path, but I have no regrets about where I have ended up. I would have preferred not to have got sick, but I have a feeling the people elements of management would have become a key part of my consulting career regardless of whether that had happened or not. 

    Funnily enough, before I was moving down here, I found an old careers report I'd received in Year 10 at school and right at the top of my suggested strengths and career paths was 'personnel management' along with 'management consultant'. I don't remember paying much attention at the time, had no idea what either of those roles meant in practice and I believe I thought I was destined for one of the other suggestions (teaching), but this report was obviously a lot more accurate than I'd realised, as I ended up in both 'personnel' and management consulting'. Teaching has also been a feature, with the amount of L&D work I've done, but I don't think I had anticipated it would be directed at adults.

  • Steve Bridger

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    Community Manager

    28 Aug, 2018 10:14

    In reply to Lesley:

    Thanks for sharing your story, . I do love this thread... and this Community - which is the people after all, not the platform.
  • In reply to Steve Bridger:

    Welcome back from your holidays. The sudden flurry of notifications this morning warned me you were back! ;)