My poor experience in HR

Hi, I was just wondering for some personal advice around my career in HR. I have wanted to work in HR my whole life and I have accomplished so much on my journey to HR, including achieving my level 7 at age 24 and achieving chartered status the same year. I have held two mid-senior roles within HR both of which had ended in redundancies that weren’t completed correctly. I have also worked in some toxic environments and to cut a long story short I have never been treated so poorly than I have whilst working within HR. I am really passionate about HR, I really want to make a positive difference to everyone at work (why not, we spend a lot of our lives at work!) I have been interviewing for roles for around 6 weeks now, I have walked into interviews and been told I am really competent HR professional and they know I could do the job. However I haven’t been successful in getting roles at present for the following reasons: -It’s a step down or the role is too small - There is no specific feedback we just felt the other candidate had the edge over you but your interview was really strong. - Or it wasn’t a right fit and the role has gone back out to advert I understand as HRP’s we have to be resilient, but at the moment I feel like I’m falling out of love with HR. Has anyone else been through this and can offer me some tips to help me stay resilient? I just feel at the moment I’ve wasted a lot of my time and energy in a career that doesn’t respect me! Thanks in Advance!

  • Hi Luke,
    Sorry to hear that. My advice is to move into more technical roles in HR: eg HRIS related, HR Systems admin, HR Transformation (digital). There is a lack of professionals with this background and you can get into another pathway, more IT driven.
  • It’s a tough market. I would say however that six weeks is not a very long time to be interviewing. If the same thing is happening after three months I would agree.

    The feedback is either helpful and genuine. Or equally likely simply to close the conversation down and move on. I wouldn’t personally put too much store on it.

    I am sorry you have been made redundant twice and from your previous post also been furloughed. HR isn’t immune to the economic fallout of Covid and other factors.

    Could I ask you a possibly harsh question ? It’s designed to help. You say you have achieved so much in a short career. Well actually what have you achieved? Can you articulate it and show why a recruiter should be interested? I ask because immediately following that statement you list L7 by a certain age and Chartered status. Both are great but do what? How do they help a potential employer? If someone tells me they have achieved a lot in HR ( or wherever) I want to know how they have moved the business forward. So it’s possibly you could recast your answers to show the business not personal benefits.

    On your other point I would take heart. Whilst there are toxic HR teams they are few and far between. Most HR teams are friendly supportive and great places to work.

    So if HR is your life long goal then keep at it. It’s worth it in the end. Good luck.
  • In reply to Keith:

    I think a fitting example of the positive and supportive HR community (and to bump your post up for more views) are these forums. HR colleagues at all levels give their time freely and without reward to support other colleagues. The level of professional support and free advice from total strangers shows, for me, what a warm professional and supportive environment HR normally is.
  • Hi Luke,

    Two phrases within your post really stuck out to me: your desire to 'make a positive difference to everyone at work' and that you'd 'wasted a lot of your time and energy'. Put aside the qualifications and the roles that you've done and have a think about times where you have made a positive difference at work. Even small wins count - a manager who never used to spend time talking to their team or sorting out someone's pay issue or advising a leader on who should go in a redundancy pool to ensure that it's fair for those included. While you might not know about it and the people involved might not have necessarily known about your influence in these situations, it does matter. These achievements might be even more meaningful if you've been working in a tough environment too.

    Resilience is tricky, particularly after 16 months of a pandemic and redundancy can be a real knock even if you see it coming. Cut yourself a little slack - six weeks isn't too long to job hunt. The market is picking up - be open minded as to where you look and what you look for (perhaps an interim role would work for now) and think about what practical achievements you can bring to a new employer.

    Good luck.
  • I would just say that I think Keith's advice here is spot on.

    There are 2 issues here, both exacerbated by the challenges of covid. I think, firstly, you have been unfortunate in terms of the HR cultures you have been exposed to, maybe you might benefit from looking at a different sector?, but as Keith mentioned it's not all like this and then secondly your recruitment experience.

    It's really tough out there at the moment and unfortunately the reality is, you are unlikely to land the first job you apply for. You have to kiss a few frogs along the way. I'm afraid resilience does play a big part in any job search journey but remember to be kind to yourself along the way, and remember the context we are living in at the moment, these are unprecedented times (sorry to use that word again!). Try not to beat yourself up too much, if anything you have to work a little harder on things due to all these environmental factors working against us.

    When applying for a role, whilst you might think you are a close match, but is your CV really evidencing the same story? Does your CV fully reflect ALL the relevant EXPERIENCE and SUCCESS STORIES you have, particularly in relation to the job adverts key requirements? Do you demonstrate everything you have in your CV, or are you relying on an element of assumptions? (Assumptions are the most dangerous thing in recruitment - and it occurs all the time, at all stages, take the guesswork out of your CV and tell a better story).

    It's easy for a CV to focus more on tasks and less on the successful contribution you made in the workplace - remember to evidence all the useful detail in your CV - its this type of content that frames the interviewer's mindset about you, before you have ever met and engineers positive interview discussion from the off, rather than having to dig around to draw out the sizzle.

    Hang on in there and ride the storm, you have given so much to HR would be a shame to take a u-turn now :-)

    Hope that helps.
  • Steve Bridger

    | 0 Posts

    Community Manager

    26 Jul, 2021 10:58

    Hi Luke... firstly, I salute you for sharing your experiences with us. I think you're receiving some fabulous advice here... and this is what this Community is for.
  • Hi Luke
    Sorry to hear you have been having such a tough time. To add to the excellent advice from colleagues, I would suggest at interview focussing more on what you have achieved for your previous employers, rather than success in exams etc. Whilst qualifications etc are nice to have, when we're recruiting, many of us tend to be more interested in candidate's track records.
    At interview, I'd be focussing very much on what you bring to the company, rather than where you want your career to go.
    I hope you find a job that you love soon - I have been in HR for 13 years this year, all of it in the NHS, working in several different Trusts and across all functional areas and, for the most part, it's been very fulfilling
  • Luke, thank you for posting. I'm sure your experience and the thoughts and shares below, will help anyone who might be reading and wondering if this career is for them too.

    Lots of great advice. I hope the feedback you're getting will help you land the best job. It is a tough market, competition is likely to be fierce and I imagine many employers might feel they can be extra choosey. Hopefully in the coming months, with persistence, on-going work and the ability to keep applying without losing too much heart, which is natural when we don't get the job, you will find a place where you feel you can grow, listen, learn from colleagues and keep developing.

    I'm an interim so I meet potential clients all the time and have noticed how hard it can be to, read a brief (or JD in your case) or advert or talk to the recruitment consultant and sometimes even the client and get enough of a feel for whether the opportunity is too big, small, right or best for me. It's an on-going learning experience and feedback helps.

    Finally, I'd add HR is like any profession. I've had many great experiences of working with fab colleagues and in great teams. It is also not immune to instances of poor behaviour, bad processes and general stuff that happens when humans come together. We are always capable of great things and the not so good things in life and work.
  • I was made redundant about five years ago, and found myself in a situation I hadn't had experience of before. First point is that it made me a better HR professional since - I have a better understanding of what it means and feels like to go through redundancy, which I've been able to use.

    Second point is that many agencies (in particular) had an apparent problem with the fact that I was immediately available. What I had felt would be a positive advantage came with a suspicion that was unwarranted. I started doing an interim role (in an entirely unrelated field), and suddenly I was applying for a job from a position of employment which seemed to change things in relation to interviews, agency contact and interest - and shortly had the role I'm still in now.

    I recognise that the situation we're in now is different and perhaps mine was anomalous, but for your own confidence and in case there's any resonance with my experience, I'd strongly suggest going after an interim role. You never know where they may lead.
  • In reply to Nina Waters:

    Hi Nina, so pleased you got a role following redundancy and you did that via a role that was, I guess FTC and then went perm.

    I'm an interim and posting as it can and is a career path of and in itself. Some people, like me, choose to leave a permanent job, set up a company and pursue an interim career. It's great that many people who are made redundant or try it and then go permanent again do, it happens and it's cool. It's also not the same as being a career interim. An interim is most likely to be senior and running their own business.

    I'd heartily recommend a temp to perm arrangement Luke and perhaps interim could be a choice or an option further into a successful HR career.

    I'm posting this as, with IR35, it would be fab for fellow HR professionals to differentiate the workforce in a way that helps the interim profession remain a valuable and accessible market option for the future.