Thinking about a role or career in HR? If you’re not maybe you should be! Many people who work in Human Resouces never majored in Human Resources in college, but instead, come from other disciplines or career tracks. A degree in HR is great, but there are lots of little corners in this field where different skills and experience can be beneficial. Still, even amidst the diversity of experience in the HR profession, there are some commonalities in the people who are most likely to thrive there.
The work of HR is so broad that many different kinds of people could conceivably find a place to settle in. From administering retirement plans to talent acquisition and management to mediating disputes, there are so many areas of HR I would have a hard time listing them all here. These are broad strokes people. BROAD STROKES! However, keep reading if you are wondering if a career in HR is for you.
A Career in HR Might be a Good Fit for you if…
You’ve considered these other fields
If you are intrigued by the law, you might be surprised to find a career in HR very rewarding. If you don’t mind the fine print and think you’d enjoy reading and interpreting laws, regulations, guidelines, etc. then HR is a great field to enter. Risk management and control go beyond compliance, (which is important) but also requires the ability and willingness to be proactive in getting out in front of issues. HR departments have a major role to play in upholding an organization’s commitment to legal and ethical decision-making.
2. Social Work/Psychology
HR is a great place for people wanting to work for the good of others. I often think of HR as being the intermediary between the organization and its employees. If you enjoy supporting and advocating for people, figuring out what makes them tick, problem-solving and have the ability to keep things confidential you will find a career in HR to be very rewarding. Employee relations, interviewing, employer branding, conflict resolution, engagement, and retention are a few areas of HR that tend to interest this group.
3. Social Justice/Community Organizing
People who have an interest in social justice often (rightly) view organizations as key figures in creating a more just and equitable world. Diversity and Inclusion efforts have never been more important or in-the-spotlight than right now. From a moral, legal, and business perspective, companies are increasingly mandated to create space for employees to bring their whole selves to work.
That can look a whole lot of ways in HR: anti-racism, gender equality, disability and neurodiversity inclusion, and LGBTQ acceptance. If you are comfortable speaking truth to power, then HR is a field where you might thrive.
“When people go to work, they shouldn’t have to leave their hearts at home.”Betty Bender
4. Finance/Administration or IT
HR often works hand-in-hand with Finance. In fact, many times these functions integrate into one department. Think about HR as a career if you have a knack for metrics, data interpretation, and aren’t afraid of pushing a computer program around. There will always be people who need to run payroll, design compensation systems and evaluate and choose benefit offerings. Frankly, the technical aspects of people management can be a little mind-boggling. Someone with an eye for detail and comfort with numbers and technology is a great asset to any HR department.
You are a good communicator
Organizations need HR people who are above-average communicators. Written communication is important because, well…you will likely be doing some writing! Whether it’s drafting policies and procedures, handbooks, training material, company communication, emails (lots of emails), it’s incredibly important to be comfortable writing in an institutional and individual voice.
Verbal communication is just as if not more important than written communication. HR professionals partner with people all across an organization—and many times outside the organization. Indeed, the ability to be clear, firm, compassionate, and diplomatic will be paramount when faced with tough conversations.
You like people
I’m always curious when I encounter another HR professional. I love learning what corner or niche they occupy and finding out what they love about their job. The titles and tasks often look so different from one place to the next, but the glue that holds it all together is people.
Clearly, you don’t have to be a raging extravert to thrive in a career in HR, but you do need to like people. Yes, dealing with complaints and conflicts is difficult, and your role might necessitate laying people off or firing them. It’s not fun telling an applicant “no” when they’ve applied for a job. It’s not fun telling someone that his/her body odor has become an issue to their coworkers. Still, the HR person who performs these activities without compassion or empathy is not someone who will find this career path rewarding. It may not be stated explicitly in the job description, but organizations want to hire people who can connect with others.
“Train people well enough so they can leave. Treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”Sir Richard Branson
You want a job where you can live out your Christian values
Speaking as a person of faith myself (of the Anabaptist-Christian persuasion) HR has become a place where I see my faith lived out in very important and meaningful ways.
I often think of the word shalom as a career aspiration. Shalom is a Hebrew word that means “peace” and it’s often used as a greeting. However, a fuller understanding of the word reveals a definition that is more like peace on steroids.
Shalom is not just the absence of hostility, but the presence of serenity, wholeness, health, and prosperity. Shalom existed in the Garden of Eden before sin entered the picture. It’s what we as believers now have access to because of Christ’s death and resurrection: living in right relationship with God and humanity.
What is the good work you are called to do?
I truly believe the field of Human Resources can be a place where Christians can create the opportunity for God’s Shalom to encompass the lives of individuals, teams, departments, organizations, structures, and systems. Of course, not every HR person or department lives into this calling, but the potential is there.
HR professionals as Shalom-Creators live out this call in every facet of human resources such as inclusive hiring, fair treatment of employees, leadership training, coaching, aligning organizational goals with values, complying with state and federal laws, creating equitable compensation systems, and the list goes on. The cool thing about HR is seeing how organizations prosper when employees live into their gifts and callings.
“To win the marketplace, you must first win the workplace.”Doug Conant
I’m not saying HR is a great place to convert people because HR professionals must respect and advocate for those of different beliefs. I AM saying that in HR we have the opportunity and responsibility to promote and model what it means to live in right relationship.
Shalom is based in relationship. And right relationship means transparency, trust, love, and respect flowing in all directions. In the work of Human Resources, we advance the cause of shalom through right relationships between:
- Leadership and employees
- Organizations and the communities in which we live
To me, this is the call I’ve responded to and the meaning I’ve found on this particular career path. This is MY Career + Calling.
If you want to explore your Career + Calling visit my coaching page for more! I have a variety of coaching packages or I can tailor my services to your specific situation. I do one-on-one coaching with anyone who is looking to align their values, personality, and goals with their career choices.