… the HR Minion. Because even minions have opinions. And giggles.

What qualities make HR a good fit for me?

Yesterday, I got an email from a reader (I have readers! *Squeee!!*) who wanted to know what made HR a good fit for me and how I knew it was something I wanted to do. Good questions that make me nostalgic of the good old days, way back to the year 2001. There I was, a junior in college, with bright eyes and full of hope for the future. NOT! I’m a little to cynical for that, even then, and that leads me into my topic. Here are some of my traits that make HR a good fit for me:

1. Cynicism – I tend to be a cynical/pragmatic person. When you are dealing with people and their problems, a little cynicism will carry you far. HR requires you to be able to deal with liars, cheats, harassers, and some unpleasant workplace problems. If you aren’t already a little cynical it might be too much for you.

2. Empathy – At the same time, you have to be able to relate to people. You need to be empathetic to their problems, someone they feel they can talk to, and as a resource when the times are bad. I’ve always been the type of person people tell their life stories to (even when I would prefer they didn’t. I’ve heard some messed up stuff man.)

3. Manipulative – I mean this is the nicest and most professional way possible. Being in HR means that you have negotiate between opposing forces and that requires ninja like precision in your manipulation skills. As an HR Pro you are often caught between the interests of the employee, the interests of the company, the interests of the clients, etc. How well you maintain and manipulate those interests so that everyone is satisfied can be a challenge. But I enjoy challenges.

4. Organized – I love being organized. It’s my high internal locus of control personality. When you have to staff 5 positions, arrange an employee appreciation event, handle employee relations issues, and conduct new hire orientation, all at the same time, you quickly learn the value of organization.

5. High Tolerance for Ambiguity – In HR you deal with a lot of gray. Few things are strictly black or white. Few things follow the employee handbook word for word. If they did, you wouldn’t be needed. This means you need to be comfortable with not knowing, comfortable skirting tough consequences, and willing to make a decision despite all of that.

6. Seeing the trees, the forest, everything in between and beyond – One of the best things I learned while in Debate in high school, was to see an issue from multiple angles and somehow reconciling them. Another useful skill was learning how to think strategically about an issue and how to overcome or utilize a weakness. HR requires a strategic focus if it is to be anything more than an administrative function.

7. Public Speaking – Despite being the worst nightmare for most people, I love public speaking. Years of debate, speech, theatre, and serving as a college orientation leader will do that to you. In this job, you never know when you might be asked to step up and talk to an audience. It’s one of my favorite things to do.

8. Thinking on your feet – I’m quick on my feet and able to BS through a lot of situations. But I can only do this because I prepare, plan, and learn as much as I can. HR requires you to make quick decisions at times and you have to be ready.

All in all, I never “knew” that HR was something I wanted to do. I thought it might be a good fit and took a chance. I might not have stayed with it. I was in a bad HR job once and it almost made me leave the field altogether. I’m glad I didn’t then, because I love what I am doing now. So, now you know a lot more about me. But I want to hear from you. What are the qualities that make HR a good fit for you, my dear readers?

And so, I end another post about me. Am I starting to get a big head? Maybe. Do you care? Probably not, as long as I keep bringing the funny. After all, I’m all about the funny.

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8 Responses | Add your Own

  • 1 Mark Stelzner :

    Great post Minion. Obviously a rowdy sense of humor and flair for the dramatic doesn’t hurt either. Some of the most hilarious people I know are in HR and as Laurie pointed out from the SHRM conference, they like to party, tell non-PC jokes and get their groove on. I also think that HR people are survivors, many having to fire themselves as the last soldier standing and then turn out the lights on the way out.

  • 2 HR Minion :

    Being a survivor is very true. It’s hard to remain professional during layoffs if you know you are done as well.

    I also thought of an addition to my list: Being Assertive – you need to be able to stand your ground, handle confrontations, and not bow under pressure. I am not shy when it comes to confrontation. 🙂

  • 3 MsPinkSlip :

    Your list is perfect. While there are many people in HR who don’t have this combination of skills but the good ones do.

  • 4 HR Minion :

    Aww, Ms. Pink Slip you are making me blush. 🙂

  • 5 Jessica Lee :

    good post… i’d also add that being a loner, or being OK with being a loner is important as HR is often an island.

  • 6 HR Minion :

    Oh yes, we are the lone wolves of the office. Dangerous and yet majestic. Steadfast against the forces of bad management practices and bad coffee.

    I’m such a dork. But I do agree Jessica. As other bloggers have pointed out before, it’s hard to be friends with people outside of HR so being a loner helps.

  • 7 HR Wench :

    I likes it! I wrote about how I believe I developed “the temperament” for HR a bit ago a bit ago

  • 8 HR Minion :

    Wench – that was a fun post. It did speak a great deal to why HR fits your skill set. 🙂