Did you fall into HR?

ID-100262238 Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici  FreeDigitalPhotos.netI have been in HR so long my first job actually predated the name of “human resources.” We called it Personnel Administration and SHRM was ASPA, the American Society for Personnel Administration. I remember watching the controversy around getting rid of a tried and true name to go to a name that recognized employees as “human” as opposed to just “personnel.” I did not originally plan to be in HR. In fact I didn’t plan on being in business. But my academic career took a couple of turns and I found myself working for a placement company. I spent several years dealing with personnel departments and decided I would rather be on that side of the phone. So one day I struck out and worked on getting a job as a Personnel Trainee. I was successful. But that was a short-term goal; I never “planned” on being in HR.

Apparently others had the same “no plan”

In a recent survey done by XpertHR they found that “most HR professionals (84.8%) did not begin their careers as human resource professionals. And more than half of the respondents felt that their reasons for entering the profession were heavily influenced by chance and external forces rather than an active desire to work in HR.” Only 22.9% thought it was an attractive career proposition. Only 11.3% were attracted to HR because it was a well-respected profession. Only 10% thought it offered good career progression and only 3.9% thought it was a well-paying profession. (I am not sure what those people were comparing it to.)

Reasons for getting into HR

The XpertHR  survey also asked people why they got into HR. There were some standard answers. The most disappointing reason was “because I wanted to work with people.” Thirty percent answered that question that way. Many of us veteran HR professionals will tell you that is a wrong reason. Many people thought HR offered either a good opportunity or was seen as a natural progression from where they were before. (I joke about that in my career given I had worked with monkeys and great apes.)

Some problems in River City

As you might have guess with many of the blogs and articles you read, not all is well with the profession. Forty percent of people currently in the profession would probably leave the profession; many of them citing a lack of respect by their bosses for the job or a lack of progression or opportunity. As you might imagine people who have been in HR for over 20 years are the ones more likely to stay in HR, but even 25% of them would consider leaving. If you look at younger groups the number balloons into the over 40% area, with 49% of incumbents who have been HR over 10 years. The industry sector makes a difference too, with 50% of HR people in manufacturing wanting out.

Is there any good news?

So reading these numbers may make you ask “Is there any good news about HR?” The answer is “yes.” Eight-one percent thought that HR is a true profession. The other good news is that HR professionals are a pretty well-educated bunch, “with 51.5% having a bachelor’s degree and 28.1% holding a doctoral or professional degree (a PhD, JD or DBA)” according to XpertHR. Nearly 60% hold some type of certification with the most common being PHR.

Need for repair

The fact that 40% of HR professionals would give up their HR careers to do something else indicates there is a need to do some repair on the profession. SHRM in its new certification is thinking they will be helping repair the profession. Time will tell. I think one of the best things we could do for the profession is to stop letting people “fall into HR.” There needs to be a harder barrier to admission. Perhaps a requirement that everyone entering has an HR degree? After all no one becomes a lawyer without a law degree.
What do you think the answer is?
If you would like to read the full XpertHR report you can find it HERE.
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

1 thought on “Did you fall into HR?”

  1. Mike, Great blog, but frightening at the same time. 40% would consider leaving HR. Wow! Personally, I wouldn’t do it. I’m in that 20 year group and I’m not qualified to do anything else at this point in my life. But, I can understand what drives people out of HR, and I think you and the survey hit the nail on the head. I’ve been in organizations that don’t value HR; it definitely has a negative impact on your level of passion for your career.
    I didn’t exactly “fall” into HR (it was also Personnel when I started), but it wasn’t my initial career choice. However, I am glad I did choose it as my professional, and will continue to stay in HR, even though the path has been bumpy at times.
    I’m disappointed when I meet someone who has had a bad experience with HR. It color’s their entire perception of the professional, which is unfortunate. I kind of agree with you on a higher standard or barrier to admission for this reason. Maybe it can filter out those who just fall into HR, versus those who are really committed to it. It just might reduce those bad HR experiences that I hear about.

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