A career in HR or L&D is like any great love story – it requires hard work, understanding and a whole lot of love to avoid it becoming a Bad Romance

It’s not easy beat being a HR or an L&D practitioner. Sometimes it suffers from an image problem – the former as ‘policy police’, the later being something that  “any one can do, that requires little skills… (and) it’s just the softer wing of HR” (an accusation I often hear levelled at teachers also – why does everyone player hate on educators?!). This in turn makes people question the time or respect the industry deserves.

And yet here I am (along with many others) , turning up for work everyday – in my case more than 5 years after making a conscious decision to get in to my long-term relationship with HR, in one form or another. So why bother? And if me and HR/L&D is the relationship, when are we going to settle down… ( my mother is getting worried)

Much like any relationship, your career will have its ups and downs and this is no different for those embarking on the road of HR or L&D. There will be times when you will be kicking yourself thinking “Why did I say that? Why didn’t I say that? Is everyone in the world working against me?!”

Love Experiences 01
You too can enjoy a career in HR, where during moments like this with a loved one you find yourself thinking: "Do I have enough time to sneak that paperwork in to payroll?". Image via Wikipedia

That feeling of paranoia about people’s motives and behaviours I think happens to many of us, and at times I felt that this was especially the case in HR, when livelihoods and careers were at stake which could lead to quite irrational thinking and actions (no doubt on my part as much as theirs).

Like HR love is not simple and can leave you vulnerable – it takes a bit of a leap of faith at times. The HR profession it truly considered the ‘people business’, and even with the most conventional individuals everyone still has the ability to me more unpredictable than you might ever give them credit for. You cannot fight this, it is just the reality of life.

If that did not make you vulnerable enough more often than not you might be asked to guide another party through a process or decision. You are the expert, hence you are expected  to take responsibility for advising your partners. Ever have a decision on a date about where to meet or whether you wanted to get dinner, catch a movie, etc., that you wanted to go really well, both for you and the other person? That can be a lot of pressure, right?

Now imagine having to do that everyday, but instead of going on to Toptable to get a review you are having to crawl over employment legislation to double, triple, quadruple check that you have not missed something that leaves your or your employer in a tight spot. Oh and by the way, that person you are guiding at the same time does not really care that you have the expertise and qualifications to advise them. They have a better idea of how to proceed, regardless of your warnings.

At least when someone offers to take you out on a date for fine dining at KFC you can reason with them or, if they refuse to listen, just leave them to their bargain bucket. No chance for HR or my fellow L&D peeps – you tend to be in for the long haul with many managers, whether they are good, bad or just plain incompetent.

Sign showing the World's first KFC.
Nice one casanova - I'm worth a whopper at least Image via Wikipedia

All sounding a bit Heart Break Hotel for a love themed/Valentines day inspired post? True, but here is the good news and what originally got me going when I first saw that this Carnival of HR was on love: if you are looking for a more exciting and rewarding job you might struggle to beat this.

Sure, it pushes you to the limit and at times can be extremely hard work, but think about it – what job isn’t?

Also think about those relationships that feel like hard work – are they really for you in the first place? Did you stick with them? Was it worth it? Perhaps it really was a case of “It’s not you, it’s me” and you moved on. Perhaps you need to go on some career speed dating – have a little look around and see if you can find something that is more to your liking.

But if you do settle down with a career in HR or L&D you know that you can be rewarded by being the conscience and counsel that your managers rely on; the face of reasoning in a storm of heightened tensions. What bigger compliment would you want than that?

After roving around a bit I have finally ‘settled’ so to speak in to a role in L&D – granted, bit of a leap from day-to-day HR and some of the stuff I have talked about in this post, but I know I would not be able to as effective in my current role without those past false career dawns and experiences.

So if you are hesitant about the segment of HR you are in or HR in general being the long-term platform for your career, relax. Like any misfiring courtship you will learn something from the process that you can take with you. Remember – unpredictability in your professional and personal life can bring a bit of excitement out when you least expect it, just like any worthwhile romance.


2 thoughts on “A career in HR or L&D is like any great love story – it requires hard work, understanding and a whole lot of love to avoid it becoming a Bad Romance

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