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Advice for an HR Professional



Most people are familiar with the HR department in terms of their role in hiring new employees. But many may not know that HR professionals play a crucial role in keeping their existing employees happy and engaged. Let’s face it, keeping your employees happy is important to the success of any company. The better your team feels, the more productive they will be which ultimately leads to greater profits for your business.


One of my HR friends recently came across someone who was about to start a career in Human Resources and wanted to know how to approach this new role.


Why do you think someone would need this kind of advice. The reason is simple. A person stepping into a new role is confused and apprehensive and wants to know what it takes to be successful in that role and how they can avoid common pitfalls. They want specifics and hands-on experience from someone who has been there before, and done that (and hopefully succeeded).


Well, after listening to my friend I thought of penning down this article to help people who are new to the HR fraternity and are looking at little pieces of experienced advice. So I ran through my circle of HR professionals and asked them to share how they would guide this person inorder to make them excited and confident about their role, make them feel equipped to handle any issues and problems that may arise, as well as have a sense of pride in playing a crucial role in people and culture management.


Whether you are new to the HR department, or a seasoned professional, being in HR can be daunting. So here are some interesting and valuable points suggested by highly experienced HR professionals from all across the globe. These suggestions stem out from hard core experience in people management and should help you in getting started and helping you sail through as an HR professional:


Enter for the right reasons


Best advice is to enter the field for the right reason. I honestly enjoy taking care of my people. Understand that it’s Human Resources and at the end of the day we are all human. Take care of business but have compassion for the people because they are your number one asset!

Lucida Smith

Sr. Human Resource Analyst, Georgia


Be receptive to learning


You do NOT become an expert overnight. Even after years of experience you will still find yourself handling situations you have not seen before. So ask questions. Invest in your learning. Go to HR seminars and trainings. Personally speaking, that helped me a lot when I first started. I still have all the material from those classes and refer to it if needed.

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Be open to learning (not just from your leaders, but your employees). Get to know your organization and what it does. Always be kind (even when it is really tough). That is, be kind, but firm when you need to be.


Melinda Jhonson

HR Specialist, San Francisco


Always be aware as to what is their X factor


Being a Human Resource professional means you must work on people skills and bring the best of their potential. HR implies bettering human relations and always connecting the dots between various stakeholders. One advice for the people interested to build a career in HR is to always be aware as to what is their X factor and use the same to turn things around. At the same time have an open mind and remain receptive to learning because when you deal with these many people, every individual can teach you something and we learn from each other, all the time.


Reetika Arora

Assistant Manager – Human Resources, India


Have an open mind


Have an open mind, always listen to all sides of a story, ask and verify, don’t be judgmental. Some things are best required to be put in writing. Be discreet.


Learn your biases and keep them tucked away (everyone has them). Go into situations only to learn both sides, and always lead with mutual curiosity to both sides of a story.


Do not get emotionally invested. As much as you may want to ‘solve it all’, you just cannot. Have compassion but stick to facts and make all decisions based on facts and not feelings.

Robert J Robinson

Sr. Human Resource Business Partner, Australia


Emotional Intelligence is important


Exercise a very high level of emotional intelligence because some days you’ll want to sit in the middle of the floor and throw a full blown toddler tantrum or cry your heart out after dealing with some of the employee relations drama that will be hurled your way! Be prepared for such situations.

Melissa Reeves

Sr. Hr Executive, Greater Sydney Area


Mix with people, don’t stick to your desk


Don’t get stuck to your desk. The real work and value comes from building relationships. Socializing should be a part of your job role now. Just don’t get caught up in the drama. The tough part is not being friends on social media or hanging out after work. It’s a tough balance and every HR professional has a different risk tolerance here. I’d say start conservative and find yours.

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Learn how the business runs, how all the departments are connected and their greater purpose. Have fun!


Luiza Hay

HR Specialist, London


Be a Mentor & Coach


My advice would be “Feel blessed for being a Human Resource Professional”. You are responsible for changing people’s life by being their mentor and coach. Inspire them with positive communication, be tech-savvy and always listen to understand.

Sanjaykumar Vermaa

Founder – HR Dakksh, India


Many functional roles rolled into one


HR is an umbrella function like a Mother’s role in a family. This includes playing various functional roles blended into one basically to monitor, to negotiate, to control as well as be a sounding board.

This obviously requires an HR professional to be patient, empathetic, self-motivated and most importantly self-aware. Besides an HR professional to be a people’s person must develop a high level of emotional Intelligence.

Dr. Anju Chawla



Learning & networking is the key


My suggestion is to go in with the goal to learn as much about HR functions as you can ie, recruitment, classifications, salary administration, benefits, policy, LOA etc. Stay up to date on current, relevant topics. Subscribe to SHRM webinars and conferences.

Besides this, network, network, network. Get a mentor or a coach who can help you navigate your HR career path, and get you in the places that will get you recognized.


Judy Michael

HR Business Partner, USA


Do what’s right


Always be fair. You are the liaison between management and staff but you have to do what’s right for the company. Always do what’s right. Be honest, trustworthy and compassionate. Even if you disagree with something, keep your HR hat on and proceed with integrity.

Gain the respect of your staff and management. Be CONFIDENTIAL always! EE’s need to feel that you’re for them and that they can trust you.

I’ve been doing this for over 32 years. Some days can be exhausting but I wouldn’t trade being an HR Director for anything.


Sophie Robbins

HR Director, Florida


Document Everything


Document everything! If it’s not documented, it didn’t happen. Organization is the key. There will be a learning curve no matter what your prior experience is; trust the process and absorb as much as possible. I love working in Human Resources because things are constantly changing, there is always something new to learn.

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When I first started working in this field, someone advised me to never take the ‘human’ out of Human Resources and it has helped me ever since. Also, as an HR professional, be friendly but don’t make friends because you need to keep away from biases and favouritism. Our main role is to support the company and the employees.


James Andrew

VP Human Resources, Bellevue, Washington


You cannot fix things overnight, exercise patience

  • Use your sound judgement.
  • Always Investigate a query/matter before coming to a conclusion.
  • Be empathetic with employees but don’t let your emotions overpower your intelligence.
  • Stay professional. Keep the line drawn between yourself and employees, they are not your friends especially if you are responsible for Industrial Relations. You cannot be biased or become too friendly with the staff.
  • It’s high stress at times so work smart and take mental breaks when it becomes stressful.
  • You won’t be able to change the culture overnight, it takes times.
  • You may find a lot of flaws in the company that you may want to fix right away, but be very patient.
  • Determine what is the strategic plan for HR in your Company. Know your goals, objectives and KPIs before you start working on any projects.


Amy Clarke

Head, Human Resources, Leeds, England


You are not a super hero


My advice is, be a sponge – observe and listen. Continue to find the balance of what is best for the company, employees, and leaders. Develop a good organizational system. Get plenty of rest over the weekend. And always remember that you’re not a superhero.


Steve Tomsa, Boston

Sr. VP Human Resources, Leicester


To sum it up

You are a human resource professional which means that you can make an impact where it counts. While other business heads are responsible for their own domains, you are the custodian of not just the HR department but the entire organization, and that is powerful.


Keep the above suggestions in mind and keep exploring and paving your way. You aren’t alone. You have your entire team behind you.


Most important, you aren’t the first person to question your decision, we all do. What matters most is that you are here because YOU believed that YOU can do it.


Few names have been changed to preserve anonymity.


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