Sunday, February 10, 2008

Human Resources, a career 1983-2008

I hereby declare the profession of Human Resources dead.

Fully realizing I am no authority on professions, careers and such, it seems pretty evident studying our local paper that HR is not in demand. Two jobs were listed. A search of the major online services like and Career Builder resulted in jobs open for sure, but mostly staffing recruiter and payroll positions, the employee relations, HR manager/director positions were sadly lacking. Good evidence too that the way to find a job is through online listings and not the old fashioned Sunday paper.

When I was searching for an HR job or contemplating leaving the one I had, I used to find 5-6 good ones in the paper and even more online. I don't think I would apply for a single one this time around.

HR was not what I always said I wanted to do when I grew up. I really wanted to be a Clinical Psychologist, even a Lawyer or the Conductor of the Boston Symphony. But like most careers we take on, I just kind of schlepped into it. I liked people, I wanted to be where the action was. I wanted to know the gossip, who was screwing who, who was getting fired. HR was a busy-body's wet dream of a job.

HR has always been the Rodney Dangerfield of business careers. "We are professionals!!! We are relevant!!!, Really!" That should be the slogan of the HR world. To be sure everyone knew HR was relevant, someone created a professional association and then devised a scheme to make money through certifying "HR Professionals". Most certified HR types I knew were not all that bright, but were good at memorizing factoids and regulations. Give them a real life scenario that involved real people, real world and politics and they would wither into the irrelevance they feared.

"What do you do? Hire and fire?", was the most asked question when I revealed my profession. That and deal with a multitude of legal and government regulations designed to confuzzle the most astute minds on the planet. HR was a perfect job for those wanting responsibility without authority; it was always our fault, even though we could do nothing about it.

Current trends, as I read the tea leaves, show HR is heading back into the glorified clerical position from whence it originated. Keeping files, doing the payroll, processing paperwork, tracking vacations and sick leave is the norm of the jobs I see open. Who is doing the rest, I do not know. Probably falling on the shoulders of the already over burdened manager, frightened that this Friday will be his last on the job.

No wonder corporate America is a mess.

As for me, my non HR job here at the Palace is hardly glamorous. A trained monkey could do it for the most part. But it is safer than most jobs I know, offers the opportunity for me to take a nap in the afternoon and puts a roof over my head. I for one would not trade that for any FMLA, HIPAA or any other alphabet soup issue that HR types face.


Anonymous said...

As one HR professional put it, "We are here to keep management happy. We don't care about you [the employees]"

Anonymous said...

Two things stand out in this post. First is the state of jobs in America: gone or withered away. Remember the late 90s when jobs were everywhere and salaries kept rising? And second, what professional organizations and certifications have done to many jobs. Whether you're a cosmetologist or a truck driver, it costs more money than ever to keep your "license to work." And most of those organizations handing out those paper credentials were only in it for the guaranteed cash in every state.