Should I switch into a career in human resources?
September 10, 2006 8:01 PM   Subscribe

Should I switch into a career in human resources?

I currently work in public relations and I'm pretty tired of it. I have always wanted to move to a new place every five years or so, and I have a hard time finding open positions in other cities for my particular speciality in PR. However, I notice that in every city I would like to move to (Indianapolis, Dallas, St. Louis, Chicago, etc), you can generally count on there being an open HR generalist position (my data was culled from Craigslist and Hotjobs). So I thought I'd just get my master's in human resources management and get on with it. Plus, it pays better than PR.

Am I wrong? What fields are best for people who would like to pick up and move every few years?
posted by onepapertiger to Work & Money (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Just my two cents, but I think there are always open HR positions because HR people are batshit crazy. Take an informal survey of anyone you know who has to deal with an HR department on a regular basis, and I suspect they'll agree.
posted by mabelstreet at 8:33 PM on September 10, 2006 [3 favorites]

It's true that there are always jobs for HR, but when the crap hits the fan it's usually HR and training that get axed first.

Insanity is not 100% prevalent, in my experience, whereas malevolence seems to be.

If you're okay getting into a position where your real responsibility isn't so much to help the employees, but to protect your employer from the employees... sure.
posted by FlamingBore at 8:49 PM on September 10, 2006

Oh and for what it's worth... if you really want to move every few years consider setting out your own shingle. PR is exactly the kind of work you can do from just about anywhere you have a phone and a net connection. Build up a client base and make sure you work hard to keep the people you pick up along the way happy. With every new city you go to your client base should grow.
posted by FlamingBore at 8:51 PM on September 10, 2006

Would you be interested in becoming a recruiter who specializes in PR? I would think this would combine your interests.
posted by acoutu at 9:06 PM on September 10, 2006

A tidbit about how HR can work (at its worst):

HR manager holds a management training session. Asks the following question: If one of your employees comes to you and said she was in the midst of ending a messy relationship with an abusive spouse, what should you do?

Managers all say to be kind to employee, let her know she can ask for help any time she needs it, inform her of company's mental health resources, etc.

HR manager tells them they're all wrong. What they should do, HR person says, is find a reason to fire the employee and do so as soon as possible.

Why? Because if the angry/abusive ex hunts his girlfriend down at the office, it becomes a violence in the workplace issue and the company could be liable.

Just remember when considering HR that your real job is to cover the company's ass, not to help the employees.
posted by brina at 9:29 PM on September 10, 2006

brina is correct. The role of HR is to support the business and not be an employee advocate group. If you want to belong to an organisation that advocates for employees, then join a union. I found it a good rule of thumb that those that pay your salary are generally those whose interests you should represent.

If on the other hand you want a long term, challenging career that can make a real difference to both organsiations and employees, then a career in HR is for you. And, yes, I am an HR Manager by profession.
posted by vac2003 at 1:17 AM on September 11, 2006

I'm the head of HR for a fairly large privately held company, and though lots of people hate and or/disrespect our field, it's a very rewarding profession.
vac2003 has it right. I have openings on my team right now, today, that have been unfilled for months because so many people who are new to the field really want to be an employee advocate or want to be the Corporate Cop, neither of which is likely to happen under my watch. I'm always looking for smart, hard-working professionals who truly understand the business we're in, and how to attract, train, communicate with, and retain great people who fit our culture.
HR is notoriously difficult to break into from outside a company, since it's such a senstive role. People would much rather move someone they already trust into the generalist role and then train them, than bring in someone from outside the company who may not share the company values or communication style. You may have better luck going for a training role or even a company communications job.
If you want more info, just contact me from my profile.
posted by pomegranate at 6:32 AM on September 11, 2006 [1 favorite]

I'd observe that you've really been all over the map with career questions - in the last 2 months you've asked questions indicating you're thinking about counselling, social work, teaching and education-related fields, now HR. Have you considered working with a professional career coach or engaging in some kind of formal process of searching for what sort of work you might find most fulfilling?
posted by nanojath at 11:41 PM on September 12, 2006

Response by poster: Talked to a coach who said I should consider all three. And I have.

I’m no longer considering social work (too expensive of a degree and it’s emotionally draining) or teaching (emotionally draining to be around kids all day). Social work and teaching don’t afford a super professional environment, which is ultimately what I think I’d do best in.

Anyway, I paid my five dollars to quiz people on what they know, right?
posted by onepapertiger at 10:41 AM on September 26, 2006

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