Do I Want To Work In HR There?

Interesting read here about the questions you should ask before joining a start-up. Having 3+ start-ups under my belt, I can tell you I agree with most of the advice; however, the question I probably should have asked about those start-ups AND F500s was “Do I want to work in HR there?

How do you know if you’re going to a better HR shop when you consider changing jobs?  It’s a question I get asked a lot, so here’s the gist of my advice:

1. Is it the right next move for your career?

This doesn’t always translate as bigger scope, new title or more money.  It could be a lateral move from a domestic-only into a global organization. Or moving from a #3 in a mid-sized organization to a #1 in a small company.  Or from a #1 in a small company to a division head in a multinational.

The point being: Is it right for YOUR career?  Some HR folks would never work for a non-branded company.  Others could care less as long as they can stay 5 years and move within the organization multiple times.

2. Is your preference for a maintenance role or crazy growth mode?

Most everyone will proudly tout they are not a “maintainer.”  Give me fast pace and high growth!  That’s where HR is most exciting!  That can definitely be the case, as long as you’re good with 60+ hour weeks and never really taking time-off.

Not everyone is cut out for crazy growth and it’s ok to say, “I’d like to be able to build upon current infrastructure from a continuous improvement standpoint, but I don’t need to constantly be reinventing the HR wheel.”

3. Do you care where HR reports?

For many, this is a non-negotiable. If the top HR gal/guy isn’t a direct to the CEO, talk to the hand.

While I definitely understand this sentiment, and ususally agree with it, it’s not advisable to take a hardline stance on this qualifier.  In some organizations, the CEO is a figure-head and it’s the President or COO that has all the power.  Or, the CEO is a dead-man walking and the COO or CFO is waiting in the succession box.

Before you jockey for position on reporting relationships, make sure you do some due diligence on the reality of influence.

4. Does what you hear align with what you experience?

This is one of the best calibrators for joining an organization—and a HR team.  What are you hearing from external sources, the internal or external recruiter, the hiring manager and your gut?  Check that with your initial impressions, experiences during the interview and post-interview follow-up.

Now it’s time to pull out your B.S. monitor!  Remember, a recruiter’s/hiring manager’s role on some level is to woo you.  If there is more “selling” going on than “assessing,” you need to pause and evaluate if you are really that awesome—or are they acting too desperate?  OR, if you had a crappy experience based on the recruiter, ask if he/she is representative of the culture or just someone you need to fire once you start?

There are clearly many other questions you should be asking/evaluating as you make an HR shop move. Ultimately, it comes down to does this move make sense for what you want to do professionally and is there alignment with your personal goals, as well?

Or in other words, don’t let this be you:

Peter Gibbons:  So I was sitting in my cubicle today, and I realized, ever since I started working, every single day of my life has been worse than the day before it.  So that means that every single day that you see me, that’s the worst day of my life.

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