I am hoping that you can help. I start a new job on Monday as a HR Coordinator at a county government agency (100+ ee\'s at 5 locations). The agency boss is a second-term elected official who has been re-elected a third time to another post that starts in 17 months. I have never worked in HR before, but I have tons of business experience (mid-careerist), and I have a BSBA and a MHA. My supervisor is the Number 2 at the agency and has worked there for 39 years. She is going to train me in her former HR duties. What advice can you offer as I begin this new career? What are the pitfalls I should avoid? What should I be reading or studying? Thank you in advance. Signed, D.B.
From United States, Mobile
Can I ask a question?
You were interviewed, and obtained a job as HR Co-Ordinator. Yet you know nothing about HR??????
How does that work?
How do you get through an interview about a HR job, without demonstrating any knowledge what-so-ever of HR? Exactly what questions were you asked in your interview? Forgive me, but I am both flabbergasted by this, and curious.
Every day on CiteHR, there are numerous postings about high attrition rates, requests for ideas to keep staff happy, complaints about recruiting suitable staff etc etc.
If anyone in India (and elsewhere in the world) wonders why staffing and recruitment is so fraught with problems, then here is a perfect example of WHAT NOT TO DO.

From Australia, Melbourne
Hello D.B. On the outset, let me clarify that I'm based in Mumbai, India and may not be fully aware of the way of working in the U.S. As a side-note, your mention of county govt agency reminded me of parks and recreation.... :D
Jokes apart, as you are a mid-careerist, you maynot need any advice on how to manage change in ur current job. Nevertheless, I'd request you to keep an open and non-judgmental attitude while learning on this new job.

From India, Mumbai
Hello DB,
John has a perfectly valid query--guess you need to bring about some clarity about how, in the first place, were you hired for a position about which you know nothing.
Coming to your main query, you already have at least TWO Aspects going for you.
1] You have someone who is identified to train you on-the-job. If you go thru this Forum, you will be able to realize how fortunate you are in this aspect [many HR persons literally go mad with none to guide but having to bear the complete HR load--and that's where this Forum comes-in handy for them].
2] Your Trainer is number 2--so less of conflicting situations that you need to handle--meaning you can totally focus on your learning part.
But, first & foremost, you need to keep your mind TOTALLY OPEN to learn....and possibly de-learn/relearn some of what you already may know. Unless you inculcate this attitude, it wouldn't help even if the Topmost HR guy is there as your trainer--and IF you already have this trait, that would be Aspect# 3 going for you.
And, being a mid-career person maybe this doesn't need to be told--neverthless, it helps to keep in mind that you will need to be ready to work extra during the learning period.
And a last point: NEVER hesitate to make mistakes....since that's where one learns from.
All the Best.

From India, Hyderabad
Hi Guys, Sorry for bothering you all.Just have a query how can i post jobs in Cite.HR.Can anyone guide me. Regards, Sonya
From India, Bangalore
Aussiejohn, Thank you for your comments. From a short blurb on a thread, it may be challenging for a reader to gather enough information to understand the whole picture. There are many variables that go into a situation like this. So it may be best not to make assumptions about a person\'s background without learning more about the reasons that this decision was made. I never said that I didn\'t know anything about HR; I said that I had not worked in an HR position before. In fact, I do know a lot about HR. I mentioned that I am a mid-careerist, so that tells a reader that \"it\'s not my first rodeo\", so to speak. I am a former business owner, and I am highly experienced in all types of insurance, retirement and benefits plans. My education in business and health care administration meets or exceeds the requirements of the job description. I am leaving another government agency, so I have the government reporting and regulatory experience that they were looking for. My goal for this post is to glean insights from others, so that I don\'t make the same mistakes. I prefer to research and learn from others that are experienced so that I don\'t have to \"reinvent the wheel.\" Thank you again for your contribution to this thread. I am still interested to hear about your experiences and insights, so please elaborate on the answers to my questions in the original post. Every person has some original knowledge to offer, and I am always looking for that \"nugget\" in everyone I meet. Signed, D.B.
From United States, Mobile
Dear D B,

The first question that came to my mind on seeing this post was, "Why this new found interest?"

I sat down for a while to think, and this is what flashed through my mind...

The world has seen a lot of managers so far, and it also has a lot managers now, yet it is very difficult to pin-point the managers of the world and tell what makes them succeed, and what should they be having in common. If so what and how much in common, because, they employ vastly different styles and focus on different goals, to get the results they want.

Survival, therefore is the motivating force which perhaps a common factor for most. Yet few, in fact very few break away even from that and go forward, because they take more risks in their careers and their life too.

It's these people who take high risks that succeed most and go on to become leaded of their pack - often even end up become leaders like the Sam Waltons, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs etc.

They break away from a traditional mind-set, and all rules of conventional wisdom. They believe that a person can achieve anything he sets his mind to. They work just on their strengths, and they never ever try to overcome their weaknesses. They consistently disregard the Golden Rule. For them it's only Personal Excellence, which is perhaps the most important of all invisible and intangible assets that they acquired.

Coming back then to you and your query.

Firstly congratulations to you for risking a change mid-career and my best wishes to you for the very best in your new job.

You've said, "I am a former business owner, and I am highly experienced in all types of insurance, retirement and benefits plans. My education in business and health care administration meets or exceeds the requirements of the job description."

DB, the message and the tone suggests to me the amount of humility you have, I see that this in itself is a positive trait.

The other aspect is your openness in asking for help despite your experience, which suggests you are a good learner and you care for both, personal and professional development.

I say this from my own experience.

With all the humility I can summon - I have to state that even new comers I mean the ones who are trying to make a career also do not ask openly what you are asking for. They are either shy or they think they know it already. There is another dimension to this they might even think that they should be given all this without asking, meaning if we employ them it becomes our business to equip them for their future in all aspects. No investment from their side except the favor of their time, and that too unaccounted.

So you see there are a few distinct traits in you which are one's that can help you a great deal gong forward - your "simplicity," "attitude," "honesty" "initiative" "trust" etc. I've got to confess I do not know you before however, these are not assumptions, but things I can make out by your request and response.

Go on to achieving personal excellence in your business or industry requires life long dedication, therefore one suggestion to you would be to keep building your intellectual assets.

Since you haven't been specific about what you are looking for either HR experience or practice, it will be a little far stretched to imagine what pitfalls you might encounter, I would leave you now with just this information that this forum has "abundance of unbelievable intellectuals and talent" who are ever willing to offer help when wanted. The only hint I might throw at this point is that you ought to be "specific" about what you want to get information, advise or clarity on. You can be assured you will get more than you asked for in terms of quantity, quality and the variants.

My contact details are here below should you want to keep in touch.

From India, Hyderabad
DB, let me try and explain where I am coming from with this.

I am not disputing your experience, knowledge, career to date or anything like that. However, in your posting you ask for help from CiteHR members on HR matters. You also state that you have never worked in HR before, and the current incumbent is going to TRAIN you in how to do the job.

To me at least, those statements IMPLY that you do not have the necessary skills or experience to sit at that desk at 9am on Monday morning and start work on basic HR tasks in that job. I accept that you will need to be trained in specific policies relating to that agency, but there are common HR tasks that do not vary from organisation to organisation.

We discuss over and over again here on CiteHR, the mechanics of recruitment and selection, and you can refer back to my many postings on this subject. In this time pressured world we live in, one of the basic tenets of recruitment is to find people who have the necessary skills and experience to do the job. There are other variables of course, will they fit our culture, do they have initiative and drive to bring new ideas and new ways of working, are they trainable etc etc.

I think it is fair to say that managers are now very busy people. Many are working in pressured conditions as companies downsize and expect more work from less people. A lot of managers do not have time to train staff any more. They need people who can hit the ground running as soon as they complete their on-boarding in the new company.

Now, if I had been the manager at this agency you are joining, I would have a position description for the job of HR Co-ordinator, and I would also have a person specification for the job. The position description would state the various duties expected of the successful candidate. This might include, payroll, dealing with all types of leave, training co-ordination, performance plans, staff welfare, etc etc. I am not familiar with Indian HR, so I am just guessing here. But it is just examples for the purpose of the exercise.

I have not seen your CV, but if you applied for this position and I did not find any of those things listed in your CV, then I would not have even given you an interview. Why would I? You do not have the experience and skills I need.

If by some strange chance you did make it to an interview with me, you would have been faced with many behavioural based interview questions, relating solely to the those HR skills that I needed, plus a few others based on problem solving, initiative, team work etc. I do not interview asking stupid questions about how many windows there are in the Taj Mahal, where you want to be in 5 years, or what sort of animal you would be.

I hope that helps explain why I am so puzzled by your appointment. This is not the first time I have commented on this situation. We have had many cases on CiteHR of people obtaining jobs to which they appear to have absolutely no idea about or skills to do. We have lots more cases of people asking for help on basic matters that they should know the answer to - given the job they are doing.

My background is office administration, and most of my career has been spent in Government administration. But like you, I know a lot about HR, but have never worked in HR. I have never, and would never apply for a job in HR, simply because I cannot demonstrate the skills needed. Knowing and doing are two different things. I would never consider fronting up for an interview, and just try to bluff my through it. I value my credibility far more highly than do something like that.

India is now at a crossroads, it is developing rapidly, and its requirement for highly trained and experienced staff is growing at a exponential rate. Many organisations will not have the luxury of taking unskilled staff, and trying to train them. We are already seeing this in other parts of the world.

The job seekers who will be most successful in the future are the ones who are "job ready" and can walk into a new office at 9am on Monday morning, and hit the ground running. I suspect the time is coming when prospective employers will be willing pay well for those sort of people.

From Australia, Melbourne
Thanks for your wonderful reply. I suspect they hired me this way on purpose. I think they wanted a "blank slate", someone without pre-conceived ideas that must somehow be unlearned. They also hired me from the "outside", and did not promote from within. I have heard some talk that this is a very unusual move from this particular management team. I think they want to keep control of the power side of the equation (at least in the 1 year time frame), and make me the task completer, paper shuffler, mouthpiece...whatever you want to call it. That's why I think they just want me to train under Number 2. Number 2 will still be the decision maker for the foreseeable future. After that, they may decide I deserve more of the control. I don't know because it was only my first day!

"Job ready" is hard to find unless students have broad access to internships and fellowships. Finding those are competitive, and it is rare to get one. It is hard to hit the ground running these days, because of the paradox of if you get the education, then they say you dont have the experience. And if you get the experience, they cant promote you, because you dont have the diploma. And also dont forget that this is a highly charged political environment with all kinds of who-know-what going on behind the scenes! I didnt bluff through the interview at all. It was crystal clear from my application that I had not held an HR position in the past. I was honest about my past experience, so I can only deduce that they wanted a fresh new start. I am ok with that. I am rolling with it. Y'all are so awesome to offer your help and advice!!! Thank you. D.B. :- P

From United States, Mobile
BTW DB--where are you located? USA OR India?
And your hunch about the reason(s) for hiring you MAY be right after all--'think they wanted a "blank slate", someone without pre-conceived ideas that must somehow be unlearned'.
Sometimes, when the organizational experience is bad or not-so-good, they begin to think out-of-the-box. In your case, they seem to have noticed [at least that's my surmise] some traits that go with handling people, issues & presence-of-mind--to have which one DOESN'T need to be a HR guy. The actual competencies needed for a hard-core HR function can be taught, but the soft skills are really tough to be taught/trained [at the most the existing soft skills can be fine-tuned]. One needs to have them inherent.
An analogy of this way of filling-up positions would be found in companies where the head-honchos or critical functions are selected this way.
All the Best.

From India, Hyderabad

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