Saturday, December 21, 2019

What attracted me to #HR

I don't seem to have updated this blog on my latest career developments - I guess I leave that to Facebook and Twitter - but for the past 10 months I've been working in recruitment and from the start of January 2020 I make the step into an HR generalist role.  I'm equal parts thrilled and terrified about this.  And in the process of making this change, I've been to countless interviews.  And something that comes up quite a lot is 'why HR?' which I thought I'd discuss briefly today because I think it's interesting and maybe you do too?

If you were to look at my CV you'd see that I kind of swayed between retail jobs for a bit, took a really long career break and then went back into retail.  My first job after moving to the UK was at WHSmith.  Because they were hiring, really.  I got moved from the stationery department, to the front tills, to the book department.  And I liked working with books, so I thought I'd move to being a bookseller when a bookstore opened in the same town.  Then I gave that up to raise my children.  And when I went back into paid employment the only job I could find was at Accessorize.  



And as an aside, I used this as a selling point during interviews (I didn't know anything about stationery when I started at WHSmith, I didn't know anything about children's books when I took over that department at Books Etc, I knew zip about fashion before Accessorize but I am comfortable with the uncomfortable.  I like tackling these types of challenges, so take a chance on me etc.) 

Whilst I did enjoy my work at Accessorize I definitely did not love being on my feet all day. Or working late nights. Or weekends. Or bank holidays. Or working over the Christmas period.  Or working in a store constantly under threat of closure because of how poorly UK high streets and stores are facing in these trying economic times.  So what did I do?  I knew quite obviously what I didn't enjoy about my job.  So instead, I sat down and I wrote a list of all the things that I did enjoy about my job.  

And that list included recruitment processes, inductions for new employees, overseeing disciplinary meetings, performance reviews, updating personnel records, looking after the training in the store, the upkeep of payroll.  I liked getting to know the girls I worked with (and when I left some of them said I felt like their 'second mother' which made me feel pretty weepy, ngl).  That paired with my customer service skills, the juggling of priorities that anyone in retail must have. A good sense of humour in times of crisis, that sort of thing.  A bit of time with google and I came across an entry level Human Resources course at a local college that covered a lot of things that I loved to do and I could see myself doing elsewhere as a proper career.  It was perhaps the only time in my entire life that I'd had this actual light bulb moment.  I'm so grateful for my time at Accessorize

The rest of this story could be rushed along because I got my job in recruitment and now I have this other job in HR.  But the truth of it is that me figuring out (finally!) what I wanted to do with my life in my late-30s was just the first step, really.  

What follows was me working my ass off to work full-time AND study for that first HR course.  Writing essays, taking part in excruciating role play scenarios. Selling myself at interview after interview until I got my recruitment job.  Passing my HR course, promptly starting the Intermediate course.  Doing that while working full-time again, juggling it with family life.  Being under pressure to find another job (my recruitment job was a Fixed Term Contract).  Selling myself at more interviews, pushing myself further and further to fight for my right to sit at the HR table, to be included in the conversations, to be considered for HR roles.  

I know what I want to do now (and importantly, why).  And I'm willing to fight for it.  

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