Monday, November 30, 2009

You are What You Do

I have no formal training in Human Resources or Recruiting.  In past jobs, I just gravitated towards such duties, and decided that this would be the realm that I would pursue for my career.  When I worked as an HR Generalist (I didn't have that title, but it was, essentially, what I did), many people I worked with were surprised that I had no educational background in HR.  It seems most HR jobs require some sort of certification.

I don't know if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but it's likely a mixed bag.

Along those lines, Laurie at Punk Rock HR notes that she has been taken to task for 'masquerading' as an HR professional:
I haven’t held a job in Corporate HR in over two years.

As I explained to Peter Clayton on Total Picture Radio, I left Pfizer in 2007. We planned on moving down to North Carolina and I had every intention of finding a real job. Seriously. I have a spreadsheet that outlines every job I’ve applied for during the past two years.

Then this blog happened and I developed a personal brand — something that never really happens to HR Generalists and Recruiters.  I became known as a woman who provides common sense career advice from the perspective of a disaffected HR professional. I also became known as a crazy cat lady. Both observations are true.

Unfortunately, I was recently advised to drop the moniker of Human Resources professional. I was told, “You’re no longer a Human Resources generalist and you don’t recruit, anymore. You’re a critic and you give out career advice. No offense, but you are not HR.”

Peruse her blog. You'll see that this complaint is complete bunk.  Laurie is an HR professional - and a better one than many I've seen actually serving as such in a corporate HR department.

As I was working as a QA specialist, I returned to university to study economics.  I wasn't, necessarily, planning to get out of IT, but I liked studying economics.  My professor - long-tenured, congenial and disdainful of gate-keepers of acceptable opinion  (and who was friends with the head of the Bank of Canada at the time) - asked me, after class, what I did.  I explained that I was in IT and just taking some more courses.  He felt I should focus on economics because I seemed to be a fit for it.

My professor never felt that a title, an accreditation or a particular job defined anyone or anyone's place in a field.  It was one's aptitude, performance and output that made such a determination.  By those standards, Laurie is a leader in HR.  By those standards, I confidently consider myself a part of the field.

I can think of many examples where people allow the categories and definitions of others to determine what they are or what they are not.  It is no way to succeed and it is no way to build a career.  If there is something you think you can do, you should not worry about artificial barriers that others erect.  If you find yourself with the opportunity to perform, perform.

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