Why did you choose HR?

I have returned to college and I am taking classes in the evenings. I have a research paper due for one of my management classes and I have decided that I couldn't find a better source of information than right here on this board.

So if you don't mind, please let me know what influenced your decision to go into Human Resources? Almost everyone I have spoken to has given me the same response which is "it needed to be done and I just somehow was given the job".

Thanks so much for your help on this assignment.



  • 27 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • 38 years ago I had a premonition that sometime in the 2003-05 time frame there would be a need on something called a computer forum for someone to be a counterweight to the thoroughly illogical comments of someone in Mississippi. I started in HR at that point in order to be ready.
  • I hated accounting, and marketing was boring. It was my only other option.

  • Originally, to meet women. Seriously! x;-)

    Actually, I'd like to say for the same reason Gillian did, but he beat me to it.

    I started out in college with every intention of going to law school but then decided I didn't need a heart attack or a nervous breakdown at age 28 from working 80-hour weeks at a large law firm. HR combined the two things I enjoyed the most - recruiting and law - so I just stumbled into it and moved on.

  • I hate to point out your failures; but, you have neither been able to sucessfully counter the guy from Mississippi, nor (as Ray points out) meet women. You did, however, raise our knowledge about the differences in black and brown leather aviator jackets once. x:D
  • I have my degree in accounting and did that for 10 years. I kept doing more and more HR duties and decided that I enjoyed HR more, so I made the switch.
  • I had to find a job that paid me to talk. I kept getting in trouble at other jobs. x:D
  • I was in accounting and the HR person was moving to Tucson. She said she thought I'd be good at HR, and I thought it looked "fun". 8-| x:D

    I also missed the interaction with my customers. I'd "grown up" doing face-to-face customer service type work, and my accounting position was all desk and phone work. A great learning experience but I didn't get the gratification of seeing the people I was helping.
  • My first job out of college was for an insurance company paying claims. The company I now work for was looking for someone with experience in insurance. I got the job and the position just expanded with time.
  • [font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 02-16-05 AT 08:13AM (CST)[/font][br][br]Simple evolution. Straight out of college I worked in a multitude of government programs involving training, recruitment, testing, orientation to world of work presentations, job counseling, worker retraining, job search and relocation and labor law. Then got a masters in vocational guidance and counseling. That led to recruiting for a multitude of industries, staffing, training and further counseling programs while managing staff from 5 to 55. Which led to intimate involvement in the birthing of CETA, JTPA, the I-9 rollout, ADA and FMLA. All of that was laced with much involvement with EEOC, the administration of various labor laws and policy writing.

    I retired with 25 years of that madness and realized what I had actually done all that time was nothing more or less than personnel or human resources type work with an unlimited leash. So, the transition to private industry was a breeze.

    Everything I've been lucky enough to do in private industry is a direct result of that evolutionary process that began when this (then) liberal college graduate took a job at $501 per month (MONTH, not week). I never once said anything as idealistic as, "Hey, I think I want to do HR work for a career." After all, I bet 95% of us arrived here quite by accident.

    My only other option at the time was joining the Peace Corps and marching against the establishment. This pays better. x:-)
  • Don, I've got you beat on lowest pay for first post-college job. It was also indirectly HR-related. I was a clerk-typist in the Liberal Arts Placement Office at UT with a gross monthly salary of $385. I was the only person in the department so I was the boss and the assistant all rolled into one. My job of helping lib. arts grads finding non-existent jobs was re-located to the university career counseling center, and I learned to administer and interpret vocational interest tests, teach resume writing and interviewing skills, etc, thereby learning Title VII stuff. Entered a master's program in higher ed. admin and took management and HR courses as electives. Eventually switched to K-12 education as a planner, and was offered the opportunity to consolidate disparate personnel-related functions (hiring, records, benefits) spread around in various offices into an HR department. So my first "real" HR job was as a director, and I've had that same job for 23 years. Whew!
  • Our HR Mgr retired and I was the only other person in the office my boss could trust with all the confidential material. The job was added to all my other responsibilities.

    Cheryl C.
  • Started out with a company as a Secretary under a contract program; that program ended and there was a clerical position open in HR. Transferred into that position and you know the rest. Stayed in HR because I liked the "helping people" part; the feeling that people had confidence that I was going to "take care of them" as far as benefits, evals, etc.
  • I was desperate! I was working in textiles in a small town in South Carolina and knew that the industry was going lose most of its jobs to foreign competition. HR was the only college curriculum offered locally that I could fit into my schedule of being a working wife and mother.
  • With a degree in engineering I was a design engineer for about 13 years. I then got my MBA and evolved into management, mostly manufacturing plant management. From the gitgo I've always been intrigued with the people part of things and employment law fascinated me. (No, I don't have a fever.)Armed with all that I gravitated toward the HR part of things, eventually got my SPHR cert, and ended up in HR management. Or maybe more accurately, I got pulled into it. And as Michael Corleone would say, "I try to get out, but they just drag me back in."
  • Interesting aside: When I was in the AF during the late 70's, pilots were encouraged to get a masters degree if they wanted to be promoted beyond the rank of major. Gonzaga University offered on-base evening classes leading to a Masters in Human Resources Management (yes, they were calling it HR even back then). I once asked one of the educational counselors why HR, and not business administration, marketing, etc. He told me that pilots don't like to study, they like to fly and this was the degree which required the least amount of homework. x;-)
  • Wow! Thanks for all of your responses. It seems that the answers I was receiving from local companies spills over into this fourm.

    I am a good five years older than the next oldest person in the majority of my classes and they are choosing HR as their career choice. It is extremely interesting to hear about your experiences.

    Thanks once again!
  • When I started out in the 60s I worked in government and they had a thing called personnel managers. I definitly did not want to be one of them. I later moved into association managment and about 25 per cent of my time was spent recuiting, dealing with leave issues, handling payroll and benefit issues etc. After 25 years of that I moved into a position with a for profit company where more than 50 percent of my time was spent on human resources. I found that I actually enjoyed dealing with all of the issues in HR more than I did dealing with other parts of the job and decided to become a certified professional. The big difference between the 60s and now has been that there have been so many laws written and legal opinions made that business has been forced to take Human Resources more seriously. They still consider financial resources to be the most important but Human Resources is gaining. I doubt if it will ever equal the level of priority which financial demands but I find that dealing with our employees and our clients' employee issues to be challenging and interesting.
  • I had a great professor back in college that taught a class on "The History of Labor and Trade Unions". He was quite a story teller, relating how he was often questioned by the FBI back in the 50's regarding his "communist activities" and his support for unions. When he taught us about the evolution of collective bargaing and the mulitude of labor laws that govern that process, it sounded like an extremely interesting career option. I pursued a Masters in Labor Relations, and landed a position in HR shortly after graduation. Haven't regretted it a bit (well, maybe sometimes, after dealing with our local unemployment office). Other than that, if you wish to pursue HR, stay abreast of employment law - it will always serve you well.
  • I could probably beat the low pay derby but I don't remember what my pay was in my first HR job. I do remember working my way through college at .85 an hour though, and I got more than the rest because I was a supervisor in the dish room. I actually did plan on HR. I was impressed by the work done by the employment person at the machine shop where I got a clerical job. I thought his boss, the Personnel Manager, stunk though and I thought I could do better. I told them I was interested in personnel work but nothing was open when I graduated from college. I left for my first job - in benefits. My job was to calculate the appropriate amount of money that went to providers or the employee on a ten key adding machine. Then I filled out a three part NCR form by hand to summarize the benefit payouts. After a year or so of that the employment person at the machine shop left and I went back to my former employer for a few more years. After that, it was a city civil service agency, an overnight package delivery company, consulting, a university, and back to consulting.
  • If I read you correctly, the overnight package delivery job was the only real job you ever had. x:-)
  • Nietra: That's exactly how I got my job--somebody had to do it so I was the lucky one. It seems more often than not lately that I wish I had never heard of HR.
  • As with many of you, HR kind of chose me, and not the other way around. After graduating with a music degree from a small, liberal arts college, I went to work paying claims for Blue Cross & Blue Shield. About 5 years later, a job opened up with an insurance brokerage located closer to my home, and I entered the wonderful world of group life and health insurance sales. Over the next several years, I "morphed" into a benefits consultant.

    Over the strong protests of my original career mentor, I went over to the "dark side" - corporate benefits management - in the early 1980s. Ten years later, I was handed the responsibility for the rest of HR - and I've never looked back.

    As I settle into my 50s, I'm still enjoying the challenges and variety of this career that chose me! Sometimes, I'm tempted to envy the "youngsters" that seem to know in their 20s how they want to spend their working years. However, I wouldn't trade my own experiences on the road to "now" for anything!
  • I didn't choose HR, it chose me.

    I was working for MetLife Resources when this job dropped into my lap (Benefits/Compensation Manager). Some friends of mine saw the job ad in the paper and said it sounded like something made for me. My wife asked me if I had applied and I said no. She said to apply so I did and voila, here I am. And I am enjoying it.
  • It's good to see a good Republican who does what his wife tells him to do! x:-)
  • I had been self-employed but needed to return to full-time work. My roommate helped me get a job where she worked as a file clerk in the HR Dept. Not long after I started working, the company decided to move its headquarters to Atlanta. Those who didn't want to move started looking for other jobs, including my roommate. She administered the 401(k) at this company. When she found another job, I got put in her place. Talk about a crash course in HR. We had 1200 employees nationwide. I eventually was responsible for all benefits and decided I liked working in HR so when the company left and I started looking for another job, I looked in HR. Have been there ever since - 13 years. There are days, like when I have to fire 4 people in one day, when I wonder why though!:-?
  • What influenced my decision to go into HR?

    Well, it's convoluted.

    When I was a kid, I wanted to become a lawyer in the worst way. I took debate classes, public speaking classes, participated in the Student Body Association & then a very nice middle school counselor asked me if I wanted to job shadow her husband. I agreed and so did this other kid. Job shadowing her husband was pretty boring - he was representing the wife in a divorce hearing and the two sides were arguing over, yes I am old, their record and 8-track collection. The other kid and I skipped out of the room in search of "greener" (read: sexier) pastures. We hit pay dirt with the next courtroom. A guy was on trial for assaulting his girlfriend - hit her repeatedly with beer bottles & the works. His attorney was SOOOOO theatrical, SOOOO over the top in all of his "objections" and such that I thought at one point we were going to get kicked out of the room for laughing/giggling. When a break occurred, we left the room to report back to our assigned attorney about the buffoon fella. When we related the story back, our attorney, nice Norwegian fella, turned extremely white. Turns out, the buffoon was his boss & the top attorney in town. The kid and I were so disgusted; we both swore not to become attorneys. Here's the thing though, the law was still interesting, just not the profession.

    Next, after the incident with the attorney, it took me awhile to figure out what I wanted to do. It wasn't until the death of one of my most favorite teachers while I was in college that I realized that I should teach. In fact it's something that she had told another teacher friend I should do a few weeks before she died. I was all set to leave the community college & attend Eastern WA U, when the bombshell dropped at home - no money for school (I had been paying for CC). With no funds, no real support, I went into the Air Force. They had an education program and I went into an Administrative position thinking that when I got out, I could at least get a half way decent job & go back to school.

    In the Air Force, I worked in the chapel or I should say several chapels. I interacted with a lot of folks in different emotional states, I had to go with chaplains into the field when a suicide occurred, I met my first real life crazy person, and I had to organize a lot of events, from weddings to funerals. When I got out a few years later, I started school. But, while I was in the military, I also got married & two years after getting out (married a total of 6) we were divorced & I needed to bring home some money. I didn't finish college, but I picked myself up & starting working Admin. for a company & not long after starting the gal that hired me quit. My boss gave me her position, a lot less pay, the employee manual and told me I had a meeting with the insurance broker later that day to discuss benefits. Now, 10 years after it began & 6+ years in management & a PHR under my belt, I say that HR chose me. Some days I love it & some days I hate it. Every day though, I'm thankful that it incorporates all of my interests.

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