What were your steps toward an HR Manager career?Carol:
After being laid off from my dream job, I was paralyzed. Having lunch with a friend one day, I was explaining how I was helping others in HR, but not being paid. She said to me, "Wake up, you are in business." I started my own company and now have retained clients, special projects and actually have found a way to "give back" to others. My business grew so fast that I took on a partner five years ago and will be adding another soon. My first client was actually an interview for a full time position. Realizing that the company was in a downturn, I suggested that they not hire me, but that they couldn't afford not to utilize my services. They agreed and so it began. That was eight years ago. From there, they have referred me to two other businesses. As a presenter at state-wide not-for-profit organizations, I have been able to grow my business having a specialty in compensation for the not-for-profit companies. My name is my brand.
What do you like or dislike about being an HR Manager?Carol:
I love having the flexibility of managing HR for a number of companies that keeps me current in my field. The fact that I name my hours and provide service to clients who could not otherwise afford to have an HR person in their business is a win-win proposition.
The biggest challenge is that I am now responsible for all the business matters: taxes, paying bills, billing companies, and all the other things that come along with running a business. It took some time to adjust to this since I was used to having a secretary take care of all of this. However, there are ways around this. Understanding that my time was worth more actually doing what I liked rather than the financial aspects, made me decide to hire someone to do this. The second challenge was keeping every client straight. With five of them, I needed to remember who was who and which policies applied to whom.
Can you recall any amusing moments from your HR Manager career?Carol:
A life in human resources is never dull. You never can plan a day. Every decision you make affects someone's life. HR people are either disliked or well-liked. There is no in-between. The craziest thing that happened to me was during an interview process. I asked to take the candidate's coat and she said, "Oh no, I don't give my coat to anyone, and don't ask for my hat." She clearly was nervous. Halfway through the interview, she suddenly was short of breath and the next thing I knew, I was riding in an ambulance to the hospital and trying to contact her family. I was also asked by a client to see if I could train his goldfish to all swim in the same direction. There are many more stories like this.
Do you have any advice for those interested in an HR Manager career?Carol:
Anyone can become their own boss. You do need to have a clear vision of what services you offer and try not to be all things to all people. I tried to do all pieces of HR for whoever asked. Choose a niche for yourself and get known for that niche. Also, understand how to charge for your time. I really undercharged my time on my first assignment and became very smart about it very quickly. Lastly, you need support from others. I actually joined a group of other entrepreneurial women. We meet once a month and share marketing tips, fee structures, financial help, etc. We don't compete with each other, but are allies for each other.
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