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HR Director Tells All

I don’t believe in reincarnation, but just in case it’s true, let me go on record. I want to come back as an human resources director.

Talk about a glamour job! Talk about massive gobs of power with maximum clout and minimum responsibility. Sure, it must be difficult to fire a 40-year employee on his 60th birthday or to explain to a batch of workers that their jobs have been shipped to Turkmenistan, but as long as you still get your paycheck, your bonus and your free membership to the executive aromatherapy facility, you can handle a little weeping now and then.

Fortunately, you don’t have to die to become an HR director, or, at least, to know how they think. Simply acquire a copy of “Congratulations … You’re Hired” by Patricia D. Sadar and Teresa Kerrigan. Sadar is a self-proclaimed “Human Resources Professional” and her partner, Kerrigan, is a “Corporate Training Professional.” Who better to lift the veil on “insider secrets and career advice from the person who is hiring” than the human resources director?

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The two professionals have organized their book using a driving analogy. The authors not only offer five roads to your destination but also include graphics to alert you when you must “Slow Down,” or make a U-Turn, or take the “Fast Lane to The Truth.” There are also “Parking Areas,” where you fill in templates for interactive self-analysis. (Sorry, but “Parking Area” does not at all relate to that dimly lit lover’s lane where you interacted with your high school sweetheart, you animal.)

A highway sign that could indicate an analysis of your career — “Dead End” — actually refers to certain hiring myths the HR professionals debunk. Like the completely insane idea that “the company is looking to hire the best person.” Based on who gets hired at your company, you probably never held this particular opinion, but if you ever had any doubts, now you know.

Another myth the authors demolish is that a one-page resume is all you need. You really need to provide much more targeted information — unless you’re a high school student with a thin job history or the company has specifically asked for a one-pager. The authors do not cover your specific situation, in which any opinions offered by your past employers would be so toxic that you would do better with a one-line resume such as: “There’s $10,000 in your name in a Swiss bank account when you give me this job.”

Another piece of “insider information” explains that you’re allowed to call or email to check on the lack of a response after an application or an interview, “but you don’t want to be perceived as a pest or as being desperate for the job.” A better solution is to bring your sleeping bag and camp stove to the company parking lot and set up housekeeping. Tell them you’d be happy to move out of the CEO’s parking space when you can move in to your new cubicle. The advantage of this strategy is that when you are hired, you’ll already have your sleeping bag with you, so your afternoon naps will be far more comfy-cozy.

If you’re not exactly sure what kind of employment ads you should be answering, the authors direct you to a “Parking Area,” where you can complete an analysis of your SWOT — “Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.” You will not have to waste a lot of time filling in the boxes for strengths, but listing your weaknesses could keep you busy for at least a week. As to the threats, the authors refer to situations in your chosen industry that you cannot control. Personally, I prefer a different kind of threat. Try the classic “Give me this job, or I’ll hold my breath until I turn red.” Not even the hardest-hearted HR director can resist that one.

Another “Parking Area” asks you to answer questions regarding your specific career goals. Since your major goal is to have a job where you get paid a whole lot and don’t have to do squat, I’m sure you’ll be done with this task before you get a parking ticket.

The final “Parking Area” activity is to create an “Action Plan.” I suggest you start with taking a nice, long nap. After all this traveling inside the brain of an HR professional, you definitely are going to need a rest stop before your engine — or your head — explodes.

Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at bob@funnybusiness.com.

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