The Silicon Valley Voice

Power To Your Voice

I Are HR

Have you ever noticed that sometimes, when you have no idea what to do with your life, the universe sends you a message? Sometimes, the message comes as a whisper. Other times, the universe bops you on the head with a baseball bat.

Today, the message came in the mail. (For my younger readers, “mail” is like email, except it is printed on paper and delivered, not through a computer but by a trained government employee called a mail carrier. It’s what Mommy and Daddy used to send naked photos to each other through before the invention of sexting.)

The headline on the message I received read, “HUMAN RESOURCES” in big fat letters.


Message received, universe. Starting today, I am launching my new career as a human resources professional.

The fact that I know absolutely nothing about my newly chosen profession could be a problem, I suppose, but fortunately, the piece of mail that changed my life turned out to be a promotional brochure for a one-day course in HR. One day! That’s all it takes for the friendly folks at CareerTrack to turn an HR ignoramus like me or thee into an HR superstar.

Now, the company may not make such a sweeping claim, but it does promise that its “crash course” will “swiftly get you up to speed on all aspects of HR — from legal to compliance issues, to hiring and firing, benefits administration, records keeping/retention and more.”

Of course, there are a few course corrections I want to suggest, so let’s look at some of the highlights of your training day.

Clearly, the first step to becoming a successful HR person is to master an entire lexicon of confusing acronyms. Like FLSA, EEO, OSHA, FMLA, ADA and HIPPA. Except for this last spoonful of alphabet soup, which will be crystal-clear to anyone who has ever had a HIPPA replacement, these confusing abbreviations are a vital tool in your new HR career.

The more of these belles-lettres you can stuff into a single sentence, the more respected you will be. As in: “I’m afraid we have to terminate your employment, Ms. Fenster. FLSA regulations expressly forbid an OSHA exception for an FMLA employee who is not recognized by the EEO or the ADA.”

What this means I have no idea, but if a HR person said it to me, I’d pack my boxes and get out … fast.

(Fortunately, nobody knows what these acronyms mean, so feel free to make up your own. It could save your job. “But what about the NERNFURB exception for URGUP-ranked employees,” Ms. Fenster should respond. “I believe the POOP has determined that we are a protected class.”)

Another key to being a successful HR person is learning how to locate, interview and vet job seekers. According to the CareerTrack curriculum, the one-day course will cover the questions that you may and may not ask in an interview. Hopefully, questions like, “Where do you want to be in the next five years?” will be on the don’t-ask list. Anyone who doesn’t answer, “Sitting on a talcum-powder white beach in Bongo-Bongo with $5 million tax-free dollars hidden in coconuts under my hammock” is lying to you.

(Another great question to ask — “You’re interviewing all over town. Is there any place you’ve been that looks like they could use an HR professional whose entire experience amounts to a quickie course he took in a cheesy hotel meeting room?” This kind of probing question, along with a $20 bill laid elegantly on top of the candidate’s resume, could result in a fantastic new job — for you!)

Of course, the life of an HR professional is not all Skittles and beer. And the training does include “guidelines for the legal termination of an employee.” This is never a pleasant task, but I have to tell you, it’s a lot better being the person who does the firing than the person who gets fired. One excellent way to use your newfound HR chops is to fire yourself. Remember to document everything and be equally sure to make the firing totally illegal. That way, you can collect mega-bucks from yourself, or, more correctly, your former employer, who will be more than happy to pay to get rid of you.

What you do next is a mystery, but trust the universe to provide you with a much better career than HR. That’s right, you could get a flyer in the mail for a dynamite one-day course in small-rodent taxidermy.

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


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