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A Day in the Life of an HR Star

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Like most recent college graduates, Kylee Cannon had no idea what she wanted to do with her life. She considered interior design, fashion merchandising even dental hygiene, but like 90 percent of Americans, Kylee fell into a job that was far different from what she had imagined for herself back in college. Luckily, Kylee loves her human resources job, but if you’re like me, you probably have no idea what someone in the HR industry even does, what an HR job entails, or even how to go about getting an HR position. What does the term ''human resources'' really even mean? Well, let's find out!

Contrary to popular belief, human resources in not just about hiring and firing. A good HR department should include the following sub-departments:

  • Recruitment
  • Employee relations
  • Benefits
  • Workers compensation and safety
  • Training and development
  • HR information systems
  • Transactions
I know, I know — that really doesn’t narrow down what an HR job is at all. Basically, an HR job includes wearing numerous hats — counselor, accountant, problem solver, trainer, coach, organizer, planner, and administrator — and one has to wear them all well.



It’s a good thing Kylee likes hats!

Kylee holds an unusual human resources job, in that she does not work for a corporation, but for the California state government. She works at a human resources job at a state university. While some people glamorize working for the government — we’ve all heard the rumors: government employees get lots of holidays and don’t do much work, etc. — Kylee has found that working for a government agency, while fun, holds its own set of difficulties and obstacles.

The state of California is currently facing a huge deficit problem and no one bears more of the financial burden than the school system. State universities are no different, having to face serious cutbacks, layoffs, and reorganizations. It is extremely hard to perform well in a job when there is simply no money to spend, period. But Kylee faces the challenges that come with working for the government head on.

Kylee is a human resources assistant — i.e., a generalist. She works in the transactions sub-department. She says the department is similar to that of a payroll division in a company, but because she works for a large non-profit division of the University, which also employs students, internationals, faculty and some of the countries most renowned researchers, it’s becomes HR’s responsibility to monitor all employment funds, hours, and laws before a check is cut.

So what is the typical day like for Kylee? Let’s just say there is no such thing as a typical day for someone who holds an HR job, especially an HR job at a government agency. A normal day for Kylee includes:

  • Recruitment assistance

  • Benefits billing

  • Conducting employee training sessions

  • Redistributing and monitoring funds

  • Processing new hires and rehires and position status changes. (According to Kylee, the University sees a lot of rehiring and status changes due to the large amount of grant money the research projects rely on. Most projects at the school are temporary, and when money runs out, an employee’s hours are reduced or eliminated. When new grants come, those employees are hired yet again.)
Kylee says that before working in HR, she had no idea how much attention to detail was involved in human resources. ''Typing a V instead of a T could cause someone to get the wrong kind of retirement or health insurance.'' She also says she is constantly working under a deadline. Everything has to be done by a certain day or a certain time for individual payrolls, or there are major consequences.

Kylee is currently enrolled in a certificate program for human resources management. She is also studying to take the PHR (professional human resources certification) test. This certification is a must-have if you want a career in human resources. The certification states that you have knowledge and experience in HR and are not just in a support position. To take the test you must have held an exempt position for at least two years. An exempt position is a supervisor or upper-level position.

Kylee advises that you always put the truth on your resume when applying for an HR job. She says there is nothing worse than exaggerating your resume, as any phoniness will immediately show when you get in the interview: ''When someone mentions an AB1825, and you don’t know what it is, you’ve just shot yourself in the foot and eliminated yourself for any other employment opportunities.''

When I asked Kylee why she is good at her job, she told me that ever since she was a child she was constantly criticized for judging people too harshly. She meets someone and immediately makes a decision about whether or not she likes, trusts, detests, or admires the person. This has resulted in her having a very limited, but awesome, group of friends. She is a firm believer in ''quality, not quantity.'' She says that from working in HR, she has finally found a place where she can use this ''flaw'' to her benefit. In recruitment, Kylee had instant success.

She says, ''I don’t feel like I am just choosing a body to fill a particular position. I am really looking to make sure it is someone I would want to work for/with; someone who will contribute to the company, not just pull their own weight; someone who wants to grow in their position, not just collect a check. Basically, I want to make sure the company will get their ROI and beyond. And for once in my life, my critical nature and high standards of people are coming in handy!''

Kylee simply loves her job in human resources. Even though an HR job wasn’t her childhood dream, or even a path she ever imagined for herself, she has found a career niche and succeeded tremendously. The fact is, you never know what the universe or your job is going to throw your way, or what lifelong skills or ''flaws'' may cause you to flourish. Take Kylee’s lead and embrace the unknown. You never know how happy it might make you.
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 responsibility  workers compensation  resources management  beliefs  fashions  HR  government employees  industry  benefits  safety


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