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Want a Career as an HR Director? Here’s What Not to Do.

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What follows is a cautionary tale about what not to do if you want a career as an HR director. Also, read about how to find a job as an HR director and about the salaries HR directors can expect to earn.

What Not to Do If You Want a Career as an HR Director

If you’re serious about having a career as an HR director, then let me tell you a story about what you absolutely, positively should not do. Take this story to heart, and you’ll secure your job as an HR director.



I used to work for a company a few years ago that was a bit, how should I put it, disorganized, to say the least. In order to introduce structure — and, more importantly, improve employer-employee relations — an HR director was brought in. Let’s call this HR director Harry. Harry the HR Director previously had a reputable job and possessed exceptional credentials. He had worked for a Fortune 500 company, so everyone cheered his arrival. Finally, some management!

Well, it didn’t take too long for Harry the HR Director to shatter everyone’s confidence. I remember the precise moment I lost all hope in his abilities. I approached him about some issues among the members of the sales team I was managing. Prior to Harry the HR Director’s arrival, I thought the situation was hopeless. But I thought Harry, being an HR director, would be able to resolve anything.

So, after I had explained the situation, Harry the HR Director did something that shocked me. He blamed the entire debacle on a seemingly uninvolved individual — the CEO! The CEO is the CEO and as the CEO should not and does not involve himself in employee squabbles, much less does he instigate or cause problems. I was utterly baffled by this turn of events.

But it didn’t end there. Harry the HR Director continued with a tirade on the incompetence and buffoonery of the CEO. Granted, everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. But this was coming from the HR director, and it was aimed at the CEO! Well, that certainly threw me for a loop.

Needless to say, I was not the only one to whom Harry the HR Director unburdened himself. Practically every employee in the company got an earful about what Harry the HR Director really thought about the CEO.

Also needless to say, Harry the HR Director soon parted ways with that company. So, as an HR director, never consider yourself immune to the consequences of a big mouth.

How to Find a Job as an HR Director

So, now that you know what you should absolutely, positively not do as an HR director, here’s how to find a job as an HR director:

First, begin by vamping up your resume and cover letter. Focus on your cover letter. While your resume may list your qualifications for an HR director position, the cover letter shows your personality and gives you the opportunity to connect with your potential employer on an emotional level. Tell employers what you can offer them as an HR director.

The next step in finding a job as an HR director is compiling a list of references and some letters of recommendation. This way, when you apply for an HR director position, you’ll be prepared when employers ask for them. And gather contact information from coworkers so you’ll be able to network with them later.

Use every option available when searching for open HR director positions. Use job boards, contact recruitment and placement firms, initiate direct contact with employers, and utilize directories and associations. Leave no stone unturned when trying to find a job as an HR director.

What You Can Expect to Get Paid as an HR Director

Depending on where you work (a private corporation, a government agency, or a specific field such as medicine or technology), the average salary for an HR director varies. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, human resources managers and directors earned on average $88,510 in May 2006. This number is a couple of years old, but it does give you an idea of what you could be pulling in. The highest 10% earned more than $145,000.

Once you are hired as an HR director, remember: do not, under any circumstances, bad-mouth your boss. Learn from Harry, and you’ll have a great career as an HR director.
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