So, are HR jobs not particularly vital to companies? Or are they just icing on the cake if you work at a high-powered corporation?
I did some asking around, and it turns out that I’m not alone. Many of my own friends and family members share my lack-of-HR woes at their jobs. It’s not like I got sexually harassed at work or overcharged on my health insurance — I just never felt like I had anyone to go to if something went wrong. I thought HR was supposed to be there as the employees’ advocate. Perhaps this function has shifted in the small business world.
Stephanie Gonzalez, who has worked for a small-scale business in San Bernardino, California, for approximately 10 years, felt my pain about her own company’s lack of HR jobs.
“One of our managers, who wears many hats in the company, handles the human resource issues for us, but usually she has no idea what she is doing,” Gonzalez says. “When I went on maternity leave, I had to go online, get the appropriate government paperwork, and figure it out on my own. I also have frequently overpaid for my health insurance and have had to go out of my way to get reimbursed. It’s been a real mess without any knowledgeable HR personnel.”
Experts report that human resources-related spending can be one of the largest expenses, if not the top expense, in a small business. Many small businesses that are in crunches for money and resources do their own HR work via web-based software or outsourced companies. This, of course, eliminates many possibilities for full-time, in-house HR jobs.
Okay, so I suppose it may be safe to say you’re better off seeking an HR director or manager position with Google or Starbucks, right? Sure, but there are a couple of other HR job options if you’re looking toward smaller businesses.
Even though many small businesses won’t fork over the cash for a full-time HR director, HR consultants are hired often to come in and perform a la carte human resources tasks. These HR job contractors can be hired for anywhere from weeks to months.
Surprisingly, many small businesses have positive business outlooks right now, so if you’re willing to stick it out as an office or payroll assistant during this hiring drought, you can invest your efforts with the hope of advancing to the job of HR manager as your company gains momentum.
According to the National Federation of Independent Business’s Economic Trends Report for February, there was a 1.1-point rise in small business optimism to 92.9, a month after the index hit its lowest level since 1991 at 91.8. The scale was set at 100 in 1986 and is adjusted each season.