Punk Rock HR Question: Am I Built for HR?


This question comes from Kay.

I have been let go after working as a Mortgage Consultant for the past five years. I have considered changing careers because I have realized that my personality is just not suited to a career in sales. I am interested in pursuing a career in Human Resources; however I have concerns that my personality may not be suited either.

I am not particularly social, although I am considered friendly, pleasant and helpful. I don’t like networking events or mixers or things like that. I am not chatty (someone who gets right to the point- driver personality) and have been to referred to as “all business”. I realize now that not being social was a killer to my mortgage career. Would the same be true of HR?


Kay, I once interviewed for a Human Resources job at a Fortune 50 company. This was a very professional organization with a strong and savvy HR department. Most of the employees had MBAs and many of them had experience working for high-powered politicians and lobbying firms.

During the interview, the leader of the department asked me, “What career field do you think your HR skills would most easily translate to?”

I thought it was a stupid question — but what do you expect from a Human Resources professional interviewing another HR professional? It’s like the blind leading the blind. Anyway, I gave it a shot.

“Teaching,” I answered. “I believe that I have a unique ability to communicate complex ideas in a simple and concise manner. This skill works well in HR where I have to advocate complicated business principles to employees. It’s kinda like teaching.”

“No,” the guy responded. “HR is like real estate. It’s all about selling.”

I tell you this story because no matter what anyone tells you, HR is about selling. Some people try to tell you that HR is about communicating — and it is — but even the best companies with the most talented employees still expect HR to sell something. When you work in Human Resources, you are expected to sell a reduction in benefit plans, wellness programs, a freeze on raises & bonuses, etc.

If I were you, I would take your experience and parlay it into a career where your interactions are transaction-based and solution-oriented. CareerBuilder has advice on the best paying careers for people with and without degrees — and they even have an article about the best careers paying over $25/hr.

My best advice? Health care and government jobs are hot, right now. Go find one.

Other HR peeps — what do you think?

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