Miss Jessica Lee | Founding Member & Editor, HR Examiner Editorial Advisory Board

Jessica Lee | Founding Member & Editor, HR Examiner Editorial Advisory Board

Please welcome Jessica Lee to HRExaminer! Jessica holds a unique position on our team because she is both a contributor and our editor responsible for coordinating and editing all content for the HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board. By day, Jessica is a senior employment manager and HR professional based in Washington DC at APCO Worldwide. Full Bio

Just when did being an HR Generalist become so undesirable?

A few weeks back, I chaired and helped plan a one-day conference for recruiters by recruiters in Washington, D.C. (where I work and live), aptly called recruitDC. Lots of great sharing and a ton of learning took place and we ended the day with a discussion on career development for recruiters – after all, you go to a conference, you take in all of that learning, and for what?

During the course of that discussion, the audience was informally polled on the kinds of roles they were aspiring to. “Show of hands for folks who are looking to grow into an HR Generalist role?” You could practically hear the crickets in the room. Can you imagine? Of 230 recruiters, only one person raised her hand and said she was looking towards the role of HR Generalist. One person! All of a sudden, being an HR Generalist seemed so ugly to me.

Sure, you might argue that it was a recruiter’s conference – what else would I expect? But that sentiment – of very few people wanting to become HR Generalists – it’s everywhere. I promise. From deep in the HR trenches, I promise you this is true. No one wants to become an HR Generalist. People don’t want to be called HR Generalists. You could repackage it and call the role an HR Business Partner yet still, the reaction is more of the same.

I still call myself an HR Generalist though. Regardless of my level, my organization’s size, regardless of my given job title, I will always wear that badge as for me, it boils down to a mentality more than anything else. You can and have the ability to do a little bit of everything – recruit, employee relations, learning and development, some benefits possibly sprinkled in. You’ve mastered enough to do it all but more importantly, you believe in doing it all because you see the interconnectedness of all of those pieces in each employee’s lifecycle. It’s not as if you recruit and hire, then can just let go. Things you learn through recruiting for a team, or recruiting a particular candidate – all of that carries into organizational development, employee relations issues and more. And you’ll come up with the most effective solution possible for whatever the issue by harnessing everything you’ve gathered along the way throughout an employee’s lifecycle. It always all ties back together somehow. (Queue the circle of life music…!)

That all said, the best HR Generalists I know? The ones I have found to be most effective, most in-tune with the business, and having the greatest impact are ones who still recruit, or they’ve done a significant amount of recruiting in the past. Recruiting is, after all, without a shadow of a doubt, the best place to learn the business of any organization. Just think about the process a good recruiter might go through to learn the requirements of a position so that they might find the best possible candidate. Personally, I need to know everything I can about a role I’m recruiting for and the team its on to the point that I can credibly speak to candidates for whatever the position is as if I had been in it before, to the point where I have candidates telling me quite frequently that they’ve never met a recruiter like me who can answer questions like I can. Just think about what being able to do that truly means as far as my IQ for the business. And isn’t that level of acumen what you would want for your HR Generalists too?

We’ve simply got to get more recruiters interested in the HR Generalist path. Or more HR Generalists hanging around recruiters. Either way, the divide between the two has got to narrow.

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