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New Job Jitters: How to Keep the HR Job You Land

New Job Jitters: How to Keep the HR Job You Land

This is what I tell HR friends and clients who didn’t land the job they wanted because someone else did: “Don’t worry, chances are good that the job will open up again.” You’re in HR, you know this: The higher up the org chart an executive goes, the higher the chance that that executive will flame out before the first year is over.   But this is your career we’re talking about. And I want you to hang on to your great new job in HR.

Remember that you’re not your predecessor. The person before you may have been loved, despised or discounted altogether. Either way, that new chair you’re filling has been packed with emotional baggage.  Decide what you want your tenure in your position to stand for. And then choose the priorities and behaviors that will make your time in this new job your own.

Ask your immediate reports to envision the ideal working relationship/experience that they could have with you. You’re not taking orders from them in a subservient sort of way.  You are gaining understanding into what’s valuable and motivating to them.  Because of human nature, we tend to move direction of framing things in the negative (even if we start off positive). So this is a good way to discover where the wounds, resentments and frustrations are.

Pick one thing and fix it…fast. This is not change for change sake.  (In fact, if it’s not a specific fix, hold off for a few months until you thoroughly understand your job.) Make the fix an immediately obvious experiential one.  In our book, HR From the Heart, Libby Sartain tells of the time when her team on her new job complained about horrible smells leaching from the restroom and filling the work area. For months – if not years -- they just figured that they had to live with it.  She called engineering and got it fixed. Immediately. Way to win points with the team.

Find a mentor up the chart; find a mentor down the chart.  Finding an up mentor is a no brainer. But how about building a relationship with someone thoroughly plugged into the organization who might be significantly lower in the organization?  These are the people who really know what’s going on throughout the entire organization. And they’re clued into the culture in such a way they can help you get things done through relationship rather than just fiat. Keep the relationship appropriate in all ways, of course.

Never eat lunch alone. Borrowing from Keith Ferrazzi’s terrific book of the same title, make it your business to spend your lunch hours with colleagues, peers, direct reports, HR professionals in the community.

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Martha I. Finney is the author of The Truth About Getting the Best From People, and a consultant specializing in employee engagement. For a free consultation on how you can build a vacation-friendly workplace culture, email Martha at

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One Comment

  1. What is a good approach to use when looking to build a relationship with a mentor? Where do I look for one if there’s no one in my organization I could have as a mentor?

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