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How to Tell You're in HR

We asked you to tell us you're an HR professional without telling us you're an HR professional. You responded in droves.

How can you possibly describe to people what your HR job entails? 

No one outside of human resources can really understand the broad spectrum of responsibilities that are placed on you. Nor will they believe the heavy demands made on your time by a multitude of people—from the executive team down to entry-level workers. Sometimes you can’t even believe what people ask of you! 

In recent social media posts, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) asked you to “tell us you’re an HR professional without telling us you’re an HR professional.” Thousands responded on Facebook, LinkedIn and the members-only SHRM Connect discussion board. Do any of these sound familiar? 

Behind-the-scenes miracle worker!

—Adanna Sargeant, HR manager, JMD Wireless LLC, Chaguanas, Trinidad and Tobago

I’m a very nice person and like people. But a lot of them never want to come to my office. 

—Eileen Itell, assistant vice president, human resources officer, AmeriServe Financial Bank, Johnstown, Pa.

The unofficial lawyer, peacemaker, private detective, doctor, babysitter, janitor, therapist & certified mind reader. Oh, and I’m either loved or hated, depending on what you want or need.

—Tamrah Fairman, HR manager, EMR Elevator Inc., Arlington, Texas

You want me in your boat to help you row, not to bail water when it starts to sink!

—Lynn Travaglio, HR manager, Jennie-O Turkey Store Inc., Willmar, Minn.

People I work with talk to me like I am something in between Dear Abby and Oprah.

—Rose Fernández Eubanks, global business partner, Orange International Carriers, Herndon, Va.

Employee: Um, the toilet’s backed up … 

Me: OK. Did you tell maintenance? 

Employee: No.

Me: Thanks for stopping by!

—Stephanie Riccobono, owner, SeniorHR Consulting, Sterling Heights, Mich.


No, you can’t use sick time to care for your dog.

—Kim Piper, HR manager, Wamego, Kan.

Manager: Hey, do you have a minute for a quick question?

Me: You bet. What’s up?

Two hours later …

—Emily Tietyen, SHRM-CP, HR director, Anduzzi’s Sports Club, Green Bay, Wis.

I’m processing an STD that will go into LTD that’s not covered by FML, but will need accommodations under ADA until they can RTW FT FD. Oh, this is also a WC.

—Patricia Matthews, employment manager, Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, Richmond, Va.


I have developed a PIP for my child.

—Tamara Bedford, human resources, Universal Mental Health Services, Winston-Salem, N.C.

No, you can’t! No, no, no.

—Maria Diaz,  HR director, Vision Landscapes, Bonita Springs, Fla.

To save time, let’s just assume that I’m never wrong.

—Nazish Masood, HR executive, Prepac Engineering Industries (Pvt) Ltd., Lahore District, Punjab, Pakistan

I fix problems you didn’t know you had.

—Darlene Burgess, SHRM-CP, HR manager, Franklin Street, Tampa, Fla.

Manager: I would like them to have 10+ years’ experience, be a superstar, have no personal life, previous experience with a Fortune 500 company, but I’d like to pay them like they just graduated college.

—Melissa Wagner, HR manager, Q Car Wash,  Fort Worth, Texas

New hire: (Just finished his sexual-harassment training as part of the onboarding process.)

HR person: Congratulations! Here’s your certificate.

New hire: So … are you single?

—Ranyah Ghussein, HR generalist, Somerset, N.J.

I can’t cure crazy, but I can document it.

—Kerri Straw, SHRM-CP, senior HR consultant, OmniaHR, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

In order for you to receive the perfect attendance bonus, you must have perfect attendance. You called off 3 times, that’s not perfect attendance.

—Holly Trudeau, HR generalist, WHEMCO Inc., Pittsburgh

I’m your company’s first line of defense. The next is a law firm. I cost less.

—Chantice Cook,  founder, Pathway HR Solutions, Cincinnati

So you are wondering why the employee is doing that. I know, let’s ASK them!

—Amy Stone Scannell, vice president, HR consulting services, OneDigital Health and Benefits, Boston

I’m sorry, I sent 948 reminders. How did you miss it?

—Kimberly Partridge, HR generalist, Talbert Building Supply, Durham, N.C.

I babysit adults.

—Liz Bligan, HR manager, Catalent Pharma Solutions, Philadelphia

I understand you feel picked on by your supervisor. Please understand 

that everything they are telling you to do is BECAUSE IT’S YOUR JOB!!!

—Annie Wiechman, director of finance and human resources, Senior Care Pharmacy, Wichita, Kan.

Document, document, document.

—Sonja Jordan, HR director, T2 Utility Engineers, Pearland, Texas

When you are in the bathroom stall and they say, “Do you have a minute?”

—Ashley King Mills, senior director of operations, North Carolina Bar Association & Foundation, Cary, N.C.


When you’re so good at terminating people that they thank you when leaving your office.

—Cassie Barber, HR business partner, Cincinnati

People are not the least of my worries.

—Hazel Le Gendre, quality assurance analyst, Republic Bank Limited, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago 

Illustrations by John S. Dykes