Have you travelled on the “dark side”? Lessons from a diversified HR/recruiting career

Confession time…I have never been and will never be a 30-year employee. 3 years, five years, 10 years…I can hit those milestones. But beyond that, fat chance. My career has been guided by gut and need and not always in that order.

Why by gut? Work should be fun. You should love what you do and where you are and the team of people you work with daily. Why by need? Sometimes you have to put your personal needs, your family needs, first, and take on a new experience that reaps benefits for them versus you.

Recently while interviewing with someone who has been familiar with my work for years, I was asked what made me return from the “dark side” to the Corporate world. To which I said…which dark side?

I have spent time in the vendor and staffing worlds. I have worked for tiny firms and in the Fortune 500. Career-wise, I have more years logged in Corporate as an HR Generalist, Sourcer and Recruiter. 

But a lot of people see the Vendor, Staffing and more recently, my gig supporting temp staffing as the “dark side” of HR and Recruiting.  

Oddly enough, one of my best jobs was on the “dark side” and one of my worst ones was too. But best and worst work experiences aren’t exclusive to the dark side of HR and Recruiting. All work experiences have value, something is learned from each one.

Many people tell me I have done my career backwards. Maybe I have, but by bouncing from Corporate to Sourcing Contractor to Vendor employee to Staffing Sourcer to Corporate (Fortune 500 corporate too…), I have experienced multiple HR lives. The work experiences have been rich and incredibly enlightening.

I would not trade that career diversity for anything. So many business lessons from all and a thorough understanding of our world of work. What kind of lessons? Here are a few:

Anything free, is not. 

You are selling your information, and sometimes your HR soul for that freebie. And often, when something is free, the quality of the product is not fabulous. 

You absolutely get what you pay for, so before you sign up for that vendor sponsored webinar, really read the detail. You may be signing yourself up for a never ending email campaign, for a product you may not ever be able to leverage.

Billable Hours teach the value of time. 

Everyone’s time is valuable, and you should leverage yours to the best of your ability. One of the best things I learned in staffing that it was to my advantage to learn how to streamline my work…to be better, smarter, more efficient. 

If I could do my job in less time, the profit margin increased.

Be a Presenter, and a Networker. 

These two don’t go hand in hand on the dark side of HR/Recruiting. 

Vendors, actually anyone selling anything, are always keen to present. Presenting can often tie into networking, and networking is king.

You can do only so much online, face-to-face connecting makes all the difference in the HR world. If you want to further your career, whether now or five years from now, start presenting.

Scope is important. 

Work for small companies, and for large. 

It is important to understand how large companies work and the decision making process. It is also important to see that often small firms can be more agile, and empowering in the decision making process. 

Both have pluses and minuses and having the opportunity to work in both gives you an understanding of how work gets done that not everyone has.

Variety lends insight. 

Vendor or Staffing or Corporate entity….all these experiences provide deep, well rounded insight into the world of work. It gives the opportunity to understand what is driving the requests put upon you.

How you treat people, no matter who they are, is important. 

Be kind, because you may cross paths again, maybe as interviewer and interviewee or client and vendor. You never know…

Can you look back at your career without regret? Leverage lessons learned to determine what you will tolerate and what is a deal breaker with your employer.

It doesn’t matter if you are on the dark side or elsewhere in the world of HR/Recruiting, what is truly important is how you leverage each and every experience to bring your best to your next role.

Cover image: Shutterstock

This article first appeared on Fistful of Talent blog on 12 Sep 2019.

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