Six Things That Happened When I Quit Human Resources

Two years ago I quit my job as an HR Director.

I don’t want to go back. At least I don’t think I want to go back. I don’t think about it all to be honest. And the profession probably wouldn’t take me back anyway. Not at this point. Two years away in the real world is is like fifteen years away in Human Resources.

Maybe you’re in HR, and you hate your job. Maybe you tell yourself you hate your employer and another company would make you happier. Or maybe you’re wondering why the heck you ever chose Human Resources, and you want to change your field entirely.

If the latter is you, read the rest of this article. Everyone else, take a nap. Just kidding. Keep reading. I’m selfish and like the attention.

6 Things That Happened When I Quit Human Resources

Here are six things have happened since I left HR. Some are glorious. Some? Not so much.

1. You find out who your work friends are. Quickly. This happens quickly

Ouch. This one really blows.

You can’t call anyone you used to work with and complain about the place you just quit like a normal ex-employee. You have to suck it up, and hopefully someone will reach out to you and see how you’re doing.

Two people were really my friends. I thought there were a couple hundred. Boy, was I wrong!

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Your worst HR fear is true.

Work people are only nice to you to suck up and keep their jobs.

2. You could care less about Obamacare regulations

I can’t even remember the names of the forms I needed to fill out all the time. I have no clue. I barely remember what ACA stands for. I don’t even care!

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If someone is talking about being a Democrat in my Facebook timeline, my immediate reaction is no longer to rant about how President Obama is ruining this country with healthcare reform.

I was so lame, you guys! I can’t believe I have any liberal Facebook friends left.

And dare I say that I, myself, am becoming more liberal now that I don’t work in HR? I do dare to say it. I do.

It’s wonderful.

3. Did SHRM change the way certifications work? #LongHairDontCare

No, really. I saw some of you being super upset with SHRM about a year ago. Did something happen? There’s a new certification process? What happens to the old certifications? Do they still count?

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THAT TEST WAS HARDER THAN THE BAR EXAM! (Or so they say.)

Literally no one knows what SPHR, PHR or SHRM means in the real world (except for HR people and their bosses). SHRM never comes up. Ever. Trust me. I’ve tried to bring it up, and people look at me weird … like I’m slurring.

“Did you shee what’sh going on with SHRM? Everyone sheems sho upshet.” 

I truly loved speaking for free at these conferences, where everyone dished out thousands of dollars and got HRCI credits for listening to me.

This seems like really odd behavior, two years later.

4.  Speaking of #LongHairDontCare, you may die it purple for a hot minute

When you’re no longer the moral beacon of your company, you go a little nuts.

Picture yourself with the stupid employee handbook. The one you probably wrote. Light it on fire. Throw it out the window.

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I died my hair purple (which actually stained my clothes and made me feel self conscious around clients).

You’ll do something crazy – something you couldn’t do before because you were the rule maker. You’ll have an identity crisis. This is part of leaving HR.

5. You work more hours

This sort of sucks.

It’s to be expected when you restart your career path. You have to work your way up again. For me this means building a business from the bottom up.

Until I let go of control and trust that we are running strong as a new company, I will work crazy hours. Entrepreneurs, does this ever stop?  Paid vacation? What’s that?

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Start-ups are no joke.

6. I found my passion and piles of money

My mother gets really mad when people ask me how my business is going and I reply, “Oh my gosh! So good! I have amazing clients! All word of mouth! And I’m getting SO RICH!”

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My mom says it’s tacky to add the SO RICH part.

I’m “new money,” not “old money.” I really have no idea how to navigate a healthy six-figure income, people on my payroll, and amazing clients… other than to be really excited about it. I want everyone who cheered me on and helped me to be excited, too.

I was really tired of making the same crap salary year after year and begging for raises. I was sick to death of firing people. Talking about employee benefits all day was boring; and I couldn’t listen to one more person complain to me about their job, or I would scream. I hated my job, too.

So I did something about it.

And amazing things began happening.

If you think you should quit HR, you probably should.

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Meredith Soleau

Meredith Soleau is the CEO & Founder of 424 Degrees. It's a super hot social media & recruiting agency. She lives in Toledo, Ohio with her stud of a husband and three highly intelligent children. You can find her personal humor blog at www.meredithsoleau.com. Her glorious hair is second to none. Truly. It's stunning. She often brags about her life in third person, sort of like this.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. AvatarMaria says

    Brilliant am having an HR crisis too
    Made me laugh out loud
    Seriously. My therapist has more HRD and HRM clients sitting in front of her than any other profession
    That’s got to be a sign right?!

  2. AvatarLovie says

    So you left HR and started a recruiting agency? That’s great if you’re happy. But you are still technically in HR.

  3. AvatarCrystal says

    Your post has really made me continue to question what I am doing with my life; however, I have no idea what to do with my career. HR can be so overwhelming!

  4. AvatarAlyssa says

    Wow! I too work as an HR Director. I have a master’s in HR and still feel like I picked the wrong career everyday. I may be good at it but it has taken a toll on my health due to all the stress it brings. I work long hours while preaching work life balance to everyone else. Ha!

  5. AvatarTiffany A. says

    Timeless article that made me laugh, smile & feel less alone. Plus Tim Sackett (my fave HR dude) commented! But thank you for the humor. Been in HR for about 4 years officially but around it for much more and although I’m good at it , it frustrates me so much. The lack of ownership & just trying to get people to see things how they are rather than how they should/could be always makes me cringe. I’m definitely on the road to getting out but its hard to leave what you know so well. I’ve been trying to revamp my passion & find a niche but at 33 my biggest question to myself is, “Do you really want to do this or are you just trying to salvage what you can from a sinking ship?” But I’ve definitely come to the conclusion that although this is what I’m good at, it is not what brings me joy outside of my own head.

    • AvatarSuzette says

      I know your comment is a year old, but this is exactly where I am in my HR Career. I am an HR manager, but I have been in the field nearly 10 years. Yes I am good at it, but it is taking its toll on me and is downright draining. At this point, if it paid me enough I’d rather do manual labor than be in HR every day. I’m 37 and I don’t quite know what my passion is for me to pursue it. But I do know Human Resources has just drained me at this point, hence why I am online this evening researching what other field would be transferrable for me…or even just allow me to be an individual contributor for a while.

      • AvatarMichelle Patrick says

        Suzette your story sounds like mine! (I apologize but for some reason this comment box is putting everything in CAPS). I’ve been in my career for about 11 yrs and I am so done with it. I have been stagnate in my career. I’m great at what I do but usually have more knowledge than the people above me and am often blocked from advancement (has been this way for the last 2 hr jobs). THIS LAST JOB, I’M CURRENTLY IN, I HAVE REALLY SEEN THE DARKSIDE OF HR AND IT’S MADE ME DISGUSTED. I know hr professionals are supposed to be agents for the company. to my knowledge and observation, they are often the “do” men and women who sometimes are asked to do things illegally. i have seen and heard things that go against who i am as a person and my faith. i haven’t have a hand in any of the actions but have seen the results. i have been blocked from promotions because i’ve stood up and spoken out against somethings that were unfair or really shady. I don’t have a passion for HR and never did. I just have the education, knowledge, training and compassion for people. i want to transition to something else but i am not sure of my passion. i really want to get out the 8-5 but i am not at a place financially to up and walk away. I am single so I don’t have anyone to support me. I have a strong sense of justice, great at mathematics, communications and some computer programming. I am looking to transition to a new occupation. I have a ba with a double major in sociology and anthropology. i am looking to see what i can do with these career fields outside an 8-5 or start an online business. however, what type business i am still researching and trying to discover my passion. i love helping people and educating people but i’ve discovered being a corporate trainer or tutor doesn’t match my personality. i can be very introverted at times. i would love any recommendations anyone has in what areas i should start to consider in taking a step in a new direction.

  6. AvatarSharon says

    I feel the same exact way!!!! I just quit my toxic HR job. It effected my well being so deeply. Now I’m researching what I really want to do. You are hilarious!! Keep up the awesome blogging!

    • AvatarMarsha says

      Did you locate anything? Im now seriously needing to get out of this drama but unsure what I can transition to

  7. AvatarNicole says

    This is scarily me right now. I don’t want to be an entrepreneur though so whelp drat. What have I done?? Nooooooo…….

  8. AvatarMarsha says

    Too close to home to read all of us feeling like this. 18 years has wore me DOWN and I desperately need a career change or I will end up divorced and friendless…

    • AvatarDiane says

      I AM divorced and friendless – and finally walked away from my HR Director job exactly 17 days ago. The MOST toxic, soul-sucking position I have ever had and I can barely bring myself to apply to another HR position. I have no idea what I am going to do after over 20 years on this career path. GAH! Fortunately I had a ton of PTO accrued (cause who can take a day off EVER as an HR/Payroll department of ONE for 100 employees). Now I have 3 days to figure out my plan, and then about 4 weeks to find a new position.

  9. AvatarDiane says

    I AM divorced and friendless – and finally walked away from my HR Director job exactly 17 days ago. The MOST toxic, soul-sucking position I have ever had and I can barely bring myself to apply to another HR position. I have no idea what I am going to do after over 20 years on this career path. GAH! Fortunately I had a ton of PTO accrued (cause who can take a day off EVER as an HR/Payroll department of ONE for 100 employees). Now I have 3 days to figure out my plan, and then about 4 weeks to find a new position.

  10. AvatarKaren says

    Oh my gosh, I am so happy I found this article – thank you Meredith and others! I’m completely burnt out after being in HR 20 + years. Have never felt like it was a great fit for me. Hate conflict, tired of working for thankless bosses and corporations After a few “position eliminations” I’m always walking on eggshells. Am ready to launch my own career coaching business, but real life keeps getting in the way.

    Best of luck to everyone!

  11. AvatarKate says

    Same! I literally cried on the way to work and on my way home today. I work for a great company and like everyone there (mostly). But HR is a soul-sucking career. 20 years and I’m sooooo bored with it. Grappling with how to transition to something COMPLETELY different as a mid-50 year old single person. The big paycheck is the only thing keeping me stuck and I keep wondering how I can possibly do this for 12 more years until retirement without driving my car off a bridge. At this point in my life I just want to push buttons on a cash register and be very UNimportant…and make 10 times what they actually pay. HA! And there’s the problem!

    • AvatarDee says

      I used to think that it was just the companies I worked for, but after being in several different companies and roles, I now realize HR is NOT what I want to do for the rest of my life. It is soul sucking, no matter how much you love your co-workers and boss, the job itself will wear you out. I wonder if the 12 years I have been in HR have reduced my life expectancy?

      • AvatarRohit says

        For the Company you are a scapegoat or guinea Pig to undertake risky experiments and for employees you are the management untrusted STOOGE. You got to make mgmt and employees happy all the time and in the process gradually reduce your happiness daily. Both sides prefer keeping you aloof for the same reason… “Knows too much”

    • AvatarSUZETTE says

      that’s WHERE I AM AS WELL. I THINK ABOUT OTHER JOBS THAT DON’T REQUIRE THE SAME AMOUNT OF MENTAL ENERGY EACH DAY AND GET A BIT JEALOUS. mY PAYRATE IS THE ONLY THING THAT KEEPS ME GOING IN THIS FIELD EACH DAY…IF IT PAID WELL, I’D GLADY STOCK SHELVES AT WALMART. I HOPE YOU FOUND PEACE OF PURSUED ANOTHER CAREER OPTION.

  12. AvatarJaime says

    I am so glad I found this site. I too, like the rest of these poor souls on here, feel trapped in a toxic career. I have been in HR 23 years this year which actually makes me sick to write. I stay in it for two reasons only: the money and it’s what I have experience in. I have no passion for it and I too have learned that the problem is the field. No matter what company I’ve worked for I still hate being in HR. It’s like a dementor from Harry Potter – it’s this thing that hovers over you and sucks your life force out. But how do I get out and not go broke? That’s the big question.

  13. AvatarMaria says

    Just came across this article -so happy I did. I always thought I was the only one 😉 . Been in HR for the past 20 years and just like everyone else, what keeps me in is the paycheck and the fact that I have no idea what else to do (plus living in Germany, I am aware that I need a separate degree for pretty much any work I want to do.
    I am in my mid forties so it won’t be easy but I would really be keen on hearing about any alternatives. I am curious: Has any one who commented really given up on HR and what did they do eventually?

  14. AvatarBee says

    This is crazy! I feel the same way all of you do and i’ve only been in the field now for about 8 years. i have a master’s in hr and now working as a hr manager has really made me think about my life choices. I wonder what else is out there? where can you make good money and do something that does not make you cry driving to work. I use to love helping people and now i kind of don’t like people…crazy to say that when you work in a field where you have to deal with people LOL!

    • AvatarSuzette says

      YeS! I feel the same way! My friend and I are both HR manager for different companies, she’s the only support that I have to vent to. we both think about our life choices daily. its to the point that I don’t even want to have heavy communication with others when I am not on the clock…I just want peace. when you have so much background in HR, its really difficult to get into another field that pays well.

  15. AvatarMarjorie Chambers says

    Absolutely Miserable in my field

    I am a HR DIRECTOR and i have been in the HR field since 2004 and my career is taking a toll on me. i am a wonderful hard working professional, but i have grown away from the field. I would love to find a career that still allows me to interact with people, but not HR. Once you have been in HR it’s as if you are branded–it is very difficult to find employment outside of the HR field and I cannot afford to leave without having another job. It is awful.

  16. AvatarMelissa Hamilton says

    i’M SO HAPPY TO FIND OUT THAT i’M NOT IN THIS ALONE. i’VE BEEN WORKING IN hr FOR OVER SIX YEARS AND OBTAINING MY mba. i’VE BEEN RESEARCHING WHAT hr PROFESSIONALS DO AFTER QUITTING hr. i HONESTLY, FEEL LIKE i’M NOT GOING TO FIND THE SAME AMOUNT OF INCOME DOING SOMETHING ELSE. ugh! wHAT ARE OTHERS DOING?

  17. AvatarKaren says

    i have used the word soul sucking for years to describe HR so glad to see it is not just me! when you are a one person shop with no professional support like every other manager in the building has because everyone hates to deal with hr (until it gets out of control of course then they need you) it is draining, soul sucking. I also think we have the pleasure of seeing the ugly underbelly of business, how do some of these companies make it? i am currently looking for my out before it kills me, possibly the recruiter route and remotely. i need a detox phase where i am not continually being INTERRUPTED to COUNSEL or asked to do admin asst duties, you want me to that? Ok … while relieved i am not alone i am also sad about it all. life is short and i personally dont want to use my savings on stress related disease when i retire! best of luck all!

  18. AvatarSharon says

    I too feel the same. Im sooo glad that I’m not alone. I am 2 to 5 years from retirement and just don’t think I can do the HR thing any more…I’m mentally and physically exhau5Ted after Being in this field for almost 31 years. My health is suffering and I really need to get out before it totally does me in. If anyone has suggestions, I’m listening.

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