HR Vendors vs. HR Practioners

Intermingling between HR Vendors and HR Practioners.

Sleep exhausted and jet lagged As I wait to catch my flight home from HR Evolution, I’m writing this. Once more, it was an amazing event, and it was wonderful to see both old and new friends. I’m participating in HR Evolution for the third time. The interaction between HR vendors and HR practitioners is what I enjoy most, in addition to the extremely honest and open communication.

Typically, HR vendors pack the hallways on the vendor floor to promote their newest offerings. asking for your contact information in exchange for inexpensive breath mints. Many times, these vendors cut off the conversations and discussions that make up the sessions and post-session conversations of the typical attendee. Sometimes by choice, but frequently as a result of the amenities that a typical conference provides.

Granted, I don’t think that any attendee at a conference like HR Evolution is average, and neither is HR Demo.  Both conferences allow for fun, conversations, but serious business is done amongst the shadows, technology, and between cocktails.  Yup, it is that kind of place.

Now, you may remember my conversation about how I believe we’re all hr vendors,and I still believe we are.  But for a moment, let’s set aside my debate and talk about the HR Vendor and their role with the human resources community — consulting firms and corporate HR types in the trenches.

At events like HR Evolution and the upcoming HR Demo which I am attending as a member of their blog squad May 24-26th in Vegas, the conversations are less about the hard sell and more about relationships that lend to vendor and solution-based discussions.  Because let’s be honest, when it comes to most HR Vendors, they come off salesy, abrasive, with no background running a recruiting desk or HR team.

These conferences, including HR Evolution and HR Demo, provide demonstrations, conversation, and discussion. removing obstacles. Relationships and trust grew. More dialogue and conversation; fewer pushy sales techniques. I’m eager to attend occasions like these because of this. HR personnel can communicate openly and freely with manufacturers of social media monitoring software or SaaS rivals. Getting past the fluff and into the talks that matter. And conversations where the goal is to have a chat rather than reach a monthly goal.

HR Vendors vs. HR Practioners

Because let’s face it as a HR practitioner we need vendors.  I can’t process payroll myself and I sure as hell don’t want paper job applications.  I want solutions, and I need them now.  Because processing payroll with Excel spreadsheets and Quickbooks are so 1994.


FTC Disclosure: I received compensation in the form of  travel accommodations and conference access  for mentioning HR Demo as a member of the conference blog squad in the above blog post. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.

Reader Interactions


  1. Lyn Hoyt says

    Alas I had a laundry list to “go deep” on with you at HRevolution. I know we will get the chance soon. At least we could wave and say hello. Thanks for this post. It has taken a lot of time for my staff (and even myself) to understand that this unconference is not about the sales pitch. They no longer ask how many leads I brought back. Thank God. Probably why it is the most enjoyable conference I attend all year.

    There are so many layers that give back when I am actually attending and not running my booth on the expo floor. I have more blog content than I could ever have time to write (SEO). I love promoting others. I love being involved in this industry. Participating helps me give back some of my marketing expertise. Being with the industry I sell to helps me better understand trends and what is really important. It is easy to participate. It is fun.

    What my sales staff is starting to understand is that there is plenty of content online if someone really wants to find out what I am selling. I don’t have to run a pitch up the flag pole. I feel the permission-based ad model exists in some way in an off-line form to build relationships that drive curiosity to find that information. And when you find it you will either say “oh wow” or “yuck”. I hope “Oh wow” will remember me when they need my services. Yuck is not a good fit. But, at HRevolution we can be friends, talk about our families, drink wine and help with each others blogs. Maybe even smoke a hooka? Relationships are what is valued. As a vendor, my job should be to figure out how to support the change we all want to see in HR. I look forward to more conversations on this!

    • Jessica Miller-Merrell says

      So true Lyn. I’m glad I got to see you. We do need to catch up because I see some HR Bacon domination in our future. Glad to see some HR Vendors are coming around. I think events like HR Evolution make it easier to make the case for that.

      Talk to you soon and thanks for the comment.


  2. Frannyo says

    Jessica, I’m curious. Do you see yourself as an HR Practitioner or an HR Vendor? Or a Vendor to the Employment space generally?

    • Jessica Miller-Merrell says

      Good question Franny. I guess I see myself as both. I’m a recovering HR Practioner who now consults with companies. I provide my clients expertise using my experience as a practioner and special expertise to help them.

      I do believe we (everyone in HR whether a true vendor or internal practioner) are all HR Vendors because a HR department is providing a service to their company in some form. It’s a little odd being on the other side of the coin so to speak. I’ve been a corporate HR practioner for so long and to now be the other guy or gal has given me an interesting perspective.

      Of course I no longer have to answer to the man unless we sign a contract. . .




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