When I have discovery calls with potential clients who are looking for an HR writer, they often ask me how I got started in my writing business.
To keep the story short, I share how I spent more than 12 years working under the HR umbrella at Starbucks. My experiences in training and development, as well as ethics and compliance, provided valuable first-hand experience in a corporate HR setting. Likewise, working for an organization that was dedicated to the human spirit and considered employees partners, helped cement my conviction that people are what make a business.
Putting negative experiences to use
To save time I don’t mention the experiences that led me to Starbucks. (In part because those experiences are more years ago than I’d like to admit!) But in a conversation today, I realized those experiences are at the core of why I was drawn to the world of HR. And what led me to become a writer dedicated to the HR marketplace. In my other positions, I had not-so-great experiences related to the people side of the business:
- My “onboarding” at one organization consisted of eight hours of sitting a desk in the hall, reading information stuffed into a 3-inch binder.
- I witnessed rampant workplace bullying, as well as shocking levels of employee theft in another firm.
- A lack of an HR department, policy, or programs (and the accompanying chaos) at another workplace prompted me to create the first ever employee handbook and training guides outside of my working hours.
Simply stated: these negative workplace experiences prior to Starbucks also inform my HR writing. Through these situations, I learned lessons about what is important in a work environment. I learned how not to treat employees. And, I learned the importance of establishing boundaries and policies so people can thrive.
Pouring my heart into the people side of the business
The “learning” experiences I had in those jobs pushed me to find work that allowed me to focus on the people side of the business. I enrolled in a training specialist certificate program at the University of Washington. Nine months later, I had my first interview at Starbucks. While preparing for my interview, I read Howard Schultz’ book, Pour Your Heart Into It.
My jaw dropped as I read each chapter–was it possible for a company to:
- Hold itself accountable to its mission statement?
- Ask employees for their feedback?
- Value people alongside profit?
In my Starbucks interview, I asked the HR manager (who would soon become my supervisor) those very questions.
“Before I was hired,” she said, “I didn’t believe it either. But the answers to your questions are yes, yes, and yes.”
Working with an experienced HR writer
This is what I bring to my clients: awareness of the good, the bad, the ugly…and the great…when it comes to the people side of the business. I know what it is to feel like a helpless employee, and I know what it is like to be a program manager creating HR programs that govern, create, and support a great work environment.
There are many talented writers–in fact I consider many of them colleagues; however, if you want content that will engage and build trust with your HR buyer audience, working with an HR writer who brings years of real-world HR experience is essential. The right writer helps you establish credibility and build trust.
And believe me, in the world of HR–credibility and trust mean everything.