Four lessons best learned early in your HR career

Ken Sundheim

As the CEO of an executive search firm for the past 10 years, I’ve dealt with both public and private organizations hiring all levels of job seekers throughout the United States. This also includes recruiting and managing personnel internally.

In that time, I’ve become accustomed to some of the lessons that the most successful HR professionals follow. Whether it be in-house or third party recruiting, here are some of the lessons that the most effective professionals learn sooner rather than later.

Wisdom comes from experience. It spawns from the ability to reflect on events in our lives (both professional and personal) and analyze those situations in a manner that is conducive to us handling those occurrences more effectively the next time around.

Here are four lessons I’ve learned as a HR professional:

1. Try to be reliant on the least amount of people possible, and when you have to be, make sure you rely on the right people. In 99 percent of cases, your co-workers or connections will not go out of their way to make you rich.

Also, when you need something from someone else, it can create tension and lead to resistance—the opposite of the desired effect—among your colleagues. On the flip side, to truly create something great, you must be rely on your colleagues. Bill Gates’s technological genius wasn’t solely responsible for the success of Microsoft; the success also came from his ability to properly choose who he shared his knowledge and know-how with.

2. It’s virtually impossible to make a lot of money doing something you don’t like. Recent studies have shown that monetary reward alone cannot incentivize the best work from an individual. Factors such as passion and creativity must be present in the equation, too. Money can get you Range Rover, but it can’t get your undivided devotion to a career.

When devotion is not present, even an extremely high IQ won’t make a difference. When you love what you do, paychecks come naturally.

3. People will only want to help you out when you act in a selfless manner, but it’s not that simple. Consider this: Corporate America can be a very cold place to work or sell into if you’re an entrepreneur. In general, if others believe that you are taking any particular action solely out of self-interest, they will shy away.

Attempts to be selfless—being overly compassionate and concerned about others— can be conceived as a sign of weakness in the corporate world. When perceived weak, people are also unlikely to go out of their way to help you accomplish your goals.

The most successful individuals are able to play a sincere balancing act between coming across as aloof to others’ needs and being too concerned with assisting co-workers.

4. Networking is useless if you don’t possess any skills of interest to the other party. I think that LinkedIn will be the first of the big social media sites around today to fail. In theory, the site is great - a Facebook for professionals who want to connect and help each other out. In reality, the premise that people will assist each other just for the sake of it, is a flawed thesis.

LinkedIn has already found that decision makers don’t spend much time on the site anymore because they’ve found everyone wants to "network" with them strictly for their personal gain and doesn’t have much to offer.

As the head of a recruiting firm, I have nearly 2,000 connections on LinkedIn. While I get InMails all the time from people asking for jobs or selling something, I don’t think I’ve ever received correspondence from someone who phrased the email in a way which they could assist me.

This deters me from engaging with the majority of them. Effective networking can only take place when there is a mutual respect and mutual gain between the parties involved.

Unfortunately, in life respect is not given out, it must be earned.

Moreover, nobody ever got rich networking. If you truly have a passion for it, I’d recommend considering a career as a politician, instead of attempting to succeed in business.

Ken Sundheim is a writer for Forbes, Chicago Tribune and is the CEO KAS Placement Sales Recruiting, an executive search firm based out of New York City assisting business development and all types of marketing professionals connect with some of today’s most innovative employers.