HR at Home–A Guide to Advising Friends & Family

Corey Burns Career Advice, Coaching, Communication, Compensation/Cash Money, HR, Resumes, The HR Profession, Training and Development

When I chose to march down the HR career path, I didn’t anticipate I’d become the “go-to” for all HR and career-related questions from family and friends. Don’t get me wrong, it’s as a privilege to be someone that family and friends can lean on in this area. But while it’s a privilege, it can be exhausting and quite tricky to navigate. Over the years, I have played the role of the resume writer, salary negotiation guide, family mediator, and career coach–just to name a few.

Just like any role, my ability to navigate these situations has evolved with time and experience.

But what works in a professional setting doesn’t always work the same way with personal relationships. Please note if your significant other is an HR professional like mine, they will know when you are managing a situation like it is work! I know from experience: my wife placed me on a PIP due to the lack of progress with my honey do list!

Here are a few tricks of the trade that I’ve picked up over the years through trial and error.

  1. The first thing I’ve learned is the art of listening. Often when someone comes to me for guidance, I find that listening is all that they need. When you give someone an outlet for their thoughts, they often will lead themselves to the answer or at the very least vent.

    At times, you will need to ask questions to understand the situation but resist the urge to draw an opinion; there are always two sides of a story! However, your relationships are paramount, so it’s important not to judge and to put on the poker face when you may not agree. Instead, ask questions that will help lead them to another point of view.

  2. One of the more common requests is help with writing a resume. Over the years, I have worked on countless resumes on a pro-bono basis and I love it when that person lands the job they have been searching for. At one point, it became so time-consuming that I needed to look at things from a different lens and put a value on my time. That lens reflected what I have learned from having three professional artists in my family. They have mastered the art of explaining to people the time involved, and because of that, it isn’t always free!

    In the event that someone requests my help with a resume, I stick to my close friends and family rule. If they are a close friend or family member, I am all in on helping with their resume. However, when it becomes a “friend of a friend” or someone that may be an acquaintance, I explain the process and time involved in their request. If it’s a simple edit, I’ll be happy to do a quick review, or potentially charge a minimal fee if it’s more than a quick edit. If it’s a total ground up build, which it often is, I will work with that individual on what is a reasonable fee for the time and effort.

  3. My last piece of advice comes from a lesson learned from my inherent nosiness! Being in our role, we become numb to discussing compensation, but not everyone is as comfortable with this. When I am approached to help with a salary negotiation or potential raise conversation, I have learned to first set the stage before asking, “Where are you currently at and where do you want to be”. I explain that we can keep things confidential, and if they would feel more comfortable, we can use fictitious figures or speak in terms of percentages.

Whatever situation you encounter, remember that we inadvertently chose this role and the responsibility of guiding those around us, even outside of work.