How HR’s Most Misunderstood Buzzword Can Jack Up Your Income in HR…

By Alan Collins

There are lots of buzzwords in HR.
“HR business partner.”
“A seat at the table.”
“Go-to person”

You know the list.

But In my humble opinion, “ADDING VALUE” is the most misunderstood one of all.

Why? Because unlike the others, there are a thousand different interpretations of it.

To illustrate, I’m sure you’ve heard your boss or colleagues say:

“Jill, you need to add more value to the team.”

“Jamal, that new talent acquisition program has really added value.”

“Morgan, the Marketing group would like to see HR add more value.

These statements are tossed around in HR as much as footballs thrown by Tom Brady. Yet, I’d bet you dinner at the best restaurant in Chicago that you couldn’t get five HR people in a room to agree on what they REALLY mean.

Nevertheless, “adding value” is an important concept.  And it’s crucial that you know what it means and how to become known for it.

In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that if you earn a reputation as someone who can truly can add MORE value…

You will make MORE money,
as long as you’re in HR.

I know that’s a bold statement.  So let me clarify it.

Let’s start by covering what adding value really means. And let’s keep this simple.  There are at least three ways to do it. 

1. Solve more problems.
2. Provide more solutions.
3. Help move your client’s business forward.

That’s about it.

Okay then, what kind of problems should you be solving?

Another simple one.

Solve those problems that keep your clients from GETTING THE RESULTS they want or that they COMPLAIN about most.

For example, are your clients struggling with:

If so, then this is what you do next:

  1. Pick ONE vexing problem they face (example: retaining high-producing sales people).
  2. Put a metric to it.
  3. Then get to work helping them improve that metric (example: retaining X% MORE high-producing sales people).
  4. When you’ve improved that metric, you’ve added value.

Read over those four steps again, because this is what ADDING VALUE is all about. 

This is the REAL definition.

Nothing else.

Don’t over-complicate this.

Here’s the bottom line:

On this last point, if you’re really adding value and want to ensure that you stay marketable and in demand for HR roles that will pay you more money, there’s one final step you should take…

Put time on your calendar every six months to update your resume by documenting the NEW value you’ve added.

For example, if you’re an HR director, it means adding a statement like this one to your resume every six months…

“Led two new culture building initiatives in the IT group which improved their culture survey results by 25%. IT turnover also dropped from 12% to 6% and IT overtime costs went down by $1.2 million or 4%.”

Or this one, if you’re an HR manager…

“Executed a robust Sales Employee Referral Program that improved referrals to 13% of total hires.  This also resulted in a lower cost-per-hire for sales reps and $325,000 in savings for the first year.”

Or this one, if you’re an HR VP…

“Helped lead a massive re-organization which consolidated 6 North American supply chain organizations into one single centralized group – generating $19.5 million savings. Served as the HR leader on the executive design team”

Or this one, if you’re a Total Rewards leader

“Co-led the task force that redesigned the incentive bonus plan for a disgruntled New Products Innovation Team. The new program was well-received with a 92% satisfaction rate among the key talent, improved their retention by 21% and contributed to launch to three new breakthrough products in one year.”

These are REAL, quantifiable and measurable VALUE ADDED achievements!

These are also the EXACT kinds of clear accomplishments that will enhance your attractiveness to recruiters and increase your financial worth in the marketplace.

If you’re able to add these types of powerful statements to your resume every six months or so, you’ll go way beyond the tired old “value added” buzzword — and you won’t have a problem earning more in HR…because the opportunities to do it will find you!

And you’ll build lifelong employability and relevance in the marketplace as well.

Try it.


Would welcome your feedback.  Please add your comments below by clicking HERE.


Want to discover EVEN MORE ways to build your value and win BIG in Human Resources right where you are, then check out: WINNING BIG IN HR: 100+ Powerful Strategies For Accomplishing Great Results Faster & Getting Your Clients To Rave About You As A Human Resources Professional!

For more details, go HERE. 

About the author: Alan Collins is Founder of Success in HR, Inc. and the author of a variety of best selling books for HR professionals WINNING BIG IN HR.  He was formerly Vice President – Human Resources at PepsiCo where he led HR initiatives for their Quaker Oats, Gatorade and Tropicana businesses.

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2 Responses to “How HR’s Most Misunderstood Buzzword Can Jack Up Your Income in HR…”

  1. AL Gayle Says:

    Alan, I’ve been receiving your HR information for a number of years when I was in the Army. I just completed my degree in HR and studying for HR certification. My biggest obstacle now is getting into an actual HR position with the federal government, whom I currently work for. After numerous job submissions, I’m hearing the reason for non-selection is not enough HR experience. Good thing is they recognize my HR experience. I’m exploring ways to increase HR experience to fill those gaps. Thanks for everything.

  2. Alan Says:

    Hi AL. Thank you for your service and congrats on getting your degree in HR. Wish you much success in getting your certification. Thrilled you’ve found the articles of value. Be well.