Concerned About Getting Fired in HR? Here’s How To Create Your Own Job Security…

by Alan Collins

About a year ago, according to Business Insider, IBM did a round of firings.

Some employees described that round of job cuts as “massive.”

And many HR professionals were whacked.

Nothing is unusual about that.

Frankly, IBM is no different than Hewlett-Packard, Boeing and scores of other big firms who have done recent massive headcount reductions.

However, there was a big difference in IBM’s approach…

According to an IBM Facebook group, IBM cut severance pay to ONE MONTH TOTAL — for EVERYONE — no matter how much seniority they have.  

What this means is that if you have 15 years of service, you get one month of severance pay.  If you have 15 days of service, you get one month too.


Maybe I’m too old school.

But, this kind of insensitivity and frugality is unreal — and beyond brutal.

However, let’s get to the point: what the hell does this have to do with YOU and your HR career?

In a word: everything!

It’s yet another public reminder of what you already know…

Job security in HR is non-existent.  And what security you
have you must create for yourself.


By embracing and following five unwritten HR career rules…none of which should be shocking.

Let’s tackle them one-by-one.

Rule #1:   Realize that you must always be looking.

If your company is in trouble, your risk of getting whacked from your HR day job increases every single day your firm’s financial results continue to disappoint.

That’s just today’s naked reality.

It doesn’t matter if you’re an awesome HR professional.

Great HR people — from new HR managers to directors to experienced CHROs — get canned  every day, often for reasons beyond their control.

So, even if you already have a great HR job, if you don’t have a plan for getting your next HR gig all lined up, right here, right now, at this very moment, then you’re an idiot.

You’re one re-org away from being on the street.

You’re just one job elimination away from being handed your pink slip.

If you go to work tomorrow morning unprepared to leave that afternoon, then you have your head in the sand.  You must always be mindful of the possibility that today could be your final day at your company.

But, of course, you know this already.

Rule #2:  Understand that loyalty is for your family.

Many companies try to foster a family environment to create loyalty to the organization.

And, it would be great if this loyalty were truly a two-way street and was sustainable.

But it isn’t.

And, you and I both know it can’t be, if organizations want to continue to be competitive.

At IBM (just like at Boeing and HP), HR jobs can be removed in an instant…without notice, if the company concludes that the role (or you)  doesn’t enhance the P&L — even if you’re a loyal member of the corporate family.

Again, whether you or I agree with the principle of this really doesn’t matter.

What matters is that it happens, and YOU shouldn’t let things get to that point.

By being too loyal to your company, you wind up being disloyal to those who matter most – your immediate family.

Yes, I know.  This isn’t anything new.

Rule #3:  Have your resume ready to go at all times.

Some HR people let their resume and their LinkedIn profile get woefully out of date when they’re not looking for a job.

That’s insane.

These two assets are your insurance policies and your best marketing tools.

You never know who will come across them (or want them) and you don’t want to miss a great opportunity.

Most savvy headhunters do keyword searches on LinkedIn long before cold calling candidates or spending a dime on anything else.

So you want to make yourself easily “findable” – just in case.

If you’re not looking for a new opportunity, do yourself a favor…let recruiters know that AFTER they’ve contacted you.

But keep your credentials polished up and make yourself reachable. If you’re not sure how, here are some suggestions here.

Rule #4:  Relentlessly grow your HR competencies.

Keep your HR skills up to date.

Attend seminars, conferences and workshops.

Benchmark best practices.

Accept work assignments that stretch you.

Get coaching.

Build your leadership capability.

Embrace HR technology innovations and stay on the leading edge of our profession.

Not sure which competencies to build, click here.

Don’t become a dinosaur…you know what happened to them.

Rule #5:  Never stop building your army of supporters.

The best employment security you can create for yourself is having a thriving network of contacts, admirers, supporters and advocates.

These are folks who can speak up favorably for you and refer you to new opportunities…should you find yourself on the street in a hurry.

This means that the absolute worst thing you can possibly do is to get too busy doing your HR day job that you neglect to build relationships outside of your current organization.

Adopt a rule to never let a day pass without doing something to grow or enhance your network, no matter how busy and back-logged you are with work.

Take people to lunch. Put on your calendar coffees, dinners, after-work and networking events.  Follow the strategies I’ve outlined in this article.

It’s 90% likely that your next job in HR will come through your relationships you’ve built.

Again, I know none of this is new to you.

And while much of this probably applies to any profession…it’s ESPECIALLY important for you to pay attention to this because Human Resources folks have a tendency to be impacted more than any other group during these types of mass layoffs.  

So every time you hear of news like this at IBM, it doesn’t hurt to remind yourself that only YOU can create your own job security.

No one else can.

But, of course, you knew that already.

Didn’t you.


Feel free to add your comments on this article below by clicking HERE.

Want to keep that resume polished up and ready so that you’re prepared for your next HR opportunity? Then check out: HR RESUME SECRETS:  How to Create An Irresistible Human Resources Resume That Will Open Doors, Wow Hiring Managers & Get You Interviews! by CLICKING HERE.

About the Author: Alan Collins is Founder of Success in HR, Inc. and the author of a variety of best selling HR books including HR RESUME SECRETS.  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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5 Responses to “Concerned About Getting Fired in HR? Here’s How To Create Your Own Job Security…”

  1. Chickie Says:

    Great read indeed Alan. This happened to me several years ago and now I am always doing step 1 thru 3 and will now implement 4 and 5. In today’s business world loyalty and job security are not as they once were. Thank you again for the great information.


  2. Karen MacRobie Says:

    This advise is true for anyone in any position in any company. The one thing I hear constantly from most of my clients-I wish I had kept in touch with my contacts. It feels awkward approaching someone that I haven’t communicated with in years. This should be a key business skill – it’s not just for job search.

  3. Alan Says:

    Great points Karen well said – agree 100%. Much of this DOES apply to any profession…but it’s ESPECIALLY important for HR folks because they (we) and our function tend to be impacted more than any other function/group during these types of across-the-board layoffs.

  4. Sandhya Singh Says:

    Great to know and reaffirm that these points are extremely important. Especially with Whatsapp and other means to stay connected, we need to keep our network active.

    Thansk Alan for putting this together so beautifully.

  5. Gibson Kepao Says:

    Well Said
    Provide good points here.A reminder to everyone. Not only HR Professionals but other Professionals as well.