“My ONE True Passion in HR — How Do I Find It? Do I Even Need One?”

Hi Alan,

I’ve read many of your articles and books and I largely agree with most of them.

However, there’s one thing I’m struggling with. I haven’t found my ONE true passion in HR.

I’ve been a HR senior director for over ten years and a generalist so I’m a jack of all trades — and love it.

I also love my team and my organization.

But I haven’t yet found my ONE light switch yet — my ULTIMATE CALLING in HR – that ONE BIG THING I’d like to specialize in or become an expert at.  

Do I need one?

If so, I’d like to find mine.

Any advice on this?


Great questions and thanks for articulating them so well.

Let me answer them, point-by-point:

Point #1:  Why hasn’t it hit you yet?

If you think you haven’t found your ONE passion in HR yet, you’re probably expecting it to hit you all at once, suddenly — like a bolt of lightning from the sky.

Expecting that to happen is like expecting to fall in love with someone at first sight in a romantic relationship.

Sure it happens to some people.

But for others, love and passion with one person develops S-L-O-W-L-Y over time.   Not all of them happen right away.

Such may be the case with finding your calling… or YOUR ONE BIG THING.

Your “passion” or “purpose” or “calling” may not overwhelm you with its presence when it first appears.

So don’t be frustrated if it’s not apparent to you yet.

That’s said, here’s…

Point #2:  Do you need one?

Of course not.

If you like being an HR generalist, jack of all trades, by all means do so.

On the other hand, like that ONE true love, some people get by just fine and dandy without ever finding theirs.

However, here’s my bias.  And this is just me.  I believe that life is much sweeter, fulfilling and passionate when you have that ONE person to look forward to, your one true love that you can spend your days with.

I believe that’s true about your ONE passion in HR as well.

In my case, I’ve worked forever as an HR generalist and will forever deep down consider myself a generalist.  But my specialty now is developing and helping HR folks grow their careers.  Before that, for ten years, my specialty was growing and developing leaders in manufacturing organizations.

Each time I’ve specialized:

These are just a few of the benefits.

As much as being a generalist has benefited me in my career, carving out an area of specialty within it has opened doors, built my credibility and provided opportunities that NEVER would have occurred otherwise.

That’s been my personal experience.  Others may feel or have different experiences.   And that’s okay.

In any event, that brings us to…

Point #3:  What if you truly want to find your ONE thing?

Try this.  Make it a point to start noticing what excites you on a tiny moment-to-moment level…RIGHT NOW!

There are two places to look:

Place #1: 
Look at the specific HR activities you engage in
and how they resonate with you. 

For example:

As a generalist, do you lose track of time or wake up at 5 am because you can’t wait to get started recruiting hard-to-find sales and marketing talent for your clients?

OR…Do you get distracted, play around for hours online seeking out online learning programs you can deliver yourself to the first-level managers in your organization who are crying for help and feel neglected.

OR…Do you feel like Erich Kurchat, who recently said: “There’s nothing else I’d rather be doing right now after discovering the DiSC personality tool during my corporate HR days. Now I equip, companies, coaches and consultants with the education and materials they need to leverage the DiSC assessment with their stakeholders.” Erich has now built a small business around this tool 12+ years later.

All of these may be indicators that, as an HR generalist, there’s one area within HR you’re passionate about.

But that’s not all.  There’s also…

Place #2:
Look at the ONE target audience
or group of clients that excites you most.

For example, as an HR generalist, are you MOST turned on working with any ONE of these populations:

Sales organizations
Customer service professionals
CEOs and C-suite executives
Job seekers
HR leaders and professionals
Small, non-profit organizations
Brand new start ups
High-tech professionals
Front-line employees in factory locations
…Hundreds of other homogeneous or like-minded groups.

Both of these two places — Place #1 and Place #2 — can provide clues as to your passion. 

What’s important here is to look for the following:

1. Flow: If you lose track of time while doing or thinking about something, you’re often in a state of passion.

2. Failure: If you find yourself persisting despite experiencing failures, then you’re passionate about what you’re doing.

3. Free: If you go above and beyond in doing something without regard for being paid for it, then you may be passionate about it.

4. Distraction: If you pay attention to those things that constantly distract you, it could indicate that that’s something you’re passionate about.

5. Against the Grain: A passion is something you’re drawn to even when your clients or boss aren’t.  If it’s something you’d like to do even if it’s not popular, that might be a passion as well.

6. Irritation: Everyone has a short list of things that really annoy them when done poorly.  If they annoy you too that could be your clue that it’s a passion.

So tune in, listen carefully for these cues.

Here’s the bottom line…

Take some time and find out where your HR passion lies.  Don’t chase it.  Let it find you.

If you find something that brings you joy, why not DATE IT for awhile.  Let that be a PASSION that drives you right now.

And figure out a way to do MORE and MORE of it. See if it works for you.

You may fall in love with it.

Or you may not.

If so, that’s fine.

Seize them as they come… and run with them.

And let that particular one inspire you and be your calling for…right now…recognizing that you may have 5 or 6 passions in your HR career.

That’s just my take.  

What’s yours?  Please add them in the comments below by clicking HERE:



Want EVEN MORE detailed, real-world, un-sugarcoated strategies for accelerating your career in Human Resources?  Then check out:  UNWRITTEN HR RULES: 21 Strategies For Attaining Awesome Career Success in Human Resources.  Get more information by going HERE.

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

Feed your network: If you like this article, feel free to share it with your Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and E-mail contacts by clicking the buttons below…

4 Responses to ““My ONE True Passion in HR — How Do I Find It? Do I Even Need One?””

  1. Chuck Imhoff Says:


    When I was in Corporate America I always felt “the broader the better”, however you should have at least one function of HR that you should have strengths….Talent Acquistion, Training, Comp & Benefits, etc.

  2. Alan Says:

    Well said, Chuck. I took a similar approach as you in Corp America…HR generalist, but with a specialty in Learning & Development. Thanks for the share. -Alan

  3. Linda Peterson Says:

    Hi Alan,
    Wonderfully laid out Alan! While talented generalists exist, the HR job seeker is best served by having a STAND-OUT specialty which sets them apart from the masses!
    On Your Side,

  4. Alan Says:

    Linda, appreciate the feedback. Thrilled the idea resonated. Hope you are well.