7 HR Career Regrets You Must Bury Before This Year Ends…

By Alan Collins

Everyone has regrets.

Especially when it comes to our careers in HR.

We all make mistakes we wish we could take back.

We all have things we wish we could do over.

We all have things we wish we could we could have done differently.

However, as the year of 2022 comes to a close — the year of 8% inflation, The Great Resignation and Quiet Quitting — it’s time to do a reset for next year.

And to do that, here are seven career regrets you absolutely need to bury and let go of right now — before the new year starts.

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Regret #1:
Being in an HR role that
frustrates the living crap out of you.    

Yes, 2022 has been a helluva year.

Especially if you spent it trapped at home in an HR job that bored you — or doing HR stuff that made you miserable, buried your passions and discounted your strengths.

Here’s a simple example.

One of my former HR director colleagues is the best group facilitator I’ve ever seen. He can engage and inspire any audience.  And, would excel in any leadership training or organization development role.

He was imprisoned at home in a Compensation Director’s job where he approved executive job evaluations and analyzed numbers all day long.

What a waste of talent!

He was moved there as a developmental move three years ago.

But he’s been in that job too long and hates it.

Don’t get me wrong. Developmental assignments in HR are the best way to build experience fast.  And, he was happy to avoid being laid off as thousands of his HR colleagues were.

But remaining in a job you’ve outgrown is not fun.

If you’re feeling like a square peg in a round hole in your current HR role, resolve to end that as you move into 2022.

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Regret #2:
Dying a slow death in HR.

Your brain was not meant to soak up all the HR knowledge you need by age 22, and then shut down.

As soon as you quit learning and growing, you will die a slow death in HR.

As soon as you begin to get too comfortable, resting on what you already know, you’ll also start to get stale.

And before you know it, some devious, arrogant little jerk disguised as a one of your colleagues will show up and start kicking your butt intellectually — in meetings, with your clients and in front of your boss. 

And soon you’ll work for this schmuck.

What do you do to ward this off?

Next year, commit to yourself that you will add at least ONE new skill to your bag of tricks.  For example:

You don’t have study like you’re trying to pass an HR certification exam.  But make sure you’re being challenged in picking up this new know-how.

Making a commitment like this will give you a nice refreshing dip back in the deep end of the pool where the big fish in HR swim.

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Regret #3:
Being someone your clients regard
as a worthless HR bureaucrat
who adds no value. 

Let’s be blunt.

You don’t get respect from your business leaders if you only call them or show up when the place is in flames.

Or if you are there to convince them to implement some new time-consuming, valueless HR corporate program they had no input in developing.

If that’s the only time you see them or talk to them, you’re just a bureaucrat.

You’re just “HR.”

Not a business partner.

And you’ll never develop the kind of relationship with them needed to become their trusted advisor and a fixer of problems BEFORE they come up – which is the role they desperately want you to play.

It’s time to let this approach go.  Today.  Right here.  Right now.

In 2023, resolve that you will spend more time with your clients adding value.

When the pandemic subsides, make it a priority to get in the field with them or on their turf when things ARE going well.  Do this no matter if they reside on the next street or in the next time zone.

Get to know them.
Really know them.

That way when you’re faced with the thankless task of twisting their arm to implement that new mandatory time-consuming corporate talent initiative, you’ve got a strong foundation of trust from which to operate.

Another strategy to consider is over-delivering.

Start giving your business leaders 20% more than they expect.  Consistently. And enjoy doing it.

For example: If they were expecting you to deliver three resumes for candidates for their Finance Director’s opening, then do it.  But don’t just do a resume drop.  Go above and beyond by working up a more detailed, bullet-pointed assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate.

These are little things that will differentiate you from the rest of the pack.

And will turn your business leaders and all of your clients into raving fans.

And, it will set your career on fire.

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Regret #4:
Not being the inspirational HR leader
your team wants to follow.  

As an HR leader, the magic formula for winning over your people and creating a team of devoted followers is to give them an inspiring purpose that motivates the crap out them — and regularly look for ways to acknowledge their great contributions. 

That’s the ticket.

For example, if your team just wrapped up a record year of recruiting new talent — despite the pandemic — don’t quickly move on to the next challenge.

Instead, take some time to bask in your victory.

Share the credit with them and give your folks a chance to experience and taste the success.

Treat everyone to a virtual lunch over Zoom.
Let everyone laugh.
Let everyone enjoy the thank you’s.
Be proud, step back and let everyone walk around with the trophy.
Make sure your boss takes time to call them and recognize them individually.

Do this every time you can on major team accomplishments.  This is pure GOLD!

As an aspiring super successful HR leader, your greatest satisfaction should come from seeing the people in your team, department or company succeed.

Everything doesn’t revolve around you.

Be enthusiastic for your team.

Regularly acknowledge their exceptional work.

If you’ve NOT done all this this year, that okay.

Put it behind you.

But make it an important priority for 2023.

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Regret #5:
Not growing your network. 

Don’t worry, most people in your network were just as busy as you were this past year.

But there’s an answer.

Thanks to LinkedIn, you can network for 5-10 minutes each day.  Just like brushing your teeth, if you make online networking part of your daily routine, you’ll find it easier to keep up.

However, if you want to build a real network, it requires doing more.

For example, if someone you want to build a relationship with mentions they’ve had a rough time sourcing IT candidates, you might offer to send them the latest white paper on IT talent acquisition you’ve just come across.

Or you might introduce them to a person you know who has a massive number of contacts in IT.

Offering your help and assistance is a great way to build your network of advocates and supporters.

However, don’t be disappointed if your generosity is not returned immediately.

That’s okay.

Often, the “good karma” you’ve generated almost always yields benefits down the road – from places and people you might not expect.

That’s the way to build successful and lasting relationships in the new year.

In fact…

You can build more and better relationships in TWO MONTHS by becoming interested in other people than you can in TWO YEARS by trying to get people interested in you.

Are you game?

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Regret #6:
Not taking better care of your body.

Recently, I re-learned this lesson when I started working out again and adjusted my diet.

Even though I knew better, I needed my doctor to tell me that I’d gotten woefully out of shape.

I had become overwhelmed by my HR work schedule and convinced myself that I didn’t have time to fit in a daily workout.

He said that was no excuse and I agreed.

So I’ve followed his advice and lost 42 pounds since June!

What does this have to do with your HR career? In a word, everything!  Listen…

Getting in shape, adjusting your diet and physical exercise, of any kind whatsoever, followed by relaxation, will clear your mind and dramatically improve your personal energy and productivity.

It’s a fact.

You are attaching an anchor to your career if you don’t take care of your health.

Abusing your body by smoking, excessive drinking, compulsive eating, sitting for too long—all add up over time.  And they are as bad for your career as neglecting to build your HR competencies and experience.

I know this is a blinding flash of the obvious.

Unfortunately, for others of us in HR, we treat exercise like it’s a choice.

It’s not.

It is now an essential part of building a successful career in HR.

Biking on a Pelaton.
Lifting weights.
Tread milling.
Doing Pilates.

It’s proven. Regular exercise changes your life and makes you more successful.

And frankly, it will also allow you attract more eyeballs at the beach and fit into your skinny jeans.  And that’s not such a bad thing either.

So in the new year, get up earlier…turn off the tube…power off your little handheld text machine.

Relax, not forever.

But just for 30 to 60 minutes each day.  And sweat.  Regularly.  Without fail.

Because it’s worth it.

Finally, let’s wrap up with a big one…

*   *   *

Regret #7:
Not finding time for the
most important people
in your life.

When my son unexpectedly passed away in 2006, my family was there to help me get through the most emotionally painful ordeal I’ve ever experienced.

My family has also been there on those frequent occasions in the past when I got passed over for HR promotions…or got yelled at by my boss…or made stupid mistakes on the job.

They were not there to provide career advice – but to hear me vent and provide emotional support — which was and is just as important.

There’s a theme here.

Your family and people you love play an important role in your success in HR.  Spending time away from them is the price we pay for the long grueling hours trying to get ahead in our careers.

Sadly, I know very few people in HR that get this balance right.  And I include myself in that group.

Join me in committing to do better in the coming year.

It’s not too late to contract with yourself to spend more quality alone time with them. 

Be more available.
Listen to and support them more individually.
Schedule more social and fun events to enjoy them more.

Make it a priority. Put it on your calendar. You don’t want to look back this time next year and say you took them for granted.

If this doesn’t seem pressing to you now, know that it will be one day when they’re gone and you realize you didn’t show them how much you loved and cherished them.

So go ahead start planning to do more of this now…before the year ends.

Again, it’s not too late.

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Here’s the critical bottom line…

This year will soon be history. 

If you have any regrets about your job, your network, your boss, your clients or your family…learn from them and move on.

There’s no bigger waste of your time than doing the same thing over and over every year waiting for something exciting to happen.

Nothing fantastic will occur if you don’t take action to get out there and make it happen.

So make this coming year about success, enjoying the key people in your life…with NO regrets.

To do that, it’s time to bury 2022.

And plan on making 2023
your best year yet!


Feel free to add your comments and thoughts below by clicking HERE.


Want more ideas for having a “no-regrets 2022,” 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 detailed information about this book, go HERE.


If you are an aspiring HR leader or anticipate moving into a new HR leadership role in 2022 leading an HR team, check out.

THE NEW HR LEADER’S FIRST 100 DAYS:  How To Start Strong, Hit The Ground Running & ACHIEVE SUCCESS FASTER As A New Human Resources Manager, Director or VP.

For more information about this book, 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 including WINNING BIG IN HR. and THE NEW HR LEADER’S FIRST 100 DAYS.  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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6 Responses to “7 HR Career Regrets You Must Bury Before This Year Ends…”

  1. Deniece Garcia Says:

    Great read Alan. Needed this reminder.

  2. Alan Says:

    Deniece, thrilled you found it of value. Enjoy the holidays & wish you much success in the New Year!

  3. Jan Maharaj-Sookdeo Says:

    Hi Alan, which of your books do you recommend for someone with only a Bachelor of Arts in Human Resource Management and new to the HR profession?

    Also, can your recommended material be applied to any country or is it USA-specific?

  4. Amy Says:

    Hello Alan,
    I love. this article. I am moving from one HR Director role (after 8 years) to a new HR Director role in a new city and look forward to making a huge impact at my new company.
    Thanks for posting! It is very timely advice!!

  5. Alan Says:

    Congrats on the new role! Wish you much success. Be well.

  6. Gail Sanderson Says:

    Great advice Alan. Sometimes we forget it is about PEOPLE and RELATIONSHIPS and less about policy and procedure. Forge bravely forward and spend time with your clients. Get to know them personally. Same thing goes with your boss. This is not easy but worthwhile if you can break through and find value in the relationship!