What To Say When An HR Recruiter Calls You — The 10 Do’s & Don’ts!

by Alan Collins

As an HR pro, you should always be prepared for recruiter and headhunter calls.

Here’s why…

You can never, ever predict when you might be suddenly thrust into the job market for reasons beyond your control.

The brutal truth is no matter how comfortable you feel currently, the reality is…

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

You are only one job elimination from being handed your pink slip.

You are just one bad new boss away from getting whacked unjustifiably.

Especially as organizations continue
to grapple with the pandemic.

For these reasons, building relationships with headhunters and recruiters should be an important part of your career advancement strategy.

Working with them when they call is a skill you need to master, even if you’re NOT in actively seeking out your next HR opportunity — because there are some terrific HR jobs out there…that you’ll learn about…ONLY through professional HR recruiters.

With this in mind, here are ten do’s and don’ts to say when they ring your phone:

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6 Subtle Warning Signs That It’s Time to Leave Your Current HR Job 

By Alan Collins 

Here’s a quick story a headhunter friend of mine likes to tell about a fictitious fisherman.

As his story goes, this fishing dude had just bought a brand new shiny anchor for his boat.

And as he went forward to tie it to the side of his boat, he slipped and fell overboard.

Suddenly, he’s sitting on the bottom of the river in fifteen feet of water, cradling his new anchor.

He paid a lot for it, didn’t want to let go…but he was running out of breath.

So, realizing his choice was either to drown or lose the anchor, he reluctantly let it go and swims to the surface.

And he lives to fish again.

Not one to waste a good story, the fisherman then shares his near-death experience with his colleagues the next day at work.

Everyone has a good laugh at his expense.

But then he shares something else that stops them dead in their tracks.

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The #1 Secret For Being A Successful HR Consultant, Coach, Speaker or Writer

by Alan Collins

Everyone in HR at some point in their career thinks about becoming a speaker, writer, consultant or coach.

It’s an awesome and potentially lucrative way of capitalizing on your HR expertise — either part-time, full-time or in your spare time.

In fact for the last month, I’ve been posting 30 Great Side Hustles For HR Professionals — many of which include becoming a speaker, writer, consultant or coach.

If this idea has ever crossed your mind too, you’ll find this article especially valuable.

Why?  Because if you ever decide to speak, write or consult, there is ONE secret you must embrace.

I stumbled upon this unexpected revelation years ago when I first launched this Success in HR blog and started coaching others.

When I got going, what I quickly discovered one stumbling block…

It was very difficult for me to talk or
write about anything personal.

So I avoided doing that.

I thought that HR folks were NOT interested in me as a person.

I believed all they wanted was my HR expertise.

And that WAS true. 

Yes, they did want my know-how.   

But that ALONE wasn’t enough.   

I wasn’t attracting a decent number of readers and clients because I wasn’t delivering EXACTLY what they wanted.

So I sought out the help of one of my HR mentors — a former CHRO of two large organizations and now a phenomenally successful HR consultant and coach.

He immediately saw what my problem was.

And he delivered his advice to me with the force of knockout punch right to my face.

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One of These Three HR Candidates Will Be The Next CHRO — Here’s Who Was Picked & Why.

A fictional story with a powerful lesson for all HR leaders.

By Alan Collins

Josh Tindall, a successful CHRO, finally decided that he’d retire in six months.

He discussed his decision with his boss, the CEO, who congratulated him for his outstanding years of leadership in HR — and made one request:

“Josh, we’ve both been through rough times in this organization. However, despite this pandemic, our organization remains strong, profitable and growing.

“You’ve never let me down. So, I’d like you to recommend your replacement. I trust you. And, I know you’ll make a great selection for me, our leadership team and this company.”

Excited about continuing HR’s well-respected legacy within the organization, Josh eagerly agreed.

He knew, however, that the CEO was demanding and picking one person to be his top HR leader would be difficult.

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Playing Politics in HR — How to Master the Game…Without Being a Sleazy, Back-Stabber!


by Alan Collins


Hi Alan,

Is it worth accepting an HR position in a larger company, if that means I have to play company politics?

I hate people who suck up and I don’t believe in being a back stabber.

Here’s my situation. I’ve spent most of my HR career at a small successful start-up tech firm.

Despite the pandemic, I’m now being recruited by a large Fortune 200 corporation with a 25% bump in comp and more perks.

While the opportunity is fantastic, they want to bring me in at a lower level as Senior HR Manager and I’m okay with that (I’m currently the acting HR VP at my smaller company now).

The hiring manager says I’m a clear high potential, but tells me that the corporate politics in the new company can be brutal and cutthroat and I’ll need to master them in order to grow at this firm.

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16 HR Jobs in 25 Years — 50 Golden Lessons, Both Painful & Inspiring.

by Alan Collins

I thought I’d take the opportunity here to share 50 GOLDEN LESSONS I’ve learned from 25 years in the HR trenches.  About two lessons per year.

These are truths I’ve gained from lots of personal screw-ups, some successes, three companies, 16 HR jobs and other HR professionals that I’ve worked with who inspire me.

Yes, some of these you may have seen already, because I share them often.

BUT hopefully, there are a few new items here you might find helpful in managing your own career in HR — without going through all the pain and agony. 

While they are in no particular order, I try never to ignore #50.


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HR Director Fired After “Good” Performance Review — And How To Keep This From Happening To You!

by Alan Collins

Last year, a senior HR director friend of mine was fired after her year-end performance review. 

What was especially brutal was her boss’ overall evaluation of her performance.

She had been rated a “3” on her company’s 5-point scale, which was “good.”

And she was further informed that her performance was “solid” and that everything was okay.

Knowing that, she signed off on the review.

So, she was blindsided beyond belief when she was called back in a few weeks later…and fired! 

To be totally honest, she knew her performance wasn’t stellar.

But she was devastated by this news and clearly didn’t think she’d get whacked.

Matters became worse when she was told by her boss that, after discussing the company’s financial troubles with the higher ups, THEY (not he) decided to eliminate her job.

They agreed she was doing a good job.  But they didn’t feel that SHE…as well as THE JOB she was in..was adding enough value to the business.

Read that last sentence again.

Good performance wasn’t enough.  It wasn’t a performance issue.  It was just time to whack her job.  And her.

And her manager blamed the decision on his bosses.

Yeah, right…

What a spineless, freakin’ wimp!

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