HR Encyclopedia Contributor

Angela Livingston, SHRM-CP, MBA has nearly a decade of HR experience in high regulated, high tech companies that are Federal Contractors and supported people in other states. She’s worked for an international company with ~20K US employees that did a lot of immigration work, and she’s worked for a company with ~3500 US employees that doesn’t support work visas. One constant is that she’s always working with people empathetically with an eye on integrity.

What words of advice and encouragement would you give to someone just starting out in HR?

My advice for those just starting out in HR is multi-pronged: learn employment law, build your own support network, and learn to analyze data for story telling. It is an opinion of course, but in my opinion you can’t be confident in the advice you are giving if you aren’t well educated in employment law first. You have to be able to pick up on the flags that indicate there’s possibly an employment law element involved without anyone specifically asking you. This doesn’t mean you have to have them all memorized or that you have to become an employment law attorney. It does mean that you need to know when you need to pause a conversation to look up some details, ask other HR professionals, and/or consult with an attorney.

Self-care is not selfish. Build your support network. This should include your family and friends as well as some awesome HR professionals who will understand in depth what you are going through. Sometimes we have to make a decision for the business that we don’t enjoy implementing. Personally, I hate severances for this reason. At some point, you will have an emotionally draining day (or several), and even though you know you did everything right, made all the best decisions, and cared for people as much as you could, you still need to detox that emotional drain. Have a plan and use your support network. HR should be the example of balancing work.

Being able to tell a story with data is a critical skillset for HR these days. This is your ticket to your seat at the table with leaders that are reluctant to buy-in. This is your credibility: to be able to show the reason via facts and statistics rather than asking people to trust your gut. Learn to run the reports and gather data. Learn to analyze it in a fit for purpose manner. Learn to craft an audience-appropriate presentation and be comfortable presenting. Have back up slides prepared for the most likely questions you will receive. Be comfortable enough presenting to high level leaders that you can take their questions on the fly and get back to the core of the presentation without taking more time than was allotted. Learn to be brief yet thorough and persuasive. This is not an easy skillset to acquire and will take time to develop. It is also one that you can continue to hone throughout your career.

There are tons of other things you’ll need to learn, but I believe these three are the first to work on because they will make you the most effective at your role and thus are instrumental to your long term success.

Best of luck to you! Enjoy the journey!

Angela Livingston

Angela Livingston, SHRM-CP, MBA has nearly a decade of HR experience in high regulated, high tech companies that are Federal Contractors and supported people in other states. She’s worked for an international company with ~20K US employees that did a lot of immigration work, and she’s worked for a company with ~3500 US employees that doesn’t support work visas. One constant is that she’s always working with people empathetically with an eye on integrity.

What words of advice and encouragement would you give to someone just starting out in HR?

My advice for those just starting out in HR is multi-pronged: learn employment law, build your own support network, and learn to analyze data for story telling. It is an opinion of course, but in my opinion you can’t be confident in the advice you are giving if you aren’t well educated in employment law first. You have to be able to pick up on the flags that indicate there’s possibly an employment law element involved without anyone specifically asking you. This doesn’t mean you have to have them all memorized or that you have to become an employment law attorney. It does mean that you need to know when you need to pause a conversation to look up some details, ask other HR professionals, and/or consult with an attorney.

Self-care is not selfish. Build your support network. This should include your family and friends as well as some awesome HR professionals who will understand in depth what you are going through. Sometimes we have to make a decision for the business that we don’t enjoy implementing. Personally, I hate severances for this reason. At some point, you will have an emotionally draining day (or several), and even though you know you did everything right, made all the best decisions, and cared for people as much as you could, you still need to detox that emotional drain. Have a plan and use your support network. HR should be the example of balancing work.

Being able to tell a story with data is a critical skillset for HR these days. This is your ticket to your seat at the table with leaders that are reluctant to buy-in. This is your credibility: to be able to show the reason via facts and statistics rather than asking people to trust your gut. Learn to run the reports and gather data. Learn to analyze it in a fit for purpose manner. Learn to craft an audience-appropriate presentation and be comfortable presenting. Have back up slides prepared for the most likely questions you will receive. Be comfortable enough presenting to high level leaders that you can take their questions on the fly and get back to the core of the presentation without taking more time than was allotted. Learn to be brief yet thorough and persuasive. This is not an easy skillset to acquire and will take time to develop. It is also one that you can continue to hone throughout your career.

There are tons of other things you’ll need to learn, but I believe these three are the first to work on because they will make you the most effective at your role and thus are instrumental to your long term success.

Best of luck to you! Enjoy the journey!

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