Guest Post - Leveraging the Age Difference in HR
Monday, June 22, 2009 at 12:04PM
Steve in HR

NOTE - This Guest Post is authored by Ben Eubanks, from the Upstart HR blog.  Ben is a young HR professional with lots of great ideas and boundless energy.  Have at it Ben!


"I want you to know that also I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience." –Ronald Reagan—

I hate to be forced into speaking for new HR people here, but I don’t see many others stepping up to take on the issues facing us today. HR is a tough career nut to crack. Getting in requires experience, and the experience only comes after getting in. It boggles the mind. Want to hear something interesting? I think that HR needs to open its doors to younger candidates. We have some valuable gifts to offer that are not normally seen in an HR department.

We are good with tech, but we don’t know the operations side of the business nearly as well as the veterans do. The veterans may know enough about technology to do their jobs, but the younger folks could probably teach them a trick or two. Both sides of the workforce have a specialty, and they also have an obligation to each other.

The seasoned professionals must teach the business and be open to change.

The newbies must be open to learning the business and propose change.

We’re young, (partially) reckless, and willing to try anything. The employees at Google get 20% of their time to chase innovative ideas. Some of their best products and applications have come from that block of time provided by the company. Sure, giving people the freedom to work one day of every week on their personal projects seems like a risk, but with great risk comes the opportunity for great reward.

We get the reputation of thinking we know everything. I don’t know who’s spreading that idea around, but it’s not true for most of us. Sure, we are great at lots of things, but if we’re going to go through the trouble to get into the HR field, we want someone to teach us how the business works from top to bottom. In recent weeks, I’ve had more than a handful of HR veterans tell me that one of the keys to being successful in HR is to get out of it. By that they mean that a truly successful HR professional will need to broaden his/her focus to see the company as a whole and adapt a human resources strategy to fit business needs.

Young people, are you with me? Stand up and tell it to the veterans in your organization. And to you senior HR professionals out there, I have four words for you straight from my generation. Teach us. We’re waiting.

Article originally appeared on Steve's HR Technology (
See website for complete article licensing information.