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John WJohn Whitaker is a Senior HR Talent Acquisition Professional who thrives on problem-solving, team-building, and claiming the domain of “change” for the Human Resources organization.

His last 20 years of experience include roles in Workforce Planning, Organization Design, and creating People Strategies in successive levels in HR leadership roles. Including 3 years in a consultative role creating Change Management Initiatives that directly impact corporate talent.

His blog, HR Hardball is creating a new way to communicate and engage with a large HR audience.

John is also a featured writer on “Fistful Of Talent“, where his posts primarily focus on change, change management, uncertainty, and the impact these conditions have on employees, retention, and their respective leadership. 

You can follow John on Twitter here, find him on Linkedin here, and read some of his thoughts on human resources on both his blog here and Fistful of Talent here

1. Most job postings cite “X” years of relevant work experience and specific education criteria as requirements to be considered for the position. With this in mind, what prior work experiences and degrees/certifications/training helped prepare you for your current role?

I’m of the opinion that every experience has prepared me for my current role.  My sales background helped me as an HRBP for sales orgs; my HRBP exp helped me develop consultative skills, which eventually led to my career in a consulting role; my consultant experience taught me to become a self-taught social media proponent; that experience has now helped me in a staffing contract for a company continuing to examine new ways to attract the best talent. It’s all for a purpose, that’s the only way to think about it.

1B. What (if any) additional knowledge or skills that you don’t currently have would make you even better at your job?

I still kick myself in the butt for not taking Spanish seriously enough while studying in my undergrad. I have no doubt in the value of being proficient in multiple languages; hoping my kids will learn Mandarin.

2. Some jobs require the incumbent to be very analytical. Others require one to be a strong communicator, and others still require traits like patience, the ability to multitask, self-directedness, comfort with ambiguity, and exceptional attention to detail. Are there any behaviors and/or attributes that you would say are essential to performing the work that you do?

I’ll go a little deeper – the behaviors that are essential to me performing at a high level regardless of the role ~ Risk-taking, Likeability, Innovation, Influencing Skills, and Stress-tolerance.

3. Jobs guru Lou Adler says there are only 4 job types of jobs in the world (producers, improvers, builders, and thinkers). Which type of job are you in?

I’m a thinker, but I’m in a producer role right now ~ sometimes I need to consciously stop thinking and start completing.

4. Does your job involve either directly or indirectly supervising or managing people? If so, how many direct (or indirect) reports do you have?

Yes, a matrix of indirects ~ fluctuates, but usually about a dozen people.

5. How does what you do impact the business? Think complexity (different types of impacts) and scale (degree of impact). Put another way: Who and what would be impacted if your job wasn’t being done well, and why would it matter that they were impacted?

I’d like to think I impact all the clients with whom I work; I tend to get called upon to handle situations that are already emotionally “hot,” so I act as a “cooler” to allow rational thinking to prevail. I add perspective to the situation, prioritize, remove the emotional attachment, and believe in the outcomes. Without me, I’m sure there would be a lot of emotional fracking left unchecked.

6. Is your job safe? Rate its safety on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being “seated all day in an air conditioned vault” and 10 being “I’m an astronaut going into space”. If your job isn’t safe, what working conditions (specifically) make it hazardous?

The most dangerous part of my job is air travel, so let’s give it a 2.

7. Is there anything I missed that people should know about your job? Is there anything else you want to say about what you do?

I guess it depends on the audience, but for younger professionals in Human Resources I would share this; the wildest successes I have had in my professional life have all materialized when I took a chance. Stretch your comfort level, stick your neck out, be the person who says the “unsaid” comment, handles the unmanageable issue, tackles the project that is guaranteed to fail. Worry less about the risk involved, and realize the sun will come up in the morning either way – why not make a bet on your own success?

As always, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.