Lisa Rosendahl gets JobShadowed about her career as an HR Manager.  You can find her at www.womenofhr.com.  For full credits on Lisa Rosendahl click here.

What do you do for a living?

I am currently the Human Resource Director for a federal health care facility. I supervise 14 Human resource staff members providing a broad range of day to day and strategic HR services to over 1500 employees, supervisors and managers. I have over 18 years of human resources experience in privately owned and publicly traded manufacturing companies. I am certified as a Strategic Human Resource Professional (SPHR) through the Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI).

How would you describe what you do?

Every day is different. I manage the department, provide advice and technical guidance to facility managers and senior leaders, maintain collaborative working relationships with our union partners and do what’s ever it takes to ensure our delivery of HR services meets our customer’s needs and supports both the facility’s tactical and strategic goals.

What does your work entail?

At its core, my work has a programmatic or technical focus as well as a strategic focus. Technically, it entails staying current on the latest human resources practices, case law, policies, programs and trends. Strategically, it’s using that knowledge and my experiences to develop HR staff members and to work closely with facility leaders to address their pressing human resource issues, i.e. recruitment and hiring specialized staff, minimizing turnover, employee relations and labor relations. I am a certified mentor and am mentoring 3 employees and 1 HR professional in the community.

What’s a typical work week like?

On any given day, I could be developing our strategic workforce succession plan, meeting with an employee who has a question about her pay, reviewing a proposed disciplinary action or a grievance response, developing a position description for a new HR position, responding to a suspense from our network office, listening to a conference call about changes in our hiring process, gathering market data for nurse salary, or reviewing a request for reasonable accommodation.

How did you get started?

My path into HR was a bit round about. I was a Biology major, joined ROTC while in college and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. I served for almost 10 years as an Ordnance Officer before I got out. I interviewed with a paper manufacturer for Logistics positions and at the end of a day of meetings, was offered a job . . . in Human Resources. What? That’s what I said but after spending a few days at a mill to see what Human Resources was all about, I was hooked. I never looked back.

What do you like about what you do?

I like the variety of human resource work. I am an HR generalist so I touch all areas of human resources. There are opportunities to specialize in a specific area such as recruitment, benefits, employee relations or labor relations and it depends on your interests.

What do you dislike?

There is not ever enough hours in a day to get the work done.

How do you make money/or how are you compensated?

Federal salaries are set by the General Schedule and I am paid $101,146 a year with regularly scheduled within grade increases.

How much do HR Managers make?

This varies greatly amongst organizations and HR leadership roles. As a benchmark, HR Director salaries within my agency range from approximately $81,800 to $125,695 and will vary based on locality pay areas where an area with a higher cost of living haa higher rates. Smaller and not-for-profit companies generally will pay lower and larger, for profit companies will pay more.

How much do HR Managers make starting out?

This too varies greatly amongst organizations and HR leadership roles. As a benchmark, starting salaries for HR professional roles leading to HR Manager positions with my organization range from approximately $47,400 – $68,800.

What education, schooling, or skills are needed to do this?

Entry level positions may require an associate’s degree or its equivalent with 0-2 years of experience in the field or in a related area and HR Generalist positions may require a bachelor’s degree in a related area and 0-3 years of experience in the field or in a related area. Although degrees are not often required, they are highly preferred in HR management positions along with 5-7 years of progressively increasing responsibilities.

If you ask HR professionals if HR leaders need degrees, you will different opinions but I vote on the side of yes because the field is becoming much more competitive these days.

I have a BS in biology from Gannon University, an MA in management from Webster University and an MS in the Dynamics of Organization from the University of Pennsylvania.

What is most challenging about what you do?

The most challenging parts of my role today is staying current in the latest happening in HR research, trends and broad reaching issues and being able to successfully address both the day to day activities of an HR office supporting over 1500 employees while planning program, activities and approaches for the future. Federal human resources is extremely complex and it can take 1 year (or more) before an HR Generalist, even with prior HR experience, is proficient in the position foundations.

What is most rewarding?

Leading and managing my staff and being able to take my technical expertise and experiences to assist others in leading and managing their employees.

How much time off do you get/take?

Because of my experience and years of service with my organization, I earn 5 weeks of vacation per year. Typical entry level time off would vary by company and the design of their plans but would generally be 1 week and progress from there based on years of service.

What is a common misconception people have about what you do?

My misconception of HR when first presented with the opportunity in the interview was HR as a bunch of tired people in a back room processing pay raises. “Harry’s been here 5 years, let’s give him a pay raise. Ok, let’s process his pay raise.” So, needless to say, I begrudgingly went to observe HR in action. I was pleasantly surprised when I observed a dynamic, interactive HR department involved with employees, manager, leaders and union official across the facility leading teams, developing programs, solving problems and making a difference. Yes, pay changes were processed but they were automated and there was no tucking HR away in a back room in this organization.

What are your goals/dreams for the future?

I am energized by bringing out potential in others and am taking what I’ve learned through my experiences to groups interested in learning more about leadership, credibility and personal growth. It compliments my day to day work so well and offers me the opportunity to stay actively engaged with HR professionals and organizational leaders from different organizations

What else would you like people to know about your job/career?

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) (http://shrm.org) is the world’s largest association devoted to human resource management. Representing more than 250,000 members in over 140 countries, the Society serves the needs of HR professionals and advances the interests of the HR profession. SHRM has the answer to any question you have about HR.

There is an amazing HR community on line active on Twitter, in LinkedIn groups and through a network of individual and multi-contributor blogs.


Lisa Rosendahl, SPHR is a practicing HR professional with over 18 years experience in leading people, inspiring commitments and managing change. A former Army officer, Lisa has held human resource leadership roles in both public and private organizations and with the Federal government. She writes about leadership, growth and human resources at lisarosendahl.com (http://lisarosendahl.com) and is the editor and co-founder of WomenofHR.com (http://womenofhr.com). Connect with Lisa on Twitter as @lisarosendahl.