15 Secrets HR Departments Never Tell You

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Did you know that not every single office’s human resources department is filled with honest, professional and dedicated individuals? It may be a shocker to you, but many HR professionals and hiring managers are consumed by stereotypes, unfounded conclusions and deceptive practices. 

Although HR departments must adhere to their federal, state/province or municipality’s labor laws, HR managers don’t necessarily have to reveal what they’re thinking or how they pick and choose job applicants. There are many secrets inside HR departments that they will never tell you. 

Everything from having connections to your length of unemployment, there are numerous aspects that HR departments are concealing from you. In other words, if you’re passed over for a job or you have been let go, there’s always another reason than the one they’ve provided you with. 

Indeed, the world of human resources can seem like a soap opera, Greek tragedy or 1930s melodrama. 

Here are 15 secrets HR departments will never tell you:

1. Long-term unemployment hurts you

If you have been unemployed for more than six months then be prepared to be jobless for a lot longer. Hiring managers tend to feel that you are unemployable if you’ve been out of work for that long and will often toss your resume into the bin. 

2. HR managers will always pick the person they like best

Let’s say that you are in contention with at least seven other people. The HR department decides to conduct a test to see which candidate does the best and is the most abled person. You score at 95 while all of your competitors scored under a 90. It doesn’t matter. HR managers will always pick the person they like best - in some cases, they fix the scores so they can select the applicant they liked the most. 

It’s usually about connections!

3. Your age plays a great deal

The Great Recession has hurt a lot of people in their 50s and 60s. If you’re a jobseeker then be sure to delete the year of your graduation from your resume. It’s best you try to conceal your age from the interviewer as much as possible. Remember, asking for your age is oftentimes illegal.

4. Avoid talking about your family

Indeed, it is illegal to discriminate against individuals who happen to be married or on the verge of having kids. However, hiring managers can usually find out this information illegally by having personal conversations or asking simple questions. If they find out that you’re having a child in the next couple of months or you have seven kids then they’ll pass you over. 

5. Personal hygiene and appearance counts

HR departments come to a conclusion on each person they interview within the first 90 seconds. So, this means before they even ask you the first interview question they have already decided they will pass you over. How can they do this? Your personal hygiene and appearance. If you’ve just come from the gym and you have body odor, or if you sport pink hair with black nail polish then they likely won’t hire you. 

6. 'They made me do it (I swear!)'

A member from the HR department has asked you to come into their office to inform you that you are being fired. They will often say that they didn’t want to do it but they made them do it. Who’s they exactly, we don’t know. In most cases, this is a lie. A lot of HR professionals say this is a fib because they don’t want to admit that it was their decision to let you go. 

7. Do not be yourself

The old recommendation for jobseekers is to always be yourself. This could be considered as terrible advice. If you have quirks, foibles and idiosyncrasies that will rub the interviewer the wrong way then they will pass you over for the job. Instead, just stick to your skills, experience and what you can bring to this company. 

8. What you post on social media will hurt you

For some reason or another, today’s generation of workers don’t think what they post on social media will hurt them. Hiring managers know a lot about you based on what you post on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. If it’s sexist, controversial, political or racist then you won’t be asked to come in for an interview or you’ll be fired almost immediately.

9. Big business is watching you

No, you’re not being paranoid. Big brother, or in this case big business, is watching you. They’re watching how you interact with your colleagues and clients, how you spend your time at your desk, how many calls and emails you receive and pretty much anything else. It may not look like it but all of the higher ups are paying close attention to you. 

10. Your handshake will be judged

Do you have a weak handshake? HR will say that you’re not fit for the job right away. Do you have a ninja grip handshake? HR will say that you’re not fit for the job right away. The happy medium is a brief, three- to five-second handshake that isn’t timid or something out of a Bruce Lee movie.

11. Yes, your weight counts, too

Similar to the handshake, your weight can be a no-win situation for you. If you’re obese then you’ll be viewed as someone who is lazy. However, if you’re too skinny then you’ll be depicted as someone who is both weak and lazy - some may resent you for it! In order to get a job, at least in the eyes of HR, you have to weigh around the average weight of your country, province/state or city or perhaps the workforce. 

12. Companies don't act as charities

If you’re behaving like Willy Loman and telling the interviewer you need this job because you’re going to lose your house, car, kids and/or spouse then HR will immediately decide you’re not the right one. Remember, businesses aren’t charities, and hiring managers don’t act like volunteers. 

13. Pink slips while pregnant

Again, it is illegal to fire a woman who is pregnant. However, businesses can be slick about the whole thing. Let’s say that you’re in your fourth month on maternity leave and there’s a restructuring going on at the same time. The company can let you go and claim it’s part of a wider restructuring process to tighten their belts and become a leaner machine. 

14. HR hates inter-office relationships

There is no doubt that sometimes the office can be a sappy romance or an episode of "Saved by the Bell." HR hates this. They don’t want to get involved if Sally is dating Johnny, but Johnny is having a fling with Stacy. It makes their eyes roll and adds another pile to their workload. It’s always best to avoid inter-office romances as much as possible and focus on your work. 

15. Don't bring up issues in the bathroom

Do you have a query that needs answering? OK, great. But be sure to bring it up to the head of HR in their office and not in the bathroom. If there’s one thing that an HR head detests it’s being cornered in the washroom. 

Of course, each office is different and one HR may be strictly business, while another HR may think hiring and firing is their personal pet project. There are secrets your HR leader won’t divulge to you or anybody else in the office. 

To avoid getting on the wrong side of a hiring manager, just stick to your responsibilities, be respectful and don’t bother them for trivial things. 

How is the HR in your company? Are there rumors of how that department operates in your place of employment? Let us know in the comment section below...