Thursday, December 09, 2004

HR Seminars

I recently attended a breakfast seminar on the scintillating topic of "Building the Case for Selection Systems." Who said the the world of HR management isn't glamorous and exciting? I really need a career change...

As you can imagine, males represent a significant minority of the HR workforce. Straight, single men are even more rare. Consequently, HR events are often akin to singles bars, but with the male/female ratios reversed. Having gone to quite a number of these things, I've come to recognize how the single women in the audience approach the process.

Step One: The room scan
It all begins with the basic scan of the room. Which table does she want to sit at? Where are the most attractive people grouped? If the room is relatively empty, they sometimes find it best to stand and sip coffee as they gaze thoughtfully out the window at the view of Central Park while waiting for people to arrive.

Step Two: Ring check
Before sitting down, they check the men for wedding rings.

Step Three: The greeting
Oddly enough"come to these often?" is the preferred introductory line. Trailing just behind that, in a close second, is "I really shouldn't be eating these pastries, but I'm going to the gym later so....ha, ha, ha." Thus letting you know that she worries about her figure and is dedicated to remaining in shape.

Step Four: Vaguely probing questions
These generally begin with business type questions "Where do you work?"(ummm...the company name is on my name tag, kiddo) "What kind of company is that?" (a law firm) "What do you do there?" (as little as possible...mostly blogging and IMing), before veering into personal inquiries with a subtle emphasis on uncovering sexual orientation "tip offs." (i.e. I was with my nephew this weekend. He's so adorable. Do you have any children?") Additionally, they check you out more closely. Is he a little too fashionable and well groomed? Are those Prada shoes he's wearing? The last thing she wants to do is make friends with another gay HR guy.

Step Five: Keeping the Momentum Alive
As the presentation begins, the banter continues. Sly comments are whispered and notes are written and passed back and forth.

Step Six: Good-Bye
At the end of the presentation comes the ritual business card exchange and the elevator ride down to the lobby during which the small talk becomes awkward and almost post coital in nature, most of it of the "let's keep in touch" variety.

Step Seven: Follow-Up
Within 24 hours, she sends a breezy e-mail along the lines of this "Hi! I had a lot of fun talking to you. Maybe we can get together for lunch or drinks soon to talk about the seminar, and how you are planning to address the issue discussed at your firm. Let me know!"

See? The life of an HR guy isn't always all that bad.

Addendum: A few friends have called to ask about this, so I want to stress that this is fictional. This didn't happen to me, it's just what I've seen happen with others at these events. Need more evidence? Well, I said they sit at the table with the most attractive people. Obviously, that leaves me out.