COVID-19: A Blessing or a Curse for HR?

Meet my blogger – Samantha Badr, a former student, and aspiring HR professional.  Samantha will be writing about hot HR topics for LJS HR Services.  Listen up – she’s got stuff to say!

COVID-19: A Blessing or a Curse for HR?

Samantha Badr


Raise your hand if you were personally victimized by 2020. I think everyone can agree that COVID-19 shook us to our core and changed the way we live, forever. Backtracking to January of 2020, I was excited for the new year and all the goals I had set. For reference, I was an adorable 27-year-old who had just obtained a Master of Science in Human Resources from Villanova University. I received my Bachelor’s in Business Administration from Pace University, where I was lucky enough to be taught by the one and only, Lisa Stamatelos.

I thought that I had polished my resume just right to appeal to companies as I was applying for jobs. Then COVID-19 became our reality. The whole world was at a standstill. Millions of jobs at stake, and many more shifting into a “new normal”. I kept applying and luckily, I landed two job interviews. Both were with Health Insurance companies. Both jobs dealt with compliance, and I would mostly be working over the phone. I thought that it was a good opportunity to build my resume, so I was excited about the interviews. In the first interview, I met with one of the founders of the company. He asked me generic interview questions and was impressed by my degree in HR. Unfortunately, he informed me that I was “overqualified” for this position because it was entry-level and I didn’t have the “background” he was looking for. I didn’t take it personally and I tried to stay motivated for my second interview.

For the second job, I met with the company’s recruiter. The same standard questions applied. She asked about my resume and former experience, and how I thought my 10-year background in the hospitality industry would benefit from a role in compliance/customer service. I left the interview confident that I would land the job. Unfortunately, it seemed that I did not have the “corporate experience” she was looking for. I felt stuck. When I graduated from Pace, it was preferred that all HR professionals have the extra knowledge/education to stand out in the job market. By 2020, it was preferred that entry-level applicants have all these years of corporate experience.

I recently had an interesting conversation with an HR professional who had the complete opposite background that I did. She has been working in payroll for about 15 years at a very successful corporation. With COVID-19 restrictions, she found herself picking up the slack for the employees laid off or employees that were out of the office because they had symptoms of the virus. She tried to apply for different HR jobs within the company but was denied because she didn’t have the education necessary for these positions. The employees in higher positions with Master’s degrees were underqualified in her opinion, and it left her very dissatisfied with her job. On paper, we both appear very different, but both have a common goal; looking for HR positions during a pandemic, but being lost in the mix of all these requirements.

Harvard Business Review published “21 HR Jobs of the Future” (linked below) in August of 2020 about HR making a comeback during these trying times. Many new roles are being developed within the HR department and that gives me hope for a better future. Out of the 21 jobs, a couple really resonated with me. Meister and Brown discussed roles such as Director of Wellbeing and how it “could provide strategic management over wellness and design services and practices to nurture the emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual health of all employees”.  This is extremely important as mental health issues are on the rise because people aren’t leaving their houses or able to have face-to-face communication on a daily basis. Meister and Brown also mentioned roles like a Strategic HR Business Continuity Director and how it would “lead the HR response team and work with the CEO, CFO, CIO, and the Facilities Director to propose how to create a safe workplace – for both onsite and remote workers”.  COVID-19 vaccines are now being administered and it is beneficial for HR professionals to work with management leaders to ensure safety for its employees across the board.

Although 2020 was a year for learning, 2021 is the year for growth. For all HR professionals in the workforce, have hope that new systems are being put in place to protect your mental and physical health for now and in the future. For the HR applicants, it is our time to stay motivated and keep applying because new jobs are being developed. Moreover, it is refreshing to hear that HR is being recognized for the work it does in every organization. Even with the growth of technology in 2020, companies are aware that they cannot survive without their employees and that their health should be a priority this upcoming year.


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