The Big Interview with Lisa Haggar

With almost 30 years in the HR arena, Lisa has excelled her career within a background of start-up, scale-up and PE-backed businesses.

She is a highly influential HR leader and is recognised for her provocative thoughts and contemporary approach to Human Resources.   

Lisa is also a qualified, highly regarded coach and public speaker. She writes posts, blogs and articles that inspire many with her positive attitude and challenges to the norm.   

As one of the top HR influencers on LinkedIn, she describes herself as the ‘Queen of People’ excelling at her people-centric leadership approach, that builds extraordinary business cultures.  

What has been your experience of searching for your next HR Director role?  

The contract role I was in was cut due to costs, which meant I found myself in the position of looking for a new role at the height of a pandemic! Nothing could have prepared me for what would take place next.   

The whole experience was very difficult and frustrating. I found that 50% of the roles being advertised didn’t exist and were old roles left on the job boards to build the recruiters’ databases or making them look busier than their competitors. There were also very few roles and so many people losing their jobs on a daily basis, that when we did apply I was one of more than 700! 

I persevered and managed to line up a few interviews.  

I was told that I was overqualified, not experienced in their sector or didn’t hear anything back at all, which is very poor considering the climate right now.   

After two weeks of applying for roles online, I stopped as there was no value in this approach, so I started to network and increase my visibility on LinkedIn. 

What have you found the expectations of the market to be?  

It’s hard to compare the market right now with anything because this has never happened before. Even with the crash in 2008 new industries like fintech were born like a phoenix from the flames and I just don’t see anything like that happening this time around.  

So many companies are apprehensive about making any big, bold moves until they have an idea if there will be a second wave. I have seen more interim roles appearing especially in areas like restructuring, complex ER and furlough, which has almost ended now.  

My view is that those who are brave and bold right now will reap the rewards in the long-term. They will be the ones the best talent will want to go and work with. People remember how you treated them during the tough times, so if you have treated your people poorly then they will be first out the door when things do pick up.    

How have you used your network during this process?  

I have built a very strong network on Linkedin and from networking groups in the past, so I was in a better position than most to start reaching out to people I had worked with or who I knew in the industry.  

Due to my presence on the platform, I also have a large LinkedIn following. In the last six months, I have had more than 36 million views of my posts. While views don’t mean you’re connected with everyone, it does mean that you are appearing on their feed. The more eyes, the bigger the awareness, so the more likely you will be seen and contacted by people.    

What is your success story?  

I think my success on LinkedIn is due to putting myself out there.  

I am connected to so many HR professionals who won’t get involved publicly due to fear of repercussions. What if my employer doesn’t like it? What if I get negative comments etc.  

I challenge the HR sector to think differently.  

I get a high level of engagement about people topics because what I write resonates with so many people.  

I shared a post about how in HR we are trained in people – and I can assure you that the people issues companies have are the same. There’s nothing new across any of them.  

Therefore, I asked why companies say: “Must have experience in X sector’’, which right now is one of the main reasons HR people aren’t being considered for a role. How short-sighted, and in fact, by having someone from outside of their industry could mean fresh ideas and better ways of working. That post really hit a nerve with 5,000 comments, more than 35,000 reactions and 4.27 million views! 

What advice can you give to others who find themselves seeking their next senior HR role?  

If you want to stand out in a very large crowd you need to find a way to cut through the noise so you get seen and heard.  

For example, a few people are doing video CVs and I think they are great, but again it’s what others are doing so I flipped it.  

I did a video testimonial from two ex-CEOs asking them to do my a reference, as the paper one people ask for is so outdated and just confirms dates and title.  

People are so risk-averse now they won’t do anything else.  

The video helped to validate my expertise and showcase what I had delivered commercially for them. It led to 41 calls direct from employers, one of which I secured my new role with. Innovation is one of their core values and I’d shown that with my testimonial video. I had help with the video mastery, I love tech but I haven’t learned video editing skills…… well not yet anyway.   

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About Lisa

Lisa has two children – Dylan, 21 and Keane, 18 – and when she isn’t at work, spends her time enjoying travel, walking her two dogs and supporting local charities with volunteer work.  

She is a mental health advocate and gives a lot of her free time to helping people who need support with mental health through her chosen charity Don’t Mind Me. She also runs several initiatives which help people get back into work.   

If you want to contact Lisa regarding any of the topics discussed, you can find all her contact details on LinkedIn