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By Caroline Cakebread

Seven secrets you should know about your HR department

Is what you share with HR actually confidential? How much information can one trust with human resources personnel? The real truth: they can help you in your career or be the catalyst for your untimely departure. Understanding how HR operates is vital to your career success.


Confidential folder

Is what you share with HR actually confidential? How much information can one trust with human resources personnel? The real truth: they can help you in your career or be the catalyst for your untimely departure. Understanding how HR operates is vital to your career success. Here are seven things you should know about HR:

1. Be mindful of your online (and other) activities

Remember that your company is watching you. Phone calls, texts, tweets and even your Facebook posts are all monitored, so watch what websites you look at while at work and be careful what you say online.

2. Be professional

From a young age we're told to be ourselves - forget this advice when you're meeting with HR! They don't want to know your quirky personal details or your fun-loving side. They want to find out if you can do the job. Make sure you only focus on your skills and experience.

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3. Work party etiquette

Parties at work aren't like the parties you have with friends. Always remember that you're still at work. Don't use it as an opportunity to bring out your quirky side, get drunk or wear your slinkiest party clothes.

4. What not to say

Sure, they organize pizza lunches and other fun events, but the HR department isn't your confidant. So be very careful what you tell them: don't disclose anything about your health, your personal finance status or anything that could cause problems or money loss for the company. And definitely don't tell them anything you wouldn't want your direct manager to know.

5. HR can help your career

Take advantage of what they can do for you. Part of their responsibility is talent management - spotting good employees and fostering their growth within the company. Find out what programs your company has for nurturing and promoting talent.

6. Love performance review time

Want a raise or a more challenging job? Your performance review is the time to express your wants. Sure it's a hassle to complete, but it's your company's way of assessing how well (or poorly) you do your job. If you aren't offered a performance review, then ask for one - or simply write your own and get your boss to sign off on it.

7. They have more money for you

Does your company offer a pension plan or a group RRSP? If so, they might match any contributions you make with additional dollars from your company. But if you don't sign up for the benefit and start contributing, you won't get the money. It's well worth your while to check our your company's retirement savings benefits. If they're willing to help you save, take them up on the offer

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