Fri
Aug 18 2017 2:00pm

From HR to PI

Read this exclusive guest post from Adam Walker Phillips, then make sure to sign in and comment below for a chance to win a copy of The Silent Second!

Human Resources and private detection were never meant to be a good match.

The basic premise for a new kind of amateur sleuth was to throw a disaffected corporate cog—someone searching for a meaning in a job that has none—into the heart of a murder mystery where he might very well find that purpose in life. When I was refining the premise further to a specific job within a company, Human Resources became the clear choice. What better job to personify disillusionment and existential crisis than the person watching over all the disillusioned people undergoing existential crises in their meaningless jobs? 

Soon after I started writing the Chuck Restic mystery series, I realized that an HR exec as a private detective wasn’t so far-fetched an idea after all; in fact, the skills of your average HR person actually translate quite well to the world of private detection.

One of the main attributes of being a detective is the ability to extract information from people and know when someone is lying. Those in Human Resources demonstrate this skill every day when interviewing potential employees. Sure, the room is likely nicer, there’s no two-way mirror, and in most cases, no handcuffs—but at its core, one person is trying to discover the truth while the other is trying to present an image that’s, at best, one-third accurate.

This isn’t exactly easy, either. Over the last two decades, resumes and interview responses have gotten so bloated with fluff and jargon that it’s become nearly impossible to glean what someone actually does: 

“Facilitated discussions among teams of senior managers…”
“Liaison for strategic external clients…”
“Workflow oversight of core content deliverables…”

A good HR person can see past the jargon from even the most experienced interviewee. They are able to navigate the subterfuge and discern the truth behind people’s words: 

“Scheduled meetings.”
“Answered phones.”
“Did nothing.”

Investigation is another core function of the HR role. Granted, the “crimes” being investigated never quite reach the level of a triple homicide, but discovering who stole the half-and-half from the communal fridge comes close when failure means facing down legions of angry caffeine addicts. And unmasking the person who’s been using the Mother’s Room to do phone interviews is a high-stakes operation when you factor in the risk of a million-dollar lawsuit from a pissed-off mom who’s just returned to work from maternity leave and is leaking through her silk blouse. Even in these lesser crimes, the core tenets of good detective work—observation and deduction—and all the techniques—stakeouts, interviews, research—are essential if an HR exec is ever going to solve the case. 

Unfortunately, the final attributes of all great detectives—courage and the tenacity to see things to their end—are woefully lacking in many HR folks. While most of them hold black belts in passive aggression, they aren’t generally known for their bravery. In their defense, the corporate structure doesn’t typically reward people for standing tall, fighting for what’s right, or being the lone voice. Those types of people are pushed aside, marginalized, or outright terminated. Anyone with a long tenure at a big firm (and a desire to keep it that way until they retire) learns early on that there’s safety in numbers and that what’s “right” is what the most senior person in the room says is right.  

That’s where the existential crisis and the need for a purpose come back into play. My character Chuck Restic—a longtime HR guy for a large downtown-LA firm—might not exactly demonstrate courage at work, but he sure does outside the office when he’s on a case in the real world where people’s lives are at stake. And if Chuck’s able to take those same skills he practices every day in a meaningless job monitoring employees’ petty internet excursions and apply them down on the dirty streets below his hermetically sealed corporate skyscraper in search of truth and justice, he may just find that purpose in life he’s been longing for.
 

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The Silent Second Comment Sweepstakes: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN.  A purchase does not improve your chances of winning.  Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States, D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec), who are 18 years or older as of the date of entry.  To enter, complete the “Post a Comment” entry at https://www.criminalelement.com/blogs/2017/08/from-hr-to-pi-comment-sweepstakes beginning at 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) August 18, 2017. Sweepstakes ends 2:59 p.m. ET August 29, 2017. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Macmillan, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.

 

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Adam Walker Phillips is a 20-year veteran of Corporate America. He has endured countless PowerPoint decks, offsite retreats and visioning sessions, synergies, and synergistically-minded cross-functional teams to bring you the Chuck Restic mystery series. He lives with his wife and children in Los Angeles.

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86 comments
John Smith
2. jsmith2jsmith
That cover is very cool! And I love HR people! They're so full of insight and are utterly genuine!!
James Joyce
3. JamesPatrickJoyce
Coming from HR is better than coming from the Quality Assurance department.
6. Shannon Baas
I would like this.
JAMES LYNAM
11. jpl123456
Perfect for the coming cold WINTER, especially with an IRISH COFFEE.
Lorena Davies
12. lgutz02
I'd like to get back into reading and back into the genre.
14. Myra Ramirez
Sounds like my kind of book!
18. kross
I can't wait to read it.
Michael Carter
19. rubydog
Sounds Good!
Yes, please enter me in this sweepstakes.
Thanks ---
20. Donald Forsythe 64
HR all the way!
Marisa Young
22. Risa
Interesting. Would like to read book.
Kim Salmi
23. Coffeebean
This sounds like my kind of detective novel for sure : )
Kim Salmi
23. Coffeebean
This sounds like my kind of detective novel for sure : )
Joy Isley
26. JOYE
I am always looking for new authors to read. This series sounds like the kind of books I enjoy reading. I am glad he included a dog in this latest book-I am an aminal lover.
Lori Provenzano
28. Mountainesque
The HR-centric premise of this book sounds fascinating.The finely-honed 'baloney'-detecting apparatus of these related professions would prove very useful indeed.
Carolyn Bybee
32. CSB
I have done some resume interpreting for HR before. Very interesting!
Terrie Ash
36. teria222
There's a little detective in all of us!
Karen Oliver
37. kare66
This sounds like a good read. I am looking for an opportunity to win!
susan beamon
40. susanbeamon
This is so far out there that it just might work. I would like to win a copy so I can read it.
Kimberly Dull
45. kimdulina
This sounds like a unique take on a mystery. I love things that don't feel like I've read them before.
Crystal Blackburn
46. lovesmysteries
I enjoyed the post. I bet the book is good too. I would love to win a copy.
Janice Milliken
48. msjiva
Good title and attractive bookcover. Makes a reader want to "dive" into it!
Polly Johnson
49. majorpj2
Having supervised an HR department which entailed a background investigation component delving into prospective applicants, I can attest to your statements. They can run hand in hand.
Margit Curtright
50. margitc
This sounds like an interesting angle. Thanks for the contest!
Marybeth Mank
53. Gr8chefmb
I've known lots of great HR people who would've made great detectives. :-) Sometimes, they have to think 'outside the box' just like a good detective. They also have to have great instincts.
L
54. LStirling
What a way to get over the workplace blues! Really, who hasn't stared at the walls of their office and dreamed of the excitement of crime solving? Er, well, maybe that's just me....and Chuck, of course.
Mary Ann Woods
55. puttputt1198eve
When one stops to think about it, an HR exec would make a good PI. He/she should be a good judge of human nature.
sandra burns
56. rexxtigger
Sounds like an awesome read, thanks for the opportunity.
Meredith Miller
57. meredithfl
Having an HR background, I've seen way too many people take advantage of the systems set up to protect them. This sounds like a great story!
Deb Philippon
59. DebP
Somehow this sounds very familiar. Wish me luck!
60. helen martin
Sounds like an interesting combo.
61. BETH T.
As a SoCal native who spent a few years working in HR, this book has a lot of appeal to me. Thanks for the chance to win a copy!
Theresa Clarke
65. Luminous Angel
I can totally see the transition from HR to PI - they both involve a lot of psychology ;)
Sue Farrell
66. Suekey12
I never particularly cared for the HR department when I was working, but I do enjoy private detectives so maybe this book will convince me that HR people are really human after all.
Sue Farrell
66. Suekey12
I never particularly cared for the HR department when I was working, but I do enjoy private detectives so maybe this book will convince me that HR people are really human after all.
Brenda Elsner
68. brat52101
Thanks for the chance to win this book. I would love to read it!!
Linda Peters
69. linnett
Love a good dectective story, thanks for the chance
Ed Nemmers
71. saturdaynightfever
I would like to read the work of Adam Walker Phillips.
Abigail Gibson
72. luvlife4ever
Looking forward to reading this exciting mystery.
74. Leela
Thanks for the giveaway!
Buddy Garrett
76. garrettsambo
It sounds very interesting. I would love to read it.
77. Lori byrd
Sounds so good.
Philip Lawrence
78. Pooch
I like a good corporate sleuth drama.
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