While in undergraduate school, Niki Hruskocy thought she wanted a career in hotel management. However, after a few internships at hotels she realized one crucial thing: they never close. After four years of college and several internships, Hruskocy wasn’t sure what she’d do next.
It wasn’t until she took a recruitment job with a small agency that her path became clear. While she didn’t “fall in love” with being a recruiter, she enjoyed other segments of HR including, benefits and compensation, helping people as opposed to selling potential talent on a role, and determining what roles looks like.
“My next position was in HR administration, and I really took off from there,” says Hruskocy. “I came to LinkSquares after my job at DraftKings, where I worked with Tim Parilla, now the Chief Legal Officer of LinkSquares. He brought me on when LinkSquares was ready to make their first in-house HR hire.”
Hruskocy is Vice President of People at LinkSquares, an AI-powered contracting platform for legal teams. We recently connected with her to discuss her biggest influences, trends, as well as her best mistake. The lesson? Pay attention to the details.
“Early in my career, at my first job in HR administration, one of my responsibilities was delivering promotion letters to leaders,” Hruskocy told HR Daily Advisor. “For whatever reason, I didn’t thoroughly review one and included the wrong compensation information. At that moment, I told myself, “I will never make such a small mistake again.” It showed me how even a tiny error could have significant implications.
“Twenty-three-year-old me learned a valuable lesson that has stayed with me to this day,” she continued. “I hold my entire team accountable and emphasize attention to detail across all our work. As HR professionals, we’re handling so much confidential information, and I now open every attachment before I send an email, and triple-check everything. An error that seemed so small at the time has stuck with me throughout my entire career.”
In our latest Faces of HR, meet Nicki Hruskocy.
Who is/was your biggest influence in the industry?
Yoon Park, who I worked with at DraftKings and Circle (where he still works), is a significant reason I’ve reached this point in my career. I credit him with almost everything I know about human resources. He pushed me, he’s a hard worker with high expectations, and he expected the same from me. His mentorship, time, and coaching helped me get this far; he taught me what it means to work strategically, have a strong work ethic, and go out of your way to support the people at your company. Yoon demonstrated that building relationships is an essential part of working in HR.
What’s your favorite part about working in the industry? What’s your least favorite part, and how would you change it?
My favorite part is the opportunity to speak to many different people every day. I love that everyone comes from unique backgrounds and has different experiences. And, although conversations are similar, none are quite the same. Many conversations bring their own challenges because people have different expectations and personalities. It keeps the day exciting. Sometimes a conversation is complicated, while other times, you are pleasantly surprised by it, so it keeps you on your toes.
Conversely, my least favorite part is that with speaking to so many people each day, many of the conversations are difficult. Often you are the bearer of bad news, or you are in the room when bad news is presented – whether because someone isn’t performing adequately, or there are layoffs. It sucks. These are people’s lives and jobs, and everyone has things going on at home that their job impacts. It can be hard to hide your emotion and deliver a message that nobody wants to hear, especially when you want to do everything you can to help and support employees.
It sounds like, through your experience, you really care about people, and you want to help them feel safe and comfortable, which is important in the industry. Please elaborate here.
I agree that to be in this job, you have to care about people. You have to get creative to do whatever you can to support them. However, on the flip side, sometimes we must make tough business decisions. If you’re too emotionally invested in a situation, it prevents you from seeing it from the business perspective. My number one priority sometimes is the business. I have to balance the company’s reality and understand the metrics and data versus employees’ feelings. Although I enjoy talking to, working closely with, and uplifting people, there is so much depth to the field beyond interacting with people all day.
How can company leaders make HR a value within their organization?
It starts by understanding the intention of the HR team. We’re here to help and be a partner in the business. I love to tell my team that we’re not here to tell anyone “no,” unless there’s a legal or ethical issue. I’m here to walk and guide people through different scenarios and help them understand the various outcomes and risks that come with decisions, including navigating difficult personnel situations.
Where do you see the industry heading in five years? Or are you seeing any current trends?
HR is becoming significantly more data-driven in all aspects, whether using compensation surveys to analyze market data, or reports for diversity, equity and inclusion metrics and performance management.
Software grants HR access to vast data, allowing us to identify and analyze trends within the business. As a result, business leaders value our field more than ever and are rethinking the role of traditional HR functions. Data allows us to evaluate performance data much more closely, and identify employee trends that matter. These metrics enable HR to become a more strategic partner in the business; it’s why more companies are investing in HR by making thoughtful high-level hires and staffing.
As an example of HR data in action, our team compiles what we call our “metric stack” quarterly. This report consists of three parts: demographics, hiring, and attrition. It shows who our employees are, how we’re recruiting them, who is leaving and getting promoted and why. These reports ensure we’re rolling out processes within the business that increase retention and better serve our employees and the company.
In the next few years, the use of data will only increase in HR. We can pick up on many different trends via data that will help businesses hire and retain dynamic employees. With this better insight, HR will become more of a partner within the business strategy.
What are you most proud of?
How quickly I progressed my career despite jumping between companies. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend anyone try that because I believe there is value in showing commitment to an organization. However, when you’re not feeling challenged, or think you can learn more by changing jobs, you should advocate for yourself and make changes if necessary. I learned a lot by moving around and was exposed to different processes, programs, etc., which I could bring to new roles and organizations. I’m most proud of how hard I pushed myself to be the best I could be in my career, no matter where I went.
Do you have any advice for people entering the profession?
Work hard! A lot of the HR profession can be learned on the job through experience. If you are dedicated, and have a strong work ethic, I believe you can progress quickly within the HR industry. Take the time to build strong working relationships and do your own learnings and research to understand all aspects of the industry. Whether that be compensation, payroll, learning & development, etc. there are many areas of HR that professionals should be well versed in in order to be the best HR partner they can be.