News Stories

Caring and customer service skills define senior HR specialist

USACE, Mobile District
Published Dec. 14, 2022
Woman sitting at a desk

Jessica Taylor, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District, senior human resources specialist sits at her desk, December 12, 2022, Mobile, Alabama. Taylor, who has worked for the district since 2016, said that a successful HR representative needs to have a heart for HR and a passion for serving others. (U.S. Army photo by Chuck Walker)

Two Women talking at a desk

Jessica Taylor, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District senior human resource specialist, left, discusses and employees file with Nakia Harris, human resource specialist, on December 12, 2022, Mobile, Alabama. Taylor, who is a Civilian Human Resources Agency employee was chosen for the District’s 2023 Leadership Development Course, despite not being a Corps employee. (U.S. Army photo by Chuck Walker)

By Chuck Walker

MOBILE, Ala. – One of the more thankless jobs or career fields someone can get into is Human Resources.

It is one of those jobs where if everything goes right without a hitch, it was supposed to be that way, and if there are problems; you are supposed to be able to fix it yesterday.

In the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District, the HR department has three main functions, labor and employee relations, classification, and recruitment.

Jessica Taylor, a senior human resources specialist in the district, is an example of someone doing their best to provide employees and managers the assistance they need in order to be successful. She is also doing her best to make people thankful for human resources.

“Jessica is a kind and caring person,” said Kerry Murray, Civilian Personnel Advisory Center Director. “She takes initiative as a team player to share knowledge with others and help others whether it is a customer in the HR office or a peer of hers.”

Taylor, a Mobile native who began her federal service 12 years ago and has been working in Mobile since 2016, said she loves the interaction she has with co-workers and managers daily and providing them the service they seek.

“As a Senior HR Specialist, I provide advisory and technical support to management,” Taylor said. “On a daily basis, I am working with managers on future vacancies and the best way to get those filled; announcing positions on USAJOBS, reading and referring resumes, interpreting new HR policies; and overall providing customer service to any and all managers and employees on topics related to HR.”

Unlike the young fast-food employee at the drive thru window, Taylor said one thing she would like other people to know about the HR office and its employees is that their first inclination is not to turn you away without fixing or helping you with your problem.

“We are not here to say no,” Taylor said. “We are going to work as hard as we can to get the best possible outcome. Everyone in HR really has a heart to help and get the job done. We all work together and discuss hot topics so that when we advise management, we are as accurate as can be.”

One of the big emphasis of USACE is recruitment and it just so happens that that is Taylor’s expertise in HR.

Her advice to someone seeking employment with USACE or the district is to consider the huge impact you will have in the position and to not shy away from the field just because the work isn’t easy.

“My advice is to go for it!,” Taylor said. “It is challenging work, but so rewarding. Our job places people in positions that go on to build bases, work in natural resources at campgrounds, parks, powerhouses and dams, and award millions of dollars in contracts. You must have a heart for customer service[GDCUC(1] . Working for the Corps and the Mobile District is the best decision I ever made. I love working here and I hope it shows through in every action and conversation that I am a part of.”

As for her future, Taylor says she sees herself staying in HR, but she would like to pursue a more leadership role withing the field.

“I love HR,” Taylor said. “I don’t see myself ever getting out of this field, but a long-term goal I have is to get into leadership. I have had many discussions with my CPAC Director about wanting to be in leadership and he has really mentored me and allowed me to take over projects or meetings so that I can have experience in a variety of settings.”

In light of Taylor’s hard work, customer service skills and her don’t say no attitude, she was chosen to be a student in the district’s 2023 Leadership Development Program (LDP), even though she is a Civilian Human Resource Agency (CHRA), Department of the Army as opposed to a Corps’ employee.

“Jessica has a work ethic that is one to emulate,” Murray said. “She is organized and very determined to ensure her work, and the work of her peers are superior at all times. This work ethic has gained her the respect of senior management officials as a subject matter expert in the HR office. She was selected to participate in the District’s LDP course as an outside participant, which reflects the potential she has to be a leader. Jessica is definitely an up-and-coming superstar in the HR field.”

Taylor said that when you love your job it never feels like work, and she feels she has truly found the calling of her life when she chose HR as her career field.

“It’s not about the recognition or the accolades you receive, it is about working as a team to get the mission done,” Taylor said. “I have a passion for HR, so when a new hire comes on board it gives me a sense of fulfillment and that is enough for me. “HR is truly what I was supposed to do in life.”