Building a career in HR

by 14 Jun 2012


HR structures

In addition to the lack of Graduate Programs there has been a seismic shift in the career paths of HR professionals. As the profession has continued to embrace the Ulrich model there has been a decline in the proportion of career development opportunities available in most organisations.
The Ulrich model structures HR with centralised specialist teams and Business Partners embedded within business units. Our findings from the HR Viewpoint Survey show:


  • 54% of respondents work in the Ulrich model, and
  • for respondents within organisations of more than 1,000 plus employees, this increases to 80%.


The key effect of this is an absence of career development opportunities at the HR Advisor level. In many organisations there is a gulf between HR Coordinator and HR Business Partner roles, which is prompting individuals to look outside their current employer to compete for the small number of developmental roles available.

Developing talent

Salaries in the marketplace are generally consistent for job levels and therefore a key attraction and retention strategy is the employee value proposition (EVP). In this instance, the EVP is specifically around personal and professional development. Bonus schemes and rewarding high performance are very important, but the value of a chat over a coffee with a great mentor cannot be underestimated in an employee’s engagement with a business and in harnessing an individual’s potential to grow.

Recognising this appetite for development and learning opportunities The Next Gen are partnering with the HR industry and take great pride in running quarterly sessions in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. At these events HR Leaders provide advice and guidance to large audiences of eager early career talent and on occasion we have even seen guest speakers offer additional one-on-one coaching to attendees.

Recognising the lack of mentoring relationships, The Next Step launched the Ivan Wood HR Career Readiness Program in 2008, partnering with the University of Western Sydney. The program has proven a great success by offering talented final year students access to mentors.

We have found a number of HR leaders, aware of the value that great mentors have had in their own career growth, keen to offer their time and advice to early career HR professionals. The program has been so successful that this year it has been extended to Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne and the University of New South Wales.

Final word

Mentoring and coaching is essential to HR professionals throughout the span of their careers. As HR teams become leaner, career pathways and mentoring become more vital in ensuring our future HR leaders are identified and equipped to succeed.


About the author

Andrew Hill is a Consultant within The Next Gen division of The Next Step, a specialist consulting practice in the human resources market. For more information call (03) 9664 0900 or email You can also visit online at

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