My next move – The best HR option

by 10 Jul 2007

Q. I am an HR generalist with one year of experience in the HR field. I have enjoyed all of the specialist areas of HR to which I have been exposed. I am keen to know what areas are in the most demand, and which will offer me the best remuneration in the long-term?

A. The candidate shortage in the specialist areas of HR, and for mid-level generalist roles is set to continue for the foreseeable future, so competition for these skills is fierce, as organisations continue to strengthen their HR function. While the results of Hays’ 2007 salary survey indicate that salaries have remained competitive at all levels within HR over the past 12 months, we are seeing marked increases in some specific areas.

With HR generalists focusing on ensuring the organisation is a great place to work, increasing the capability of their workforce, succession planning, etc, more and more are employing internal recruitment specialists to free them to focus on these activities, and to cope with the increased recruitment activity. Internal recruitment is an area that is seeing sharp salary increases with recruitment specialist salaries rising 6.6 per cent and recruitment manager salaries rising 10.1 per cent.

Remuneration specialists are also in demand to ensure that in the fight for talent, organisations are offering competitive salaries, incentives, commission structures and benefits on an ongoing basis. This is reflected in the fact that salaries for remuneration and benefits management roles have risen by 9.9 per cent.

It is widely regarded that a stint in remuneration and benefits is beneficial to the career of an HR generalist, particularly as you approach director level.

This reinforces your understanding of the financials behind HR. If you want to specialise in compensation and benefits, enhance your Microsoft Excel skills to a superior level, and gain some exposure to this side of HR, to assist you in securing a dedicated remuneration and benefits role.

The focus on staff retention and engagement are also resulting in increased investment in employees, and we are seeing an increase in a number of roles in learning and development.

Roles can encompass training needs analysis, design and delivery, or simply one of these areas. Thus it is not surprising to see marked salary increases in learning and development, with salaries rising for learning and development managers by 13.65 per cent and 7.7 per cent for learning consultants.

We are also finding more and more HR professionals keen to specialise in organisational development. If this is an area of interest for you – and you are in a generalist role now – we suggest you take every opportunity to initiate and invest in change, gaining experience as a change agent.

Alternatively, involve yourself with any company acquisition activity if possible, or any projects focusing on organisational structure. Tertiary or postgraduate studies in organisational change are also highly regarded.

With a growing trend in streamlining fiscal and people performance and effectiveness, employers are focusing on the impact of change on employees.

There are more and more roles for change managers (generally on a project basis) to ensure that changes are implemented and communicated more effectively, minimising staff loss, and maximising efficiency. If this is your chosen avenue, start upskilling in this area, again, perhaps undertaking studies in organisational change.

Companies are moving towards focussing on OHS as a commitment to the welfare of their employees, rather than simply because it is a legal requirement. If OHS is the area you would like to specialise in, tertiary studies are fast becoming an essential requirement for the roles paying the higher salaries in this field.

By Nicole Isaacs, regional director, Hays Human Resources