People working in HR are continually being asked to diversify their skill set. From employment law to talent acquisition, to performance management and more, an in-demand HR professional has a wide range of skills. As the field of HR advances which skills are most important in keeping up with the times?
We set out to learn what skills are most in-demand by analyzing job postings in the US, UK, and Australia in November and December of 2018. The jobs we searched for included terms like: “CHRO”, “People Analytics”, “Head of People”, “HR Business Partner” and more. Skills were extracted from the job postings, which brings us the following list of in-demand skills for HR professionals in 2019.
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Planning, vision, performance management, and attention to detail were skills listed in the top ten across all three geographies. Here, we break down what each skill means, what employers are looking for, and how to best present these skills in an interview.
Organizations want an HR leader with the ability to plan. HR is typically responsible for understanding how to properly hire to meet business needs, in addition to creating a plan for how to retain and develop new people. Creating a successful HR strategic plan involves understanding current HR capacity, forecasting requirements, developing the People strategy (including things like recruitment, onboarding, remuneration, etc.), then reviewing and evaluating the plan before execution. All this takes time to do well, and for companies who lack structure in this area, a good HR professional can be a business-saving hire.
In an interview: Speak about a strategy you’ve implemented from scratch. It could be a new onboarding process, or perhaps you built your entire HR department from the ground up. Employers want to know about the full process - from research to implementation - in a succinct story.
In addition to someone capable of creating a plan for HR, companies want a leader who has vision. Often vision comes with experience, as those who have gone through more ups and downs in their career can more easily anticipate what challenges may arise in the future. However, that’s not to say that people early on in their HR career can’t have vision. Sometimes organizations are looking for someone with a new perspective. Either way, an HR leader with vision is not only able to plan effectively but inspire others as well.
In an interview: Share a time when you inspired others to take action on your idea. Perhaps you introduced a new learning and development system with the support of line managers. Talk about that success, and why you were able to get others’ support.
Performance management is a skill that’s ripe for innovation. There are many ways to approach performance management at an organization, and an HR professional’s philosophy on this topic is an important consideration in the hiring process. For some, performance management is strictly used for setting salaries and determining promotions. For others, employee development is important to include in the performance process. Organizations are often looking for an HR manager who can implement a performance management system successfully.
In an interview: If you have past experience in developing a performance management strategy, share why you decided on that strategy, how it was received, and what you learned along the way. If you don’t yet have direct implementation experience, provide the rationale behind your suggested approach and how you would measure success and improve based upon feedback. Be sure to research what type of performance management your potential new company uses, or has tried.
Attention to detail
While this skill is likely to appear on many job descriptions, when applied to HR it speaks to the importance of internal communication and maintaining credibility. From a communications perspective, HR professionals are often communicating about sensitive topics like salary, development, and benefits. A spelling error, a missed link, or ill-timed email can cause widespread misunderstanding and frustration. This can add up to impact the leader’s credibility, which makes accomplishing any other initiative more difficult.
In an interview: Be sure to have attention to detail throughout the hiring process, ensuring your cover letter meets expectations and you arrive on time for all stages of the interview. Speak to your past experience as an effective and trustworthy communicator to demonstrate your attention to detail.
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