Experts warn human resources professionals to switch jobs or risk dull career

To be a successful human resources professional in the future, HR practitioners will need to gain experience of working across functions and sectors, experts have warned.

Knowledge of different areas of an organisation is essential for HR professionals to fully understand how their business works, senior figures at the CIPD conference in Harrogate said this week.

Ali Levy, director of HR and organisational development at charity Crime Reduction Initiatives, told Personnel Today: “HR could do with having experience across functions including finance, IT and communications, because it helps to integrate HR into the business quicker.

“Having experience across functions means you can get involved in different ways. Employers can see you have more than one string to your bow, and this builds your credibility.”

Levy has worked in senior HR roles in private and public sectors, including Sussex Police and insurance firm Royal Sun Alliance.

“When you come from different sectors you can take a step back to see what’s going on in your organisation,” she added.

Mike Haffenden, HR consultant and former HR director at technology group Hewlett-Packard agreed that HR managers should switch sectors every few years to help them move up the career ladder and see “how things are done in different ways”.

“If you have been with one company for a long time, employers will ask why you haven’t changed,” he said

But Mike Watts, CIPD professional development director, warned against sector-hopping.

“Employers generally want someone with experience from the same sector. The fact you’ve worked in several sectors makes no difference. I agree you need different perspectives, but you don’t need to change sectors to do that,” he said.

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