How can I step into HR systems?

I have two years’ HR experience which has largely involved dabbling with
personnel systems. I have now decided to specialise in this side of the
function, but as it is on the border of HR and IT, I am unsure which step to
take as far as training and qualifications are concerned. Should I still pursue
the CIPD course or is there something more specific?

Clive Sussums, recruitment consultant, Malpas Flexible Learning

There is no doubt that most progressive HR functions will have need for
highly competent system specialists as the nature of analysis and reporting
changes with the demands of the business.

There are various points to consider:

1 You will be very marketable if you have a wide range of knowledge of HR
software packages. Many companies recruit staff to work on certain systems and
develop them to fit their particular needs.

2 If you do not already have good skills in packages such as Excel and
Access, you should improve these as soon as possible. This will, for example,
offer you the possibility of obtaining experience in remuneration and benefits

3 HR and IT are, therefore, interconnected and you would be best advised to
be as competent as possible in the software that will have an impact on the HR

4 You should be up to date with all developments in the market.

Jo Selby, associate director, EJ Human Resources

HR software systems is a specialist area, while there is demand for
specialists, in-house opportunities tend to be with larger organisations.
Whether you approach it from an IT or HR perspective will depend on which
aspects of the work you enjoy most.

I suggest you research both options further before making your decision,
looking at the content of both roles and the longer-term career opportunities.
This in turn will help you decide whether to pursue an additional
qualification, and if so, which route to pursue.

Peter Lewis, consultant, Chiumento

The existing growth in IT-based HR solutions is likely to continue as more
companies appreciate the benefits of a reduced administration load on the HR
team by introducing direct records access by employees as well as greater
integration of recruitment, training and manpower planning.

Leading-edge IT companies tend to value experience over formal
qualifications. While a qualification may be relevant to your longer-term
career goals, in the short term your decision will depend partly on
understanding which aspects of the job you enjoy most.

If you prefer working closely with HR, your long-term career choice could be
an HR role in a computerised department, or a sales/ installation/consulting
role with a supplier of HR solutions. A preference for a more technical role
raises the question of which software systems you wish to specialise in.
Research which firms look like good, long-term bets, then find out what
training they require.

A number of major players provide their own training. While attendance on
these will not guarantee you a job, it is usually a necessary precondition for
work in this field.

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