I am an HR generalist with strong interests in recruitment and training and
development. But there are some aspects of HR I dislike intensely such as
employee relations. My options seem to be either to specialise in recruitment
or training (and presumably it would have to be one or the other) or remain in
a generalist role and put up with the bits I don’t enjoy.
Jo Selby, associate director, EJ Human Resources
Is it that you want to specialise in either recruitment or training, or is
it that you wish to minimise your involvement with ER issues? If the latter is
the case, this can be done without moving away from a generalist role. While ER
will still form part of your remit, there are some industry sectors where there
are significantly fewer ER issues than others, thereby minimising your
involvement in this particular aspect of HR.
However, if it is your strong interest in recruitment and/or training and
development which is causing you to consider specialising and this is the area
you now wish to focus your career on, I would advise you to make such a move.
However, once you specialise in a particular area of HR it can be much harder
to return to a generalist role. Additionally, when economic climates are tight,
specialist functions such as recruitment and training can be areas where
cutbacks can be made. While considering these factors, they should not stop you
from making such a move.
Clive Sussams, recruitment consultant, Malpas Flexible Learning
For most people there are some aspects of their jobs that are more
interesting than others. By marketing yourself as a generalist you have
indicated you have expertise in a range of HR areas to a reasonable level.
One significant factor is the extent to which the company culture responds
to initiatives from, and how much it can be influenced by HR. This does in turn
affect the quality of HR jobs and satisfaction gained by practitioners.
I would emphasise that if you do specialise for a while it does not
automatically mean that your career will then be set until you retire. Assuming
you are qualified and maintain your CIPD membership, you should be able to move
into different roles in HR.
Peter Wilford, consultant, Chiumento
Many people in a profession reach the stage of deciding whether to remain a
generalist or become a specialist. Whether you make that decision right now
depends upon the stage of your career – if it’s early on it would probably be
best to obtain a good generalist grounding which will stand you in good stead
should your chosen specialist area go lopsided in the future.
First, you should become CIPD qualified, if you are not already, then you
will be regarded as a serious HR professional, whichever route your career
Second, the decision to specialise or not also depends on the company you
work for. The larger it is, the greater scope for specialisation; in a small
company, generalism becomes more inevitable. You should think about your skills
and how they fit the direction you may be considering. Also think about which
aspects of HR you enjoy and what you are good at.
To progress in a training or development role needs particular skills and
attributes. Talk to people who are in these roles to find out whether you have
the potential to specialise, and also whether doing these jobs day in, day out
will still provide the satisfaction you are seeking. Remember that there are
elements of every job that are unenjoyable. Finally, it could be possible to be
in recruitment and training at the same time – you could think about
specialising in graduate recruitment, for example, which majors on your
favourite elements. You would inevitably, though, still be dealing with ER and
broader HR issues, but the prime focus would be on your preference.