Has the bubble burst for HR?

Plummeting pay and scarcity of positions in the HR sector are all too
evident, according to a new report sponsored by Personnel Today and Salary
Survey Publications. Ben Willmott examines the findings

The number of advertised HR posts has dropped dramatically over the last 12
months and salaries for these positions have slumped significantly over the
period, according to the latest research.

A report by Salary Survey Publications and Personnel Today shows that the
fall in advertised jobs and salaries is so severe that in most cases the
private sector figures are below the levels of five years ago.

The research reveals that the number of advertised jobs for HR directors’
posts over the last 12 months fell by 18.5 per cent from 507 to 413. Advertised
jobs for HR managers dropped by 29 per cent to 2,735 and their salaries dipped
by 0.3 per cent.

The research was collated by Amanda Molyneaux, HR strategy and systems
manager at Liverpool John Moores University. She said the fall off of
opportunities within the HR profession had followed the pattern of the downturn
in the US.

"The drop is dramatic and has been caused by the general economic
downturn. It’s also more noticeable because HR had a period of real growth just
prior to this fall-off. It is something that has been going on for about a year
– so it’s not a blip," she said.

Jobs for recruitment managers and officers were particularly hard-hit by the
slump, with the number of positions advertised dropping by 63.3 per cent and 67
per cent respectively. Advertised salaries in these positions also fell sharply
with recruitment managers being offered on average 5.1 per cent less than the
previous year and recruitment officers 5.8 per cent less.

"The losers are HR directors, industrial relations managers,
recruitment managers and officers," Molyneaux said. "Training staff
didn’t suffer as badly because companies are training the staff they already
have, rather than buying in new talent."

The study reveals the number of advertised positions for assistant HR
managers dropped by 16 per cent and the salaries for these posts dipped by 0.5
per cent.

Jobs for compensation and benefits managers fell by 9.7 per cent and
advertised salaries for these positions also slumped by 1.4 per cent to an
average of £46,477. There were more than 34 per cent fewer job adverts for
personnel officers, although pay in that role increased slightly to £22,261.

The survey finds the HR jobs market has fallen across all sectors, but with
the public sector faring marginally better than the private sector.

Molyneaux said that only the professional services sector has bucked the
trend, with the number of HR jobs advertised jumping 146 per cent last year.

"This year the professional services sector advertised almost six and a
half times as many HR-related jobs as the next biggest employer, which was the
combined local government councils,

"The magical formula for success is presumably that while professional
services are needed by successful companies, they are needed even more by
businesses in distress.

"Marconi, Enron, Railtrack, ITV Digital and those businesses hit by the
implications of the foot and mouth epidemic must have been, to some extent,
feeding grounds for the sector," said Molyneaux.

The SSP figures reveal that across employment sectors the biggest increases
in advertised salaries are in the public sector: county councils, borough
councils and the health service.

"Salaries in communications, electronics and information technology and
finance remain consistently at the top of the range of those on offer,"
said Molyneaux. "The health service, despite showing one of the biggest
increases in salaries offered this year, still pays less generally across the
range of jobs."

Director of global compensation and benefits at Fidelity Investments, Mark Childs
said the uncertain economic climate has meant that many HR professionals are
reluctant to move jobs. "It may be because a lot of the very senior HR
people are staying where they are and companies haven’t been recruiting as
much," he said.

Childs said the increasing use of interim managers has also played a part in
the drop in the number of advertised jobs but he was confident HR would

"The HR function is becoming increasingly credible and professional and
the growth patterns we are used to will continue in the future."

CIPD assistant director general Duncan Brown said the figures highlighted
the impact of the economic downturn but stressed that HR had been no worse hit
than other functions.

He said the graduate market was still holding up well and that there were
still plenty of opportunities for top people in the HR profession.

HR posts by sector

Retail advertised jobs down 65.5 per
cent, salary up 2.5

County council advertised jobs down
11 per cent, salary up 14.2 per cent

Health authority advertised jobs down
28.4 per cent, salary up 12.9 per cent

Automotive advertised jobs down 71.4
per cent, salary down 12.1 per cent

Industrial advertised jobs down by
74.7 per cent, salary up by 1.2 per cent

Finance advertised jobs down 78 per
cent, salary down 5.7 per cent

Professional services advertised jobs
up 146.6 per cent, salary down 5.6 per cent

HR manager posts

Overall Advertised jobs down by 29.3
per cent, average salary down 0.3 per cent to £38,246

Retail    Advertised jobs down by 60.9 per cent, average salary up by 1 per
cent to £37,465

County councils Advertised jobs up by
4.5 per cent, average salary up by 1.2 per cent to £38,133

Health authority Advertised jobs down
by 35.6 per cent, average salary up by 11.4 per cent to £31,181

Automotive Advertised jobs down by
80.9 per cent, average salary up by 11.8 per cent to £40,833

Compensation and benefits posts

Overall Advertised jobs down 9.7 per
cent, average salary down 1.4 per cent to £46,477

Retail Advertised jobs down by 45.5
per cent, average salary up 10.9 per cent to £49,000

Industrial Advertised jobs down 87.5
per cent, average salary down 4.9 per cent to £40,000

Finance Advertised jobs down 82.5 per
cent, average salary down 5.2 per cent to £49,929

Professional services Advertised jobs
up by 67.5 per cent, average salary down 1.1 per cent to £47,209

Recruitment posts

Overall Advertised jobs down 63.3 per
cent, average salary down 5.1 per cent to £33,630

London Borough Advertised jobs down
44.4 per cent, average salary down 6.4 per cent to £31,400

Health authorities Advertised jobs up
100 per cent, average salary up 16.4 per cent to £29,500

Energy advertised jobs down by 33.3
per cent, average salary up by 10.7 per cent to £38,750

Publishing/media Advertised jobs down
by 88.2 per cent, average salary down by 12.5 per cent to £32,500

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