How can I switch to reward role?

I have been a generalist HR manager for four years. I know sometimes it is
beneficial to specialise and I would like to focus on reward and compensation.
Can you tell me what to do to cross over into this field? I have applied for my

Jo Selby, associate director, EJ Human Resources

While some individuals do choose to specialise in an area of HR that they
enjoy, both generalist and specialist careers can offer longer-term
opportunities, so don’t feel you must specialise.

Having said that, if you have an interest in reward and compensation and
feel this is where you wish to focus, one of the first areas you will need to
address is your CV. Rewrite it, ensuring that you highlight any involvement you
have had in reward and compensation to date. Register your interest with
agencies and discuss your experience and any opportunities with them.

In the meantime, get as much exposure to reward and compensation as you can
with your current organisation.

Clive Sussams, recruitment consultant, Malpas Flexible Learning

It is helpful to have substantial knowledge and experience of some major
elements of the HR function, even if you ultimately decide to aspire to a
senior generalist position heading up a large team. I have known HR
professionals who spent several years specialising in remuneration and benefits
in order to obtain more senior roles or, indeed, move into reward consultancy.

While it is not essential to have CIPD membership initially to develop a
specialist career, it is very advisable and you should ensure that you become
qualified as soon as possible. It is also important that you have acquired a
good working knowledge of Microsoft Office, particularly Excel and Access, as
there will invariably be a substantial amount of costing and reward modelling
should you find a development role.

If you do not have opportunities to move in your present company, apply for
remuneration and benefits positions, even at a lower level. Your experience in
handling salary and benefit reviews should help your applications.

Peter Lewis, consultant, Chiumento

The first point to clarify is why you think being a reward and compensation
specialist would fit into your overall career plan. Such work can be very
positive in career terms, giving the opportunity to gain exposure to HR issues
at a very senior level, but you need to think of your aptitude and motivation
for such a move. You don’t want to go down a route which eventually turns out
to be unfulfilling.

Use the contacts you have made through CIPD. Find specialists in different
sectors of reward and compensation and ask them about their experiences – roles
may vary.

Try to get relevant experience within your current role. If your company
uses a job evaluation system, get trained in its use or identify useful
projects, such as a salary survey.

Support your practical work by attending courses and seminars. The CIPD has
a Compensation Forum which is worth attending, not least for the networking
opportunities it provides.

Next rewrite your CV emphasising your achievements and giving examples of
your experience. Then conduct a job-search campaign. Continually refine your
thinking on what experience employers are seeking by talking to recruitment
consultancies and by examining advertisements.

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