For those embarking on a new career in HR, the range of options has never been more diverse. Hot favourites include talent management, employee benefits and, perhaps surprisingly, payroll. But what’s the best way to get into these increasingly competitive, growing areas? Nick Martindale finds out.
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Having gained a general grounding in the discipline, and perhaps completed the relevant Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) qualifications, some aspiring HR professionals will find themselves drawn to a specialist area. Others may enjoy the variety of work they can get in a more generalist role and look to develop a greater understanding of the way HR fits into the wider business, with a view to eventually becoming a business partner. But even this is not as straightforward as it sounds, according to Vanessa Robinson, adviser, organisation and resourcing, at the CIPD.
"You see a lot of adverts for business partner roles, but you only need to look at the range of salaries to see that what's meant by 'business partner' varies considerably," she says. "In a number of cases, it seems that the business partner is a title change from what would have been an HR manager, rather than operating at a very senior strategic level."
The nature of the job is likely to depend on the size of the organisation and the HR model it uses, meaning finding the right business to work for is vital. Robinson also points out that there is no set career path to the top, and people may find themselves taking a sideways step in another company, or temporarily moving out of HR altogether.
"Don't necessarily assume that your next role has to be a promotion or the next one up," she says. "People seem to be 'zi