What to look for in an organisation when job-hunting in HR

Large multinationals might stifle a more creative HR professional

The world is your oyster when it comes to looking for HR roles. From the law to finance, healthcare and retail – organisations of all shapes, sizes and industries need HR expertise. While this means you can find the perfect employer for you, the choice can be bewildering so we asked some experienced HR professionals about what to look out for when choosing where to work.

“The key thing for me in choosing any organisation to go to would be to understand their view of HR; their view of the value that the function can add, and their understanding and rationale as to why they want to bring in this individual or this role,” says Jo Vernon who has worked in HR for just over 21 years.

She advises to avoid organisations that just see HR as a necessity for managing back-office administration, and look for ones that understand how it can support the whole organisation’s strategy and success.

Size is also important when it comes to looking for your next HR role. It make sense that this will affect how many people you lead and support, as well as how established the HR department is, but it also has implications for the amount of creativity you’ll be able to bring to the role.

“If you have loads of ideas you want to try, this will be remarkably difficult in a very established, large, multinational company compared with the software company of 100 people down the road,” says Sarah Pinchbeck, an HR professional with five years’ experience.

Size also affects your how your immediate team operates with each other, and within the wider organisation. “Do you want a team environment or standalone HR role?” asks Hannah Townsend, who has worked in HR or seven years.

If you have loads of ideas you want to try, this will be remarkably difficult in a very established, large, multinational company compared with the software company of 100 people down the road”

It’s also worth taking into consideration whether you would mind a team that is based remotely, or if you prefer to see the people you work with face-to-face as this can differ from business to business.

You might also find that in multinational businesses, your support work with employees might also be remote – is this something you would be happy with?

The life cycle of the business and sector in which it operates is another essential to consider. Would you prefer a fast-paced start-up where you might enjoy more exposure to a range of HR issues and possibly more responsibility, or something more established? Pinchbeck says to match what you want to the organisation’s life cycle. “If you hate the redundancy process you might want to avoid an industry in decline,” she says.

And finally, don’t overlook the pay and rewards. “You need to choose carefully for your reward and promotion prospects,” says Andrew Turner, who has worked in HR since 2002. “You may do very similar work with similar pressures, but different sectors attract different opportunities for you personally.”

Whatever you’re looking for in your next employer, you will always find support and vacancies at Personnel Today Jobs. For further tips and advice, including whether to you should undertake formal qualifications, check out our Complete HR Career Development Guide.

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