Any illusion that the war for talent is over should quickly be dismissed. Recruitment experts are saying that although the economy is far from booming, demand is outstripping supply in the jobs market.
"Good quality HR people are hard to get and increasingly harder to keep," says Susanna Mitterer, managing director of people and organisational development company TMI UK. John Baker, director of search and selection at recruitment agency Hodes, which includes
MacMillan Davies Hodes, agrees. "HR people are becoming more discerning about career and job choices at all levels," he says.
In part, this stems from increased levels of job security. The latest Global Career Confidence Index, from Right Management Consultants, reveals this has continued to grow over the past six months. But there is a downside, as Jo Bond, managing director of consultancy RightCoutts, explains. "Confident workers are more likely to look outside their current employer for career development opportunities, leading to costly increases in staff turnover," she says.
While the HR market remains buoyant, the emphasis is on adding value. "Although the transformation of HR functions may mean there will be fewer jobs in total, the ability to contribute within these roles will continue to increase," says John Ingham, principal consultant at Penna Consulting.
So what are the hot HR skills for 2005? Business know-how, leadership, emotional intelligence, change management expertise, organisational development, resourcing and talent management skills are all highlighted as must-haves.
In too many organisations, HR operates as a silo, says Helen Rosethorn, chief executive at Hodes. "The more innovative HR leaders are striving to join up HR practices, led by an unashamed focus on meeting business objectives and proving the bottom line contribution of HR," she says.
With continual pressure on HR to re-invent itself as a strategic force within the organisation, its role may well become more one of consultant and, as a result, project management skills will be required, as will the ability to network, says Bond.
The importance of specialisation will increase, giving HR professionals scope to develop expertise in areas such as compensation and benefits, HR policy and employment relations. Other areas of interest include meeting specific business needs, such as HR support in mergers and acquisitions or outsourcing business processes and HR. But outside the l