A dramatic rise in HR positions has pushed salaries to an all time high. The industry is also confident it will weather any economic storm. Richard Staines reports
The demand for senior HR professionals has never been higher than in the past year as the salaries they can command rise and the number of jobs in the sector increase.
Research by Salary Survey Publications shows that HR is a growing area with a third more jobs advertised in the sector over the last 12 months than in the previous year.
Figures reveal that since last year the number of HR director level jobs advertised increased by 11.2 per cent from 456 in the year to March 2000 to 507 in the year to March 2001.
Average advertised salaries increased from £61,100 to £69,420, although HR directors are often paid much more than this because of their overall benefits package and can demand salaries far in excess of those advertised.
At HR manager level, the number of jobs advertised increased even more dramatically from 2,801 in the year to March 2000 to 3,870 in the year to March 2001 - a rise of 38.2 per cent.
Their average advertised salaries jumped to £38,345, an increase of 5.6 per cent.
Amanda Molyneaux, HR systems and strategy adviser at Liverpool's John Moores University and the SSP report's author, says the high numbers of jobs available can partly be attributed to top HR directors leaving the profession to retire, creating a vacuum for younger people to fill.
She commented, "I would expect it to level out eventually because the days when most of the people in the top HR jobs were older are in the past.
"The younger people could stay at the top for a long time, meaning there could be fewer opportunities to move up."
Molyneaux believes this could account for the high staff turnover in the profession but adds that an increase in the number of available jobs could be a factor. "The fact that there is growth could fuel turnover. There has also been expansion in the recruitment industry, which is another sign of growth."
Recruitment consultant Maureen Convery at HR Personnel Partnership thinks the rise in HR jobs and pay shows that the HR profession is seen as playing an increasingly important role.
She added, "It is the flavour of the month and the industry has become very attractive to young people.