Pulse Report: HR Professionals Confident in Job Prospects

By Kathy Gurchiek July 17, 2015
Job opportunities for human resource professionals have been flat since the beginning of 2015, but a vast majority of HR practitioners are now confident they could land a new job if needed, according to the HR Jobs Pulse Survey Report that the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) released July 16, 2015.

The findings are from a May 2015 online survey of 423 randomly selected SHRM members at early-career, midcareer, senior and executive levels. They were asked about hiring trends in the HR profession, and their faith in their job security and their ability to find work elsewhere.

Eighty-eight percent of HR professionals had some level of confidence that they could land a new position.That confidence “aligns with what’s happening in the job market,” said Jen Schramm, SHRM-SCP, manager of workforce trends at SHRM. “HR professionals are kind of a leading indicator for a lot of things. They’re confident because they know in their organization they’re filling a lot of jobs and they’re a lot more aware of job market fluctuations and job market data.”

That data includes the quits rate, which HR professionals know “has a direct impact on their ability to recruit. That translates into how they strategize their own careers,” and impacts their feelings of job security and their ability to make changes in their own jobs, Schramm added.

Where Are the Jobs?

HR professionals seeking generalist jobs are likely to find the most openings. Among respondents, 55 percent said their companies are hiring for that position.

Employment/recruitment positions were a distant second (24 percent) among a list of top 10 functions that employers were seeking to fill, according to the Pulse survey. Positions in organizational development were at the bottom of the list; only 4 percent said their employer was hiring in this area.

Confidence levels in finding another HR position were highest among executive, senior and midcareer level professionals (89 percent total). However, three-fourths of those early in their career also expressed confidence in their ability to land another HR job elsewhere.

The SHRM report suggests that this increased confidence “may be due to improved conditions in the broader labor market.” There were 5.4 million job openings overall in both April and May 2015, the highest number since December 2000 when the Bureau of Labor Statistics started tracking that metric.

Among survey respondents currently looking or planning to look for another job, more than two-thirds said they wanted to stay in HR. More than one-third cited the desire for more compensation or pay as the reason they were seeking another job or considering it.

Many HR professionals are planning to improve their job skills in the near future, the survey found, with nearly two-thirds indicating they would focus on developing HR competencies in the next six to 12 months so as to advance their careers.

Slightly more than half said their primary driver in seeking training was their belief that they needed the development, and 17 percent said trends in their field indicated a need for specific competencies. Among the findings, which allowed for multiple answers:

  • 61 percent plan to take classes or seminars offered by a professional organization, a trade group or from a private training organization.
  • 35 percent plan to earn a professional certification.
  • 34 percent would take classes or seminars at an educational institution.
This interest in developing themselves speaks well for HR practitioners, Schramm said.

“They think this is a good time to build their skills and competencies so they can take advantage of these job opportunities,” she said. “It’s not like they’re being told by their boss [that they have to do this]. They’re taking it upon themselves to do it.”

The picture from the Pulse survey, Schramm said, “is one of more optimism.”

Kathy Gurchiek is the associate editor at HR News. Follow her @KathyGurchiek.

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