HR Hiring Stays Flat, but HR Pros Feel Confident

Flexibility to balance work and life tops pay as a reason for staying put

By Stephen Miller, CEBS Jul 28, 2016
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HR professionals say they feel more secure in their jobs and have greater confidence in their career choice, although hiring has remained flat for human resource positions.

The Summer 2016 HR Jobs Pulse Survey Report, published by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) on July 28, reveals that fewer HR professionals are looking for new work compared with a year ago. However, those who aren't happy in their current HR positions are seeking better pay and more opportunities to advance their careers, according to randomly selected SHRM members surveyed in April.

"The vast majority of HR professionals—88 percent—expressed some confidence they could land a new position, if needed," said Alex Alonso, Ph.D., SHRM-SCP, senior vice president of knowledge development at SHRM. While that figure is unchanged from last summer, it's up from 79 percent in January 2014, Alonso noted.

Although most HR professionals are content with their current positions, others are in the market for new work, the survey shows.

  • Nearly  1 in 5 respondents (19 percent) said they were already looking for a new job.

  • Another 18 percent said it was likely or very likely that they would voluntarily begin looking for a job within the next 12 months.

  • Among those looking or planning to pursue a new job, 42 percent cited more compensation as the top reason for the job search. Another 37 percent pointed to better career advancement opportunities.

But more than 2 in 5 (41 percent) said they continue to work at their current organization because of flexibility to balance work and life issues.

"The findings show just how critical flexible work arrangements continue to be for retention for both HR professionals and employees overall," noted Alonso.

HR Job Openings

Fewer than 3 in 10 respondents (27 percent) said their organizations were hiring for HR positions, the same percentage as last summer but up from 20 percent in January 2014.

Just 4 percent of small companies (1-99 employees) were advertising for HR positions, while more than three-fourths (78 percent) of employers with 25,000 or more workers were hiring for HR jobs.

Generalists continued to be the most sought-after HR professionals, the same as last year.


Top HR Functions Sought by Employers
(Only those whose organizations were currently hiring were asked this question)

HR Position Percentage seeking to fill this positon, among employers with HR openings
HR generalist49%
Employment/recruitment31%
Administrative15%
Benefits14%
Employee relations13%
Compensation9%
Training/development9%
Organizational development8%
Other HR function6%
HR information systems (HRIS)4%

Source: Summer 2016 HR Jobs Pulse Survey Report (SHRM) 

Skills Improvement

Many HR professionals indicated they plan to improve their skills in the near future. About two-thirds said they would be focused on developing HR competencies in the next 6 to 12 months in order to advance their careers.

To achieve that goal, 66 percent of respondents plan to take classes or seminars such as those provided by a professional organization. Another 28 percent said they would obtain a professional certification. 

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