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What is the HR industry really like in the modern job market?

By Rosa Ritchie | 27 June 2016


Making a career change or thinking about how you can advance in your current employment can be daunting tasks. There are countless issues to factor when deciding which career path to pursue, and whether or not you’ll find it rewarding in the long run.

While some careers are attractive now, their long term prospects mightn’t be as rewarding as others. Similarly, some sectors are just continuing to grow. Whether you can find a job, how much it will pay, and whether there are options for career progression are all important considerations when looking at a particular sector or deciding between multiple options.

This article aims to give you an idea of how a career in HR compares in the modern job market including salaries, job availability, sector growth and opportunities for professional development and career progression. The good news is that if you’re considering a career in HR or looking to advance in the profession now is a pretty great time!

Are there enough jobs?

A good way to think about HR is that it is an essential part of every organisation, whether it’s a large multi-national company, a charity, school, or private business. Workplaces can’t run without staff, and HR make sure staff are well suited to the work, trained appropriately and able to help the organisation achieve its objectives. Starting from this point gives you an idea of the opportunities available to those with the right skills.

Over the past decade, job openings for Human Resources Professionals rose significantly in Australia and this job growth is expected to continue. This is great news for those working in the sector as well as those thinking about a career in HR. From now until 2019, Government figures estimate the number of jobs available in this industry will be above average at 25,000 – 50,000.

That’s potentially 10,000 job openings every year, which is a good sign for those hoping to upskill and transition to this area. Employment growth and turnover includes new jobs as well as positions opening as people leave for other employment, meaning there will be good opportunities for people of all levels of skills and experience, not just those starting out. 

Human Resources is a very large occupation in Australia, with 56,100 people employed in the industry in 2014. This means that opportunities for work should be readily available nationwide and aren’t limited to a particular State or Territory. So chances are, if you’re looking to begin or advance your career in HR there will be opportunities for you in the area you’re living.

Plus there are exciting new developments in programatic HR with things like the Upskilled Talent Community.

How do the salaries compare?

Making a change in your career or thinking about investing in further qualifications can be life changing decisions so it’s understandable to want some assurance that this hard work will pay off. The good news for those looking at HR is that according to Government statistics, HR is one of the few professions where it is possible to earn a higher salary while working fewer hours. Which is a pretty good deal if you ask us.

The amount of professionals working in HR employed full time is well above the national average at 81%, with work hours being slightly less than average. The national average full time hours in Australia are 40.9, while HR professionals average a 37.5 hour week. This means your chances of gaining a full time position are higher, but your work hours aren’t likely to be too long.

Are there opportunities for career progression?

Knowing you will be able to advance in your profession and have your skill growth recognised is an important part of choosing a career and setting your career goals. Fortunately, the job prospects for the HR industry as a whole are similar at higher levels. A good example of an opportunity to progress in HR is the position of a Human Resources Manager, which sees a higher income, slightly longer working hours and job growth.

A huge 89.2% of HR Managers are employed on a full time basis, and the opportunities for job openings in these positions are above the national average. While the average working week is slightly longer than HR Professionals at 42.1 hours, this is reflected in the salary of this position which is considerably higher than average.

The average weekly earnings for HR Managers is $1750, which is almost twice the national average of $950! Like the HR profession more generally, employment opportunities have grown for HR Managers significantly over the past ten years, and this growth is expected to continue. HR Management is a large occupation employing approximately 44,900 people nationally. With job turnover and sector growth set to continue, opportunities for career progression in HR are a pretty safe bet.

What skills and knowledge will progress my career?

Ensuring you continue to develop your skills, seek opportunities to build on your experience and undertake additional training and education when appropriate are all good ways to stay on track with a career in HR. The opportunities for promotion are there, so make sure you’re an excellent candidate when the time comes.

Communication is a major skill for HR Managers, including clear written communication. Some simple ways to build your skills in this area include giving your full attention to people when they’re speaking, taking the time to listen and understand their issue or concern, asking necessary questions and making sure they’re not interrupted.

Written communication can be improved by writing in a way that is clear and concise. Keeping sentences short and to the point, and applying rules or discussing issues in a straightforward manner are simple ways to improve your professional writing. Remember, less is more.

Being perceptive is also a major skill for those wanting to advance their careers. This includes making sure you’re aware of people’s reactions and perceptions, and factoring these in to your professional communications. This is particularly relevant when managing complaints or facilitating negotiations, challenges often faced by HR Managers.

A broad knowledge base is another important factor in progressing your HR career. This involves being familiar with the principles and procedures of HR tasks such as recruitment, compensation and benefits and negotiations.

Administration and management experience is also important, including knowing how to apply business principles and engage with the organisation’s broader goals and strategies. Leadership techniques, customer service principles and customer evaluation are other key areas to develop.

If you enjoy working with people to help them achieve their best, like to solve problems and tackle challenges, and believe in continuing to stay up to date and engaged with your profession, then a career in HR may be a rewarding long term career choice.
 

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