What are the career options in HR?

“The irony is that businesses are not able to find many good HR professionals coming from premier institutes. The result is demand supply gap of HR professionals!”

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Recently, I was talking to the director of a top management institute. We were discussing about various specializations like finance, marketing that students are opting. He expressed his concern on the poor turnout for HR specialization. Same was the case at another global institute which withdrew the HR specialization due to poor enrollment of students. On the other hand, there are specialized institutes in India like XLRI, Jamshedpur and Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai who offer HR stream in their management education. Overall, the scenario in premier institutes is short supply of graduates with HR specializations.

career options in HR

There are many companies which require efficient HR hands as a part of their scale up. They believe in HR function to add value to their employee satisfaction and retention. As the business grows, they need more HR professionals to handle the needs of employees. The irony is that they don’t find so many good HR professionals coming from premier institutes. The result is demand-supply gap of students who want career options in HR!

A quick look at the above aspects might help in better understanding of HR function.

Is HR truly a soft, non-business function?

The general perception is that people in HR are soft, mild mannered, courteous and generally subservient to other business functions. While it is partly true that HR professionals are expected to demonstrate greater restraint during their interactions of employees, it is not true that they are mild.

On the other hand, it is also true that HR is viewed as a staff function or support function, which is generally not involved in direct business operations. They may not have concrete revenues or profits to show as their contribution! However, the enablement role of HR is too vital for business success. HR department is expected to support and enable other revenue generating functions to perform. Many organisations do recognize the value of HR! HR managers may not be kings, but they are kingmakers!

Pay and growth prospects: 

pay and growthIt is baseless to think that pay in support function like HR is lower and not valued at par with others! Over the past 15 years, the salaries of HR have been revised drastically. They are now at par with some of the other business functions or sometimes even higher! Moreover, the entry level salaries for Management Trainees are not usually differentiated based on the areas of specialization. Vertical growth in terms of designations and hikes in pay are dependent on the performance (like in any other function). The only caveat is the lack of sufficient examples of growing into a business head or CEO role. In India, we do see a limitation of HR people growing into head business. Alternatively, seasoned professionals can grow into becoming business consultants.

Reward and Recognition: 

rewards and recognitionIs HR’s contribution valued, recognized and rewarded in organisations? In my view, the answer is YES! However, the recognition does not necessarily come because it is HR function, but it comes because of your competence and contribution. If you carry yourself as a highly-value adding individual, recognition is going to be yours! In future columns, we will discuss more about competencies required to become a respected HR professional, and the several career options in HR!

If HR is required in organisations, valued by business leaders and offers decent pay checks, then what else is required for you to take a plunge into HR career? You must have a deep understanding of what is expected of the HR function and what are the competencies required to perform those roles. Such understanding will address the apprehensions if any and enhance your preparedness for deciding among career options in HR.

Watch out this column for continued discussion on the above aspects!

This article was published in: 

HR Mirror

Hans India

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