Get That Job: Human Resources Developer
Human Resources Developers are responsible for the strategic implementation of all processes developing people throughout their professional lives at a company. From onboarding to succession planning.
But how do you become one?
There are two major education flows into Human Resources; one coming from Business Degrees (like an MBA in Human Resources), and the other from the Social Studies (such as Organizational or Behavioral Studies). From the viewpoint of the profession, both modes of entries are equally valid.
As HR Developer requires a greater amount of insight into processes and organizational structures than an HR Generalist, it would be preferable to achieve an advanced degree if possible, or to augment a study in HR with a degree in Learning Psychology or Project Management.
It is also possible to grow into the function organically from within a company, in which case the education has little relevance, but the function is entirely carried by experience and elective self-education.
Human Resource Development Functions
Job Role Definitions
Creating role descriptions for jobs, including requirements and performance indicators
Guiding and advising employees on professional growth and opportunities
Low to Medium
Setting up requirements for recruitment, doing interviews and assessments
Settling in new people in the company, point of contact and creating onboarding material
Learning & Development
Strategizing on L&D, including Learning Management Systems, Requirements and the process for required qualifications
Defining and guiding employees defined as Talent to ensure professional growth
Medium to High
Strategy, tooling and processes for performance management
Medium to High
Strategy and processes for ensuring promotion and education in case of people leaving the company, becoming unavailable or retiring
Medium to High
Strategizing and advising management on the functions listed above
Medium to High
Knowledge and application of laws and legislation on the functions listed above
Work History and Expertise
HR Development is a mid-career function in most companies, reporting to the local Head of Human Resources. However, in multinational companies it is often a shared function over a larger region, and in that case might report to a regional Head of Human Resources or a Vice President.
In addition to relevant education, knowledge of the company's internal processes and a strong network of stakeholders in the company is key. In this role you will be required to think strategically, and acquire support and feedback for your implementation projects.
This role shares similarities with consultancy, in that a major part will be advising upper or middle management on the most effective strategies to develop people to match with the company's business strategy.
To be an effective consultant also means remaining continually up to date on trends and technologies in your field, as well as being responsible for your own professional development (networking, writing articles, professional credibility).
People Person or Process Person?
When you want to become a HR Developer, you can approach this vocation from a People angle, meaning you focus on the value of people first, or the Process angle, which means you place greater importance on functional and transparent processes. Both of these approaches are complementary and equally valid.
Five Essential Skills for the HR Developer
- Being a good listener, for both management and employees
- Learning how to structure and abstract complicated situations
- Understand when to use tact, and when to sound the alarm
- Strong focus and an iron will
- Use minor adjustments to major effect
Being a Good Listener
Most of your work will deal with people, both employees and management, and they will have their opinions on what they would prefer to see in the available HR tooling. Employees might want more training, management might want stronger performance options, everyone may want to automate processes.
But HR works on a budget, and not all wishes can be satisfied in a regular work environment, at least not at once. So an important part of your work will be listening to people's input and finding the best compromises to improve people's ability to do their work.
Structuring and abstracting complicated situations
In Strategic Meetings, Management will often discuss the direction the company will take in their business needs, or according to changes in the market. These are great moments for you to shine by rephrasing the strategies in terms of HR and people management.
For example, if the management direction focuses on a completely new kind of product or service, you will be able to determine whether it would be better to develop an existing employee to a specialist in the new portfolio, or to hire an external candidate to take up that space.
This would mean setting up new requirements, and likely a new or adapted job role to deal with these responsibilities. Training and recruitment both require your input, and you are also needed to help onboard a new employee or provide guidance to a colleague undergoing retraining.
Sometimes, discussions about strategy and markets can become very abstract, relying more on numbers and scenario-thinking. In these cases, it is good to be able to bring the discussions down to manageable levels and ensure that everyone maintains an idea of what this means for the company, its people and processes.
Understanding when to use tact, and when to sound the alarm
Human Resources is often a political function, and you will be dealing with many situations where law and legislation touch upon your work. Do people have enough time to complete their training, or are the demands of their daily jobs infringing upon that?
To some degree, it is reasonable to assume that education and development will take a backseat to the business' needs, especially when companies reach the ends of their fiscal years.
However, it is important to know when your implementation of development tools and processes cannot be further pushed back, endangering future work. At that point, you need to be able to step up to management and advocate increased focus on development of the company's employees, who are as much a factor in the business as any other department or process.
Strong focus and an iron will
In your profession you will encounter many situations where your expertise will be challenged and your word will be questioned when it comes to critical decisions on people development. In those cases, you will need to stay strong in the face of management pressure and the interests of the business.
Determine for yourself which of these moments are critical to improve people's work lives, and which are not worth getting into a conflict over.
In the end, the priority must remain with the people's development into more capable professionals, while maintaining a transparent and effective set of processes to manage them with.
Business interests, unless they conflict with law and regulation, are a strong motivator for the company, and will in the long term be important for maintaining a budget for HR to guide people with. Each of your changes and challenges must serve to maximize the quality gained at the cost of money and time.
Use Minor Adjustments to Major Effect
In your daily job, find the small changes that have unexpectedly large impact on the work environment and processes. Making sure everyone is aware of any free corporate trainings, or online courses that people can take to improve their skill, for example. Or supplying management with a monthly list of people going beyond the scope of their duties for extra benefit for the company so that they can be properly recognized.
Above all, your greatest benefit to the company will be making sure that the processes for people development are understood, applied and that the tooling for them is functional.
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