HR Career Advice
How to get a job as an HR Director
If you're looking to move up to HR Director level – or even further – we've pulled together our list of top tips to help you get there. Our Executive recruitment team will also be able to provide you confidential one-to-one advice.
Understanding the beast
As with many jobs, the position may vary greatly depending on the size and sector of the organisation you work in. Generally the position of HR director is strategic, although within smaller organisations an HR director may be more operational, and have a considerably smaller team, so be prepared for that. In larger organisation you will be expected to delegate much more, while staying on top of everything.
Depending on the sector, you may be dealing with unions. If the company you're looking to work for is unionised, it will operate under a union contract that governs many conditions of the workplace – which presents an entirely new kind of challenge that you should be prepared for.
Overall, make sure you do your homework and fully understand the nature of the organisation and the role you will be taking on, especially if you are moving to another business/sector.
Transferable knowledge/sector experience
Within senior level recruitment, you will definitely have an advantage coming from the same or similar sector, as you'll need to be able to get in and lead from the front. If you are looking to change sector, ensure you list all the similarities and transferable knowledge you can bring from your current sector to your desired one, and be prepared to make your case for understanding it. Where you see a potential gap in your knowledge, make sure you research this thoroughly so you can talk confidently about issues in the sector.
Walk the walk
In your career to date you've probably have many instances of "I would do it that way". Well now you can. If you're looking to take a running jump into a director level position, start instigating those changes in your current role. If there's something that's not working, propose and deliver a solution; if you're not getting much face time with the CEO, find credible reasons to interact and make sure you can communicate effectively in their language. Overall, make sure your team delivers everything that is asked of them, and more. If you start acting like an HRD now, you'll be much more convincing when you get there!
Head for figures
Something you may not like, but as a Director you'll have to start speaking the language of business, and that means money. From your own departmental budget, to company sales figures and tax implications, you'll be expected to understand it and communicate it. Reed Learning offers a great Finance for non-financial managers course, so that could be a good place to start.
Group HR Director - Running a committee
Experience or understanding of running a remuneration committee is key if you're looking to go global – as this could end up being up to 30% of the job. In this case we recommend shadowing relevant people in your organisation, or connecting with relevant people on LinkedIn if your organisation does not have them. In an international role you'll be dealing with HR issues across global boundaries and need to be sensitive to cross-cultural issues, so speaking more than one language and an understanding of cultural differences would also be helpful.
To be a successful HRD you need to be a certain type of person - one who can deal with any and every kind of personality. You'll have to maintain your equanimity as you move between meetings, job applicant interviews, compliance and health-and-safety, and impromptu sessions with disgruntled managers. Your days will be chock-full of people.
It also helps if you organize your time well, because "multi-tasking" and juggling projects will be your life. You'll need to know the rule book inside out and not be afraid to implement it. Be prepared for the fact that individuals in the organisation may have varying opinions and assumptions about your department, and be ready to approach each accordingly.
Make sure you're qualified
There will be an expectation for an HR Director to have a degree, if not an MBA or other post-graduate qualification. But CIPD qualifications are also essential. At this stage, you will need to be aiming for level 7, which can include:
- award in HR (Advanced level award in HR)
- certificate (Advanced level certificate in HR)
- diplomas (Advanced level diploma in HR Management or HR Development (These replace and are equivalent to the previous CIPD Professional Development Scheme (PDS)))
*CIPD Level 7 Advanced qualifications are comparable to European Qualifications Framework (EQF) level 7 and level 11 and 9 for Scotland and Ireland respectively. They are equivalent to a postgraduate level qualification. Visit the CIPD website for more details.
4 jobs in UK
What does the role entail?
This HR Manager Job will suit someone who is looking for their first step up in to management and can be guided and moulded, or on the flip side an experienced HR Manager who can make the role their own from day 1.
You will as HR Manager have a HR Assistant report in to you from 2 European countries, where you will help them with their personal development, as well as being able to advise on a variety or HR matters including Recruitment, ER and Performance Management as well as policy setting. You will also have these responsibilities solely in the London office too. As well as all HR duties including some HR Administration, contract creation, 360 recruitment and onboarding, you will also be responsible for training staff on the intranet and have a variety of Office Management tasks – some of which can be delegated. As you will report directly in to the CEO and MD you will provide some PA duties and will also be involved in ad hoc projects, sometimes outside of the HR norm.
What does the role entail?
As Group HR Manager you will develop the full HR function and be the lead on setting strategy as well as developing a culture change within this diverse organisation. You will also deliver leadership development strategies, assess and implement a HR system across the business, benchmark salaries and benefits through the group as well as helping to build their companywide recruitment model. You must be prepared to create models, strategies and policies for a diverse workforce that does not necessarily follow the norm. You will be part of the senior leadership team making sure the HR function is properly aligned with all core business functions - meeting, exceeding and satisfying the business needs, goals and values.
What does the role entail?
As the HR Manager you will be working within head office alongside 2 other HR Managers, where you will be working with the restaurant Managers setting and implementing policies and procedures, assisting them with all ER matters including Performance Management, disciplinaries and grievances, appraisals, maternity and paternity rights as well as all other areas that HR cover with regards to employment law. You will carry out the full 360 recruitment function, advertising jobs, screening applicants and at times assisting with the interview process, this will also cover the onboarding and leaver process. You will configure and run the Payroll for 5-600 staff, ensure all training is carried out, delivering some of this yourself as well as controlling the wage budget.
This will be a varied Generalist HR Manager role so please expect other duties as well as the above.
• Ensure on-time delivery of group headcount growth plan.
• Oversee recruitment of replacements to ensure maintenance of headcount numbers.
• Calculation and management of group recruitment cost budget.
• Management of vacancy authorisation process including chairing of weekly recruitment meetings.
• Interview manager-level and other senior candidates.
Employee Relations and Engagement
• Ensure maintenance and review of employee engagement initiatives including:
• Partner with management and directors to communicate policies and procedures.
• Lead communication of changes and news in collaboration with other directors and making full use of the intranet as a communication channel.
• Determine and recommend employee relations and employee performance practises to ensure positive outcomes and compliance with local law.
Organisation Development and International Growth
• Lead and implement organisation development work such as succession planning, employee retention and change management.
• Identify and monitor the company’s culture. Highlight areas of concern which might be working against the company’s goals and objectives and suggest remedies when possible.
• Ensure that new offices and departments are adequately staffed including recruitment locally and employee transfers.
• Work with local legal advisors to create package of contractual and other documents for employees in suitable for each new office location.
• Review training needs and ensure that training is provided in order to meet the training requirements of the company.
• Monitor the quality and relevance of sessions within the training cycles.
• Select external training programmes and providers with the Training Coordinator.
• Monitor spending of the training budget.
Technology and Processes
• Ensure that the HRIS fulfils the department and the company’s requirements.
• Work with IT to make changes and request software upgrades when necessary.
• Ensure that data entry and recording completed by HR team members is consistent and of high quality.
• Ensure that the data contained in the software is confidential and protected in compliance with data protection laws and that viewing or inputting rights are only granted to people who need them.
• Lead the implementation of performance management initiatives.
• Protect the integrity of the formal procedures and ensure that they are implemented correctly.
• Advise managers and supervisors in the progressive disciplinary procedure including coaching them prior to formal hearings.
• Review recommendations for employee dismissals; guide, approve and attend dismissal meetings.
• Ensure that dismissals are handled in compliance with the law and existing company precedents in order to minimise the risk of legal complaints.
Legal and Contracts
• Protect the company’s legal interests and lead compliance in respect of people management, employee complaints (pre- and post-termination) and terminations themselves.
• Advise line managers and directors in how to comply with the law and protect the company’s interests.
• Direct the preparation of information requested or required for compliance with employment law and approve all information submitted.
• Serve (in collaboration with Head of Legal) as the primary contact with legal advisors in employment or post-employment disputes.