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So you want to be an HR director?

Posted on from Robert Walters

The role of HR director is very popular as it's widely considered to be one of the top positions in HR and what most HR generalists aspire to become, but how do you get there?

What's happening the HR market?

Although the HR recruitment market has improved across all sectors, most of the movement we have seen has been in the £30-70k bracket. At the very senior level, roles are still few and far between. That said, we are recruiting more HR directors now than we were this time last year.

What is the role of an HR director?

Generally the position of HR director is strategic, although the extent to which this is the case can vary depending on the size of the business. Within smaller organisations an HR director may be more operational than they would be within a large corporate, for example.

The types of task HR directors are usually responsible for can also vary depending on employer. Typical responsibilities may include:

  • Change management
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Involvement and implementation of various HR initiatives, such as succession planning and talent management.

An HR director would work closely with senior stakeholders and would typically report directly to the CEO or COO, and would in most cases sit on the board.

What does it take to be an HR director?

Competition for these roles is fierce, however there are some common features employers look for. The ideal background for an HR director would be someone who is currently a senior HR business partner or a head of HR, or someone who is already an HR director looking for a change. Specific sector experience is generally considered important at this level, however there is likely to be crossover between closely aligned sectors within commerce (e.g. retail and FMCG, media & advertising, telecommunications and technology).

Most employers also tend to value stability and clear career progression on CVs. Businesses also look for candidates who can demonstrate experience of:

  • Introducing new HR initiatives
  • The ability to influence change and experience of leading a team
  • Restructuring experience is also particularly valued

As HR directors represent the people within their business, great interpersonal and communication skills are a must, as is excellent commercial acumen. Employers also look for broad generalist HR experience and for candidates who are passionate about their industry.

Example job specification

HR director job description >>

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