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Top job – the HR director

Posted on from Robert Walters

What does it take to be an HR director? Martyn Wright, director of HR recruitment at Robert Walters, explains what skills you need to demonstrate to secure this highly sought-after position.

Seeking an HRD role?

Securing an HR director job is tough. If you apply for an HRD role, you’ll be faced with strong competition from both inside and outside the organisation.

There are some common factors that employers look for when hiring. Ideally, you’ll 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 in employer.

Specific sector experience is generally considered important at this level, particularly in financial and professional services. But there is likely to be crossover between closely aligned sectors within commerce (e.g. retail & FMCG, media & advertising, and telecommunications & technology).

Have you got what it takes?

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

•    Commercial understanding of the business
•    Knowledge of the positive impact of HR on the bottom line
•    Credible representation of HR at board level
•    Occupational development, change and restructuring experience

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.

Tough competition

HR director roles are very popular as they’re widely considered to be one of the top positions in HR and what most HR generalists aspire to become. So competition for these jobs is always intense.

Although the HR recruitment market has proved challenging over the past 18 months, most of the movement we have been seeing has been at the mid (i.e. in the £30-70k salary bracket) rather than senior level. So there aren’t many of these roles available at the moment. But there is some good news – we’re recruiting more HR directors now than we were this time last year.

Example job description

Role: UK HR director
Salary: £100k+

This global marketing group seeks a new UK HR director to contribute to the growth of its UK business by driving high-calibre forward-thinking HR practices, which maximise company performance and improve employee satisfaction across the business.

Reporting to the Group CEO, the successful candidate’s responsibilities will include translating HR strategy into initiatives and policies that enable the business to recruit and retain the best people. As a board member, he or she will also be responsible for representing HR to senior management and informing them of its wider contribution to the business.

Specifically, one of the successful candidate’s key duties will be to establish a new talent management framework. This will include defining clear measurable goals and objectives for board members’ performance to be assessed against and working closely with the group finance director to develop an appropriate reward strategy for the rest of the business.

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