New shoots of growth are coming up in the human resources job market, as companies start to see turnover and recognize the need to focus on retaining talent in a postrecession market.
Human resources managers tired of doing more with less -- and for less -- have started seeing what else is out there, and that’s starting a game of musical executive chairs.
“We have a plethora of recruiting, talent acquisition, talent management and succession-planning searches,” says recruiter Beverly Morgan, a partner at staffing firm Winter, Wyman in Boston.
But the human resources management job market is still choppy enough that corporate employers can afford to be particular, adds Tom Santo, senior executive recruiter with Ajilon Professional Staffing in Melville, New York.
“With the amount of people on the market right now, clients have their pick of candidates,” he says. “The new thing we’re seeing is that companies are industry-focused. In the past, you could take someone from IT and bring them into financial services. Now, they want someone who’s turnkey, so candidates are having trouble switching industries.”
To steer your career toward a big human resources salary, focus on positions where you combine analytical tasks with communication and people skills. Jobs that focus on setting corporate culture, developing or executing training, designing compensation or career paths, and attracting or retaining exceptional employees can also lead to a big human resources salary, Santo says.
Working in those niches you’ll find some of the highest-paying human resources jobs, including these six with median total compensation (salary plus bonus) above $100,000, according to data from Salary.com, which powers Monster’s Salary Wizard:
Top Human Resources Executive: $269,669
To put yourself in line for the top HR management position, get a master’s degree in organizational development as well as HR certifications and pick up experience in strategic, analytical roles in organizations that are restructuring or transforming themselves, Santo says.
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Human Resources Director: $170,195
Pay for this human resources management position is highly dependent on company size and location. “I have a director spot on Long Island that pays $70,000 and director spots that pay over $250,000,” Santo says. “It depends on the size of the employee base, scope of the role and the geographic reach of the position -- global, domestic, regional etc.”
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Organizational Development Director: $152,150
If you can do both classroom training and build development courses, you’ll have more bargaining power in this human resources job. Start off this career path teaching training courses, then look for opportunities to add course design and succession-planning skills to build your resume. Many companies are combining development director positions with training director positions, which carry a slightly lower total compensation of $145,597.
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Executive Compensation Manager: $131,018
The number of openings for executive compensation managers outstrips the supply right now, so salaries are hitting the $140,000 to $150,000 range with a 15 percent to 20 percent bonus opportunity in the Northeast, Santo says. A compensation analyst with four to five years’ experience will see a $70,000 base. You can move into this position from a finance or accounting role if you’re willing to learn the human resources functions of the job.
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Change Management Specialist: $128,065
If you know how to build benefits and programs that add organizational flexibility or take corporate culture in a different direction, you’re in great demand in the current market. You’ll earn every dime of that salary coming up with low-cost ways to retain employees who’ve spent the past two years coming in earlier, staying later and not getting much in the way of raises and bonuses.
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International Human Resources Manager: $119,219
Having experience living outside the US, being multilingual, having an MBA and a Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR®) designation will move your resume to the top of the pile for this human resources job. You’re on the road for extended periods of time, which is either a benefit or a drawback depending on your outlook, Santo says.
Finds jobs in international human resources.
Regardless of which of these human resources positions you’d like to land, do what you can to draw attention to your expertise as a business analyst.
“Employers will look at what you’ve done to impact the business from a strategic standpoint,” Morgan says. “In your resume and during interviews, speak to how you helped transform your former company and what the net effect and measurable results were in your former positions.”
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