An analysis of LinkedIn data is the latest evidence of the growing recognition of human resources as a business-critical function since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Five of the 25 fastest growing roles in the U.S. since 2018 belong to HR, according to an analysis of job titles on the site.
Emerging areas are represented with positions like human resources analytics manager (No. 2), diversity and inclusion manager (No. 3), and employee experience manager (No. 5), as are traditional HR titles like chief people officer (No. 15) and head of rewards (No. 21). The leading position on the list is head of revenue operations.
“Over the last few years, largely as a result of the pandemic, employers have had to shift many times and in many ways to meet the changing needs and demands of workers, figuring out how to offer the right mix of flexibility and benefits to retain current employees and to attract new talent,” said Andrew Seaman, managing editor for jobs and career development at LinkedIn News. “And now, in this uncertain time, employers have become even more hyper-focused on keeping their best people engaged, satisfied and committed to their company. As a result, HR roles have become more necessary and more niche, with roles like employee experience manager making the annual list for the first time this year.”
The data indicates that HR is increasingly being perceived as strategic and that the ability to craft a winning employee experience will be crucial to help retain and attract employees and meet business goals.
“It’s really exciting news for HR,” said Laura Mazzullo, founder and owner of East Side Staffing, a New York City-based recruiting firm focused on the placement of HR professionals. It’s also not necessarily intuitive, she said. “Normally in an economic downturn you see more general roles and less specialized ones. And when times are better, HR usually has more money to spend on a larger team and can break out into specializations like employee experience or DE&I [diversity, equity and inclusion].”
Mazzullo added that the rise in breakout roles is much needed in HR as the profession has been hammered in recent years and burnout has proliferated.
“HR generalists have had to wear too many hats,” she said. “When you have specialists doing what they do best, they are able to transform a company in those areas. Typically, someone who has a passion in one area of HR gets really excited to excel in that thing. An employee experience manager will be excited to focus on employee experience and not also have to manage benefits.”
Other than the chief people officer role, salaries for the top HR positions ranged from about $40,000 to $145,000, according to LinkedIn. Big cities like New York City, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., are the top hiring locations, and about a quarter of the roles offered remote availability. The most sought-after skill across HR disciplines was employee engagement.
Unfortunately, it’s not that easy for generalists to cross over into specialized HR roles unless it’s done internally, Mazzullo said. “I encourage people to make those transitions in their current company before they try to do it somewhere else, then they can leverage that new role and title when they job search.”
She said this is a great time to initiate new career paths internally, especially if companies want to retain talent. “If you’re an HR generalist feeling unsatisfied and disengaged, and you have a vision of what you want to do, one option is to ask your manager to help design a role for you. A lot of these DE&I and employee experience roles are being built from scratch, so employers might as well look for somebody who’s really pumped to lead those areas.”