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The Job Market for HR Talent Is Hotter than Tech

December 22, 2021 Talent Management
Lance Haun
By Lance Haun

If you’re an HR or recruiting leader, you may find your LinkedIn and email inboxes overflowing these days, filled with requests from other companies hoping to secure your talents. Whether that's news to you or not, you’re in high demand. 

It’s true: The job market has seen a historic shift in the past year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics' September Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) report found a quit rate of 4 percent, or 4.4 million people, for the month. That rate is the highest the bureau has ever measured overall.

But the quit rate isn’t the only measure to monitor. Job site Indeed has been following the recovery using the number of job postings on their website. In November, job listings had grown more than 50 percent compared to pre-pandemic, on Feb. 1, 2020. Perhaps not surprising since anyone who has had to hire people in the past few months knows that competition is fierce. Almost every profession is in higher demand.

HR Is in Demand

Of the occupational sectors that Indeed tracks, human resources is second only to loading and stocking jobs in terms of the growth of the number of job postings. With a 105.8 percent growth since February 2020, the HR sector even beats out software development (93.8 percent) as one of the most in-demand jobs in the country.

That’s a lot of jobs. And I've experienced this growth firsthand. In the past six months I’ve received more LinkedIn invites than I ever have asking me to apply for HR jobs or refer others for thousands of dollars. I had to make sure my job title was updated as I haven’t worked in HR or recruiting since the beginning of President Barack Obama’s first term. 

So, what’s going on? There are two sides of the high-demand equation that are worth exploring. Let’s start with the positives. 

Recognition of the Essential Nature of Talent

As the pandemic raged on, HR has had to continuously update their job description, adding more responsibilities that became increasingly critical to economic growth after the first wave of COVID-19. 

It wasn’t just about understanding all of the thorny compliance issues, though being able to interpret OSHA legalese was a plus. It was also about understanding culture, engagement, training and change management necessary to make the monumental shifts that so many organizations went through so fast. 

You could make the argument, like industry veteran Josh Bersin did in a recent interview, that HR has been “really doing heroic things.” This was, after all, a moment that many leaders had waited for: A recognition of the importance of doing all the big and little things in talent — and doing them well. Organizations can’t do that at scale without a solid HR and recruiting function. 

An investment in HR, in hiring, better employee experience, training and well-being, to name a few, seems long overdue. While technology investment has been a focus for some time now, the people imperative that's been topping corporate agendas this year is one factor that’s likely driving higher demand for seasoned HR professionals. 

Related Article: Digital Transformation Came for HR. Where Do We Go Now?

Burnout Is a Factor, Too

While it would be great to stay positive, another factor driving demand for HR pros has to be the state of burnout that many HR professionals have had to cope with over the past two years. From changing work situations, to wading through illnesses, masks, vaccines, workplace safety and more, talent leaders have exhausted themselves trying to hit moving targets for the better part of the past two years.

Though there’s not a lot of evidence that experienced HR leaders are leaving in droves, I don't doubt a certain percentage of folks are now heading for a change of scenery — one that they hope might be a better fit for their talents. 

HR Should Follow the Example from Tech Talent

Being in demand is an opportunity for talent professionals. If you’ve felt stuck or are looking for specific opportunities, there’s no better time than now. If you’re looking for a different work environment, there’s more variety than ever before. Some many not necessarily be looking for a new role, but one bad week may have a person take a call from a recruiter and make a more reactive decision.

Yet, it’s important to be thoughtful about a job change. Do you really want to change, or has it just been a lousy few weeks? Have you taken a look at the job market recently? What other changes would you be looking for? What would you hope to keep from your current position?

Whether you come out of this period with a new job or not, try to find whatever opportunity you can to celebrate the wins during a tough two years. Organizations need experienced HR people, and they increasingly recognize the importance of the role. So, take full advantage of the demand and position yourself for a hopefully smoother 2022.

About the Author

Lance Haun lives life at the intersection of people, work and technology. He's currently a practice director of strategy and insights for The Starr Conspiracy and a contributor for Reworked and ERE.net.

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