shutterstock_151071425Green Park’s annual HR Talent & Trends survey (full report to be published in early September) has highlighted concern that there will be increased competition for HR roles over the next 12 months.  The view is that HR professionals who have remained in stable positions through the downturn, will now look for new roles – flooding the market with talent and making it highly competitive.

Whilst this is a valid concern, it does not take into account the fact that more companies are starting to implement growth plans and that this is translating into a greater number of new HR roles. According to our findings, the most important skills gaps to fill are Organisational Development (33%) and Heads of Talent (28%).

Organisational Development remains buoyant as companies continue to restructure for growth and work out how to increase productivity whilst reducing costs. Senior talent management positions are being driven by an increased focus on employee engagement as organisations strive to retain their top performers in what continues to be a challenging economic climate.

Regardless of the job title, candidates who have their hopes set on landing the best roles must be able to facilitate transformation, increase productivity and reduce costs. The focus remains on proving ROI as well as demonstrating business acumen. Flexibility is also important when there is increased competition candidates are realistic about this with 34% willing to relocate for the right position.

We are also seeing increased due diligence in the recruitment process compared to three years ago with more than half of all respondents (54%) confirming that this is the case. There are three main reasons; increased regulatory change, the drive to minimise risk and the increased influence and demand for change management specialists. These require a more in-depth assessment due to the higher level of responsibility and risk associated with large scale transformation programmes.

Interestingly, 40% of respondents believe that the Ulrich Model is no longer an effective organisational method and that it can lead to functions working in silos thus constraining HR professionals to narrow functions and potentially hampering their career development. This mirrors research we undertook last year with Henley School of Management which highlighted that increased organisational flexibility is required in today’s business environment.

Finally, it is encouraging to find a greater sense of optimism from HR professionals when it comes to the strategic contribution that they can make. We believe that now is prime time for ambitious HRDs to propel their careers towards a Boardroom role. Our network appear to agree as the three most valuable capabilities  cited by HR professionals over the next 12 months are the ability to influence (24%), commercial acumen (20%) and leadership skills (19%) – all key skills for operating at both Boardroom and HRD level.

 Jo Sweetland is a Partner and Head of HR Practice Green Park Interim & Executive Search