We’ve reached the point where HR without technology is incomprehensible. Granted, the level of integration of cloud, mobile and social tech differs between organisations, with some fully embracing them and others sticking to the bare minimum of automation tools. As the modus operandi at HR departments evolves so would, one would assume, the skills checklist of an HR professional. I decided to take a closer look into the hiring trends of HR professional’s tech pertinent skills, by looking at job postings for various types of HR professionals and checking out the specific tech requirements.
Research by Deloitte reveals that “less than 8% of HR leaders have confidence that their teams have the skills needed to meet the challenge of today’s global environment and consistently deliver innovative programs that drive business impact.” While analytics is currently one of the top 5 most urgent trends for organisations, 88% of HR professionals evaluate their skills to fully take advantage of it as “not ready” or “somewhat ready”. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that the candidates with the skills and experience to unfold and extract full value from analytics tools are currently in high demand. As search at Indeed.com produces hundreds of open positions in this field and most have requirements like
- Bachelor’s Degree in Information Systems/Computer Science or mathematical field such as Statistics, Operations Research, Actuarial Science or Applied Mathematics
- Familiarity with statistical packages, R and/or SQL. Familiarity with writing scripts, visual basic, basic coding a plus
- Proficiency with PCs, including word processing, SAS applications, spreadsheet, database, reporting, and presentation software
According to a study by Software Advice, when it comes to payroll jobs, 70% of UK companies are looking for candidates with software knowledge. Furthermore, 46% required or preferred experience with integrated HR suites. When compared to the North American and Australian markets it appears that the UK is not yet as demanding of its candidates to have solid software knowledge, however, the fact remains that the majority of job ads in all three markets include dexterity with HR software as one of the required skills. The specific requirements include:
- Advanced PeopleSoft query skills, ability to operate and report from SAP and (ideally) experience of AssignmentPro
- Experience in Kronos or other payroll software is preferred
- Ceridian or Ceridian DayForce Payroll experience preferred
- Experienced in ADP Workforce software, including the Reportwriter and Multi-jurisdiction coding
Whether Applicant Tracking Software is helping or hindering hiring managers’ search for talent is not as relevant here – the need for tech skills goes beyond ATS to such areas as analytics, sourcing and employer branding. Repeating the exercise of scanning through job adverts for recruiters/hiring/talent acquisition managers yields the following list of tech-related skills requirements:
- Experience and/or familiarity with Human Resource Information Systems
- Recent experience surfacing candidates through online data mining, social networks, etc
- Experience with an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) or like tool
- Must be highly computer literate and internet savvy with experience in mining online databases.
Interestingly, positions for Talent Management professionals are far less demanding of tech skills than other areas of HR. Can we infer that technology does not have as strong a foothold in talent management? Some of the few requirements discovered are:
- Experience in using a variety of L&D, talent and performance management systems (preferably Oracle based products)
- Fully proficient with Microsoft Excel and Word applications (in this day and age it seems odd to still see knowledge of Excel, Word or PowerPoint even listed. Shouldn’t we take it for granted by now?)
Learning & Development
Similar to Talent Management, L&D positions do not seem to put much emphasis on tech knowledge and experience. While gamification is certainly a growing trend among L&D departments, surprisingly not a single one out of 30 randomly selected job postings had any mention of previous experience in gamification as part of the skills checklist.
- A minimum of 2-3 years of experience in LMS Administrator (Cornerstone or similar tool)
- Minimum 5 years designing e-learning solutions
Having skimmed through over 100 job postings for all sorts of HR professionals in the US and Europe a couple of trends took shape – a more in-depth study with a bigger sample pool will be required to fully confirm these trends. 1) The level of technology’s integration into everyday functions differs greatly for different areas of HR; 2) While some areas of HR, like analytics and payroll, are more tech-experience focused than others, prior knowledge of cloud, social and mobile technologies is not very high on the list of qualifications expected from an HR professional. One explanation could be that while HR technology certainly drives the profession of HR forward, it is not yet fully taken advantage of and, therefore, it will simply take more time. The other explanation (and I am more willing to buy into this one) is that HR technology will always remain secondary to such aspects of HR as organisational psychology, project management, social contract, etc. Technology is merely a tool; while it is capable of re-defining the entire HR ecosystem, it will always remain simply an aid for a function whose sole focus is people.