Strategic thinkers wanted as HR evolves
The human resources profession is moving away from mainly being focused on administrative duties, says Virginia Choi, executive council member of the Hong Kong Institute of Human Resource Management (HKIHRM).
"Organisations see more clearly that human resources plays a bigger and more critical role - the role of strategic planning, which encompasses the attraction, development and retention of talents," says Choi, who will host a Leadership Forum talk on "Developing a Professional Career in Human Resource Management" at the Career Forum.
"More and more senior human resources professionals are joining the board of directors to be business partners of the management," Choi says. "This is why the human resources profession is now attracting more and more high-calibre people.
"The human resources industry offers a long-term career development path for graduates. In every organisation, HR support is indispensable, while human resources professionals take up many different important roles, including recruitment, compensation and benefits, training, and succession planning. They have to ensure their organisation has the right person to take on the right job."
Training programmes are available in the profession for graduates to learn more about HR duties and roles. In addition, many experts from the sector are very willing to share their experience at seminars and conferences.
Graduates need to have or develop certain skills, qualifications and characteristics before joining the profession, Choi says. "In terms of attitude, the graduate needs to have honesty and integrity, so as to demonstrate the highest level of business ethics and consistently adhere to the key values and principles of the organisation.
"The graduate also needs to be open to new ideas and trends, and ready to embrace changes, challenges and opportunities. He needs to be dedicated to continuous improvement, both for the organisation and himself. A proactive attitude and a responsive mindset are also essential in order to be adaptable to a fast-changing environment," Choi says.
Graduates interested in joining the profession should have good communication and interpersonal skills in order for them to persuade, inform and motivate employees.
They should also be patient and listen to the needs and wants of staff members. "A human resources professional should have an agreeable personality, and be approachable," Choi says. "He or she must be ready to handle interpersonal matters such as negotiations and resolving conflicts.
"Above all, they should have a caring heart for employees."
However, they still need to be accomplished administrators and have thorough knowledge of regulations. "They must possess good organisational skills, and be able to effectively coordinate regular training and development programmes.
"Compliance is also critical in the human resources function. The practitioner must have a thorough understanding of the key ordinances, as well as human resources policies and practices, in order to protect the interests of the organisation and its employees.
"Last but not least, a human resources professional should have high language proficiency and analytical skills, because they deal with people and people issues."
Choi advises graduates considering joining the human resources profession to take a three-step approach. This includes self-assessment of their suitability for the job; self-analysis of strengths, weaknesses, interests, abilities and aspirations; and career planning - putting ideas into action, and progressing towards goals.
Choi applauds the Career Forum for the opportunities it offers. "The Career Forum provides a platform for the HKIHRM to get connected with graduates and new joiners in the labour market. It is an occasion for valuable knowledge sharing, information flow and experience sharing," she says.
She offers a final piece of advice for Career Forum participants: "Attend as many conferences, forums and talks as you can, to better understand the career opportunities open."