The outlook for HR roles in Canada

The number one question HR professionals in Canada ask me everyday is “When will the market heat up for HR talent once again?”

The HR Talent market has been through a roller coaster of demand over the past few years. Many organizations cut back on resourcing within HR starting in 2008. Many areas of HR were hit very hard including Talent Development, Talent Management and Recruitment. Many senior HR roles were eliminated as part of a corporate wide cost cutting exercise. Many
organizations moved to an HR Business Partner model of HR to continue to provide an HR presence at the leadership table but with so few HR support roles remaining, there was a limited focus on new HR initiatives. HR was asked by their organizations to ”do more with less” – and as most of my network would more accurately put it “do more with a lot less”.

There were still a high number of open HR roles in the market during the recession but the over-supply of available and interested HR talent at all levels made it a very competitive recruitment process. Companies had a difficult time selecting talent for HR roles as there was so much interest and competition. Certain HR disciplines continued to be in high
demand even through the past couple of years. Compensation continues to be the toughest area of HR for companies to recruit for. There seems to be an under-supply of good Compensation talent in the market in Canada and I don’t think this has changed since I started in HR 15 years ago.

I am definitely seeing the number of open HR roles and newly created HR roles on the rise once again in Canada. Companies are beginning to dedicate more new headcount back into HR and increasing the overall HR budgets once again. Of interest to me is what HR will do with this new headcount and budget – does HR look for new ways to innovate and structure
their function and service offerings or will HR re-deploy in the same manner as was the case before the tough economic times. I am hoping HR leaders take the time to look for new ways to innovate their function within their organization.

So what’s the market like for HR roles today?

Definitely the hottest area of HR roles are the ones below the manager level.  There seems to be an under-supply of HR talent looking for new opportunities with 2-4 years of experience. This seems to be the toughest of the HR roles to fill for organizations today (aside from the before mentioned Compensation roles).

The trickle up effect is also beginning and hopefully soon the other more senior levels of HR roles will also experience an increase in demand. There seems to be a few more HR Manager, HR Director and VP roles being recruited by organizations in the market today – but still a lot of supply of interested and available talent for those roles. It isn’t just the HR talent who are currently out of work looking for new roles, now it is the HR talent currently employed beginning to look for new opportunities again after a few years of restlessness and not wanting to move in a tough economy.

The one aspect of the HR talent pool that is still a question mark for me is how many of the HR Consultants, who started their own HR consulting practices over the past few years, will want to or be enticed to go back into an HR corporate role?

The second most popular question I am asked every day is “What can I do to improve my chances of finding a new opportunity?” My advise is always to be patient and continue to leverage your networks. The market is only going to get better but ensure you don’t jump into a new opportunities for the sake of jumping…..ensure the role and the organization are a good fit for you.

What trends are you seeing in the HR talent market?

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Simon Parkin is recognized as a global thought leader in the acquisition of top talent and has successfully transformed the Talent function for organizations of all sizes. Simon is the Managing Partner at The Parkin Group Ltd. and is focused on working closely with clients to build, develop and innovate their Recruitment, Talent and HR functions. He is a former global leader of Recruitment and Talent for a Fortune 100 company. Simon is a featured speaker at a number of HR and Recruitment conferences across North America and an author of many acclaimed articles on innovative Recruitment, Talent and HR trends and best practices.

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