I recently resigned from my position as an HR Advisor and decided to take some brief time out to concentrate on other areas in my life, while keeping the job hunt ticking over in the background. During my search for my next role, a few things about the process have really made me stop and think.

What’s in a name?
I consider myself to be an HR Advisor, and have been searching for another HR Advisor position, seems simple enough, right? Well, maybe not; I’ve been surprised by the variety of names for similar roles; HR Consultant (although advertised by another agency as an HR Advisor), HR Associate, Senior HR Associate, HR Business Partner (Generalist), ER Advisor, Personnel Manager and ER/HR Specialist. One agency suggested I go for a HR Business Partner role because "it’s not really a HRBP role; it’s really an Advisor but they just call it an HRBP". All of these roles are paying similar salaries and have broadly similar responsibilities and it leads me to question what our job titles really mean and whether companies really know what they mean when they give a role a title. Personally I have found it difficult to know what roles to apply for and also have found myself questioning my professional identity; in this world of apparently synonymous job titles what actually is an HR Advisor?
What’s HR all about, anyway?
As if it’s not confusing enough for a candidate to have to determine what job title to search and apply for, I have found such a broad range of job descriptions, responsibilities and person specifications I’m often left wondering whether I am really looking at the same types of roles. On the one hand, I find it reassuring that the roles differ so much; surely this must mean that HR is aligned to the particular needs of the business and is structured with a tailored approach unique to that business. On the other hand though, I question whether companies really know what they are looking for and want from their HR team and whether there is clarity about what the different HR roles are there to provide.
To CIPD or not CIPD…?
This is true also for CIPD qualifications required. For example I came across a Senior HR Associate position which stated the ideal person will be "part or fully CIPD qualified or willing to study". Having just spent nearly three years working to achieve my Masters in HRM with graduate CIPD, I find it concerning that companies do not appear to know whether they want CIPD status or not. In this example, surely they might as well just have said current CIPD status not relevant.
Unexpected loyalty
Just like the differences in job titles, job descriptions and CIPD status, two recruitment agencies and their consultants are never the same. I have been surprised about how much the personality and approach of the consultant has influenced my job search; pushy-salesmen-suggest-any-role-regardless-of-salary-or- location-types rarely get much of my time or consideration and I have even gone out of my way to find another agency who is recruiting for the same role just so that I can apply with someone whom I consider to be more professional. I have also experienced feelings of loyalty towards those who have really taken the time to find out about my background, what’s important to me, what type of culture I will suit best and so on. These are the people I want to give my business to; I just wish I could be successful in lots of jobs and give my custom to all the good consultants I have worked with.
How do you know when you’ve found The One?
So many job titles, so many job descriptions, different locations, different salaries, different cultures and sizes of organisations. If I go for job A what about job B that I liked the sound of but isn’t at interview stage yet? Will they wait for me until I finish a three month FTC at job C? Job hunting, I have found is a little like dating…but more about that in my next blog.
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