The Career FactBook for HR and Learning Professionals is a impressive research conduct by Bersin and Associates and available for download at no charge. I've been through it, and it's an comprehensive set of research findings about the state of our profession. It's about 130 pages and designed to give insights looking for HR and learning professionals.
- HR and L&D professionals are highly motivated by the intrinsic value of their work. While money is a motivator in their profession, they find far greater satisfaction by their ability serve and help others, transform their own organization, and find unique ways to motivate, align, and develop people. Professionals in the staffing and recruiting part of the profession are much more financially motivated than those in other areas of HR - but even they are less motivated by money than one may expect.
- Each of the disciplines of HR and L&D has its own deep levels of expertise and experience. While people often move from role to role during their careers, some of the most satisfied and successful HR professionals tend to focus in one particular area for a long period of time. Some leverage this experience to move into leadership and executive ranks, but many decide to stay as professionals and have highly satisfying and financially rewarding careers as specialists.
- There is a distinct break in the skills, areas of expertise, and motivation of those HR and L&D professionals who chose to become true executives from those who chose to become senior practitioners and program leaders. Our research found that true HR and L&D executives are very business-oriented, focused far more heavily on business-related challenges and issues, and function far more like "business leaders" than pure "HR or L&D leaders."
- HR and L&D professionals are a fairly satisfied group. Even though many are suffering from very challenging business conditions, our research showed that job satisfaction rises steadily with experience (young HR and L&D professionals find the role very challenging) and they become very satisfied and happy with their career in their older years. Of course those who do not like the profession typically leave, but in the case of our research the average tenure was over 6 years, so these people have all had time in this profession.
- The profession is a highly educated group. Our respondents were very highly educated: 34% of our respondents have a Bachelors degree, 51% have a Masters degree, and 7% have PhDs. In this profession education leads to job satisfaction: the more highly educated professionals are actually the happiest (but not necessarily the best paid).
- HR and L&D professionals salaries grow fairly consistently over time. In our sample group we found that average compensation ranges almost linearly with experience from $67,381 for people with 2-5 years of experience to $115,200 for people with 15 or more years of experience. Managers can expect to earn 7% greater than non-managers, Directors can expect to earn 42% more than managers, and Vice-Presidents and other executives can expect to earn 25-30% more than Directors. As you will read in the study, the biggest single driver of earnings is actually level: once HR and L&D professionals reach the Director level or higher, their earnings go up significantly.
- There two, equally satisfying, types of career paths in this profession. One, we would call the "professional" track, enables professionals to gain expertise in their subject area and grow from practitioner to senior practitioner to program leader to what we call the "HR or L&D Master." These "Masters" often become consultants, they write books, or they take on very important roles in corporations and other organizations.
The other track is the managerial and executive track. Here HR and L&D professionals take a more traditional approach to growing into manager, Director, and VP roles. In this profession there is a major narrowing of opportunities at the Director and VP level and our research shows that people who succeed at these levels doso because they have deep levels of domain expertise in at least one HR or L&D domain. "General managers" do not seem to function well in HR.
- The biggest frustration for HR and L&D profesionals is not necessarily lack of resources (although that is clearly an issue), but rather working in teams or organizations that do not value their work. The single biggest career and job frustration cited in this research is "lack of support and input from business leaders." That is, HR and L&D professionals want to be respected and valued by their customers (the business leaders they support). When the organization or leadership does not give them this support, money or professional development does not generally improve their engagement.
- HR and L&D professionals are "learners" by nature. The research clearly shows that people in this profession know that there are no real "perfect" ways to do anything - and in fact they are very highly motivated by opportunities to learn, share with each other, and improve their own professional skills.