Five top tips for aspirants of the Chief HR Officer chair

HR ADVICE: Ask any entry-level HR professional what their career aspirations are. Most if not all, will answer “to become a Chief HR Officer someday”.

As a member of the company’s executive team, the Chief HR Officer, or the Chief People Officer, is the job title for an organisation’s HR and culture leader. Other titles include the Chief Talent Officer, Head of People or Talent, or the Vice President of HR, but while the business card might change, the role as head of all aspects of people and HR throughout an organisation, stays the same.

To be the next top HR leader requires a substantial amount of wisdom gained from experience and often, formal education. And while nothing will replace those essential pillars, here are five top tips to get you started in that HR executive career goal.

1. Identify employers that provide career development.

This might seem simple, but it is often the most important thing in securing a senior executive position. Many, but not all HR structures allow for career progression. So, it is important to evaluate how your career is able to progress with your current employer. To do this, conduct your background checks on potential employers’ company structures, their websites, social media profiles, and online reviews. An employer’s branding that promotes clear leadership development opportunities and a commitment to improving employee experience are good signs that they focus on human capital, and will likely facilitate senior HR positions.

2. Secure professional qualifications.

It is vital to gain the right professional qualifications as a faster route to becoming a Chief HR Officer. A Level 6 or 7 Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) certification is one of the most common and sought-after qualification, while in Singapore the Institute of HR Professionals also offers three levels of accreditation for the local profession. The best HR employers will support either qualification, and should offer time or resources to help you gain it. Ask your employer about these, and other training and development programs and opportunities.

3. Gain leadership skills.

The big difference between standard HR management and the top Chief HR Officer positions, at least in terms of skillsets sought, is the need for leadership savvy. Understanding this requirement will be invaluable when you land the position.

A Chief HR Officer must also have good business acumen to integrate business-wide strategies.

4. Join upskilling initiatives within the company.

Wherever possible, participate in your HR team’s activities that promote training, talent acquisition, and career development initiatives. This includes formulating career development plans, crafting talent acquisition strategies, and consistently evaluating training and development programs to ensure future-proofing of the workforce.

5. Promote inclusion in the workplace.

Practice early. A Chief HR Officer's responsibilities include cultivating an inclusive environment at work through policies and behavioural changes. Apart from the organisation’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, try cultivating these values in your daily life so that it will come as second nature to you in preparation for the leadership roles of the future.

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