62 percent of HR professionals are women. Credit: Pixbay

So what does the normal human resource department look like?

Well, according to a survey by the Society for Human Research Management (SHRM), most of the people on the team will be female, college educated (and the majority with graduate degrees), with more and more new to the field and more and more specializing in strategy or hiring.

Every five years, SHRM surveys a broad range of human resource professionals and then releases their findings. There are surprising trends shown in the numbers, none so as notable as the spike of female HR professionals who now populate the industry.

In 1987, 70 percent of all HR employees were men. In 2012, that number almost flipped, with 62 percent of all HR employees now being women.

Another big change is the years of experience of the people working in the field. In 1987, half of all HR employees had at least 15 years’ experience, with just 10 percent having less than five years’ experience. In 2012, only 32 percent of HR employees had at least 15 years’ experience, while 25 percent of HR employees had less than five years’ experience.

Human resource employees were always well educated, although that has improved over time as well. In 2007, 41 percent of HR employees had graduate degrees, with another 37 percent of HR employees having bachelor degrees. In 2012 that number climbed to 51 percent of HR professionals having graduate degrees, with another 39 percent having bachelor degrees.

The most revealing change though is what type of HR people are being hired. In 1987, 61 percent of HR employees were generalists, with a mere 3 percent recruiting specialists. In 2012, 40 percent of HR employees were generalists, while 11 percent were recruiting specialists – an obvious sign that employers are putting more of an emphasis on hiring the right people.

More women, more degrees, more specialists – particularly recruiting specialists. Sound like your HR team?

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Comment by Keith Halperin on July 17, 2014 at 4:31pm

Thanks, Paul.

Folks, when you think of a picture of "the Head of HR" what typically comes to mind?



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