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  • What do HR Analytics  Career Paths look like?
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  • Mike Ulrich
    Mike Ulrich

    Research Launch: What do HR Analytics Career Paths look like?

    While firms have been running forms of people and HR analytics for many years, the various roles within these functions are evolving. Being a younger subset within the HR community, HR analytics professionals often face challenging and uncertain career paths within and after their time within the function. In addition to the normal ambiguity HR professionals experience, HR analytics professionals face the added complication of developing analytical and technical expertise in a field that often lacks, misunderstands, or can’t utilize such skills.  


    Part of the HR Analytics ThinkTank’s mission is to provide free evidence and insights to HR analytics professionals so that they can make better decisions about their careers. As part of this, we are launching a study to better understand the career paths and skills associated with people and HR analytics.


    This study will explore the following questions:

    1. What prepares someone for a job as an HR analytics professional?
    2. What are the job and developmental opportunities within HR analytics?
    3. What are the career prospects for the HR analytics professional ready for something new?

    If you are an HR analytics professional, we invite you to participate in our research by completing this survey (it takes approximately 10 minutes). By taking part you will receive a free copy of the final report in November, and access to all exclusive ThinkTank content. More importantly, you will join our global community in the pursuit to further the people and HR analytics industry.


    What prepares someone for a job in HR Analytics?
    Most people who go into HR do not come from technical backgrounds. This often results in a trepidation (or outright fear) of anything dealing with “analytics,” falsely believing that strong statistical skills are the same as analytical competencies. Similarly, the perception that HR is a “soft” science pushes away people with more quantitative backgrounds. Thus, the supply of people interested in HR analytics careers is weak.
    But, prior research has shown many of the perceptions that keep people away from HR analytics are not true. For the arithmophobic, being an HR analyst is about more than crunching numbers; likewise, for quantitative wizards, HR presents incredibly complex and challenging problems. We thus seek to understand what knowledge, skills, and abilities prepare someone for a career in HR analytics.
    What are the job and developmental opportunities within HR analytics?
    Not every person who works in HR analytics has to be a data expert. In fact, I’ve met very senior HR analysts who can’t open Excel, think classification trees are about forestry, and MCMC has to do with dancing.
    The range of required skills within an HR analytics function can also significantly vary (p<.05) depending on the size and maturity of the HR analytics team. Analysts in smaller or younger HR analytics groups are often asked to have expertise in a wider range of technical, business, methodological, and other skills. But in larger analytics groups, the roles can be more specialized, and someone with deep HR or business expertise but little “analytical” abilities could help their team mature into a more relevant and impactful team.
    What are the career prospects for the HR analytics professional ready for something new?
    The final area we seek to better understand is what do people do when they want to move on from HR analytics. My first two advanced degrees are in statistics, so when I entered a PhD program in management, everyone just assumed I would be a “stats” guy and in many ways this is true–I’m reasonably good with numbers–but I purposefully entered a management PhD program to get away from statistics. Early in this program, I spoke with a senior colleague who was similarly labeled a “stats” guy, and he told me once he was given this label, he had an incredibly difficult time gaining a reputation for anything else. He warned me to avoid this career path unless this was the only thing I wanted to do. Despite my efforts to become an expert in management and HR, many close relatives still think my PhD was in statistics. Sadly, I am not alone; many people who work in HR analytics have a difficult time finding other opportunities within HR and often have to find new career paths if they want to advance to higher levels of management.
    Why participate in this Career Path research?
    By contributing your experiences and perspectives to our research, you will help the HR Analytics ThinkTank team to reveal and confirm myths and hypotheses about the HR analytics industry – made available to our community for free. We anticipate our findings will help study participants benchmark themselves against other HR analytics professionals in similar career stages and roles and provide insights on how they can continue to progress in their careers. We also expect our final report will help break misconceptions that keep individuals from entering this profession and direct companies to new sources of talent. In addition to this, as with anyone who takes part in our research, you will also gain access to exclusive ThinkTank reports, content and webinars.
    Call to Action: Take Part Now
    There are many more exciting questions we hope to answer with this study. We are currently looking for people who are willing to provide us data about their careers (even if you don’t have a formal role in HR analytics). If you wish to participate, we will ask you to complete a very brief survey and share your resume. A few people may also be asked for a short interview. Data will be collected during August and September 2020, and we anticipate sharing our initial findings in November.


    To participate in this research, please take a few minutes to answer some questions and share your career information.



    Latest Community Blog Entries

  • Blogs

    1. The Global Community Content library is an open area of the ThinkTank site where anyone can add content for other people to access, read and use. It is completely open and anyone can add content - although there are some general rules (below). This blog is a quick guide to explain how to add content to the site.


      Rules for Global Community Content

      There are only two rules to adding content to the global library:

      1. You are responsible for having the rights to post the content. 
      2. Any sales content will be removed.



      How to Upload Content to the  Community Content Library


      Step One: Go to the Community Content Library and click "Add New Content" (Click Here)






      Step 2: Enter a Title and the Text for the Content

      Note 1: If you are posting a video from Vimeo or YouTube, you can just put the video URL and it will load as a video!

      Note 2: You can tag other site members by using "@". For example, @Johann Friedrich Gauss.






      Step Three: Complete the other fields

      Note: If you need a new Content Type, Topic Category or Language, please use "Other" and let us know by messaging @HR Analytics ThinkTank. We will add the new category and update it for you.




      If it is older content, you might need to add the date it was original recorded or written, and who is featured in the video.




      Step 4: Agree to the Disclaimers, add a Banner (Recommended) and hit "Save"

      Tip: If you do not have a banner, we will add one when we post it.





      And that's it... The video should appear in the library immediately! Thank you for adding it!

    2. In September last year, I write a guide for How to Run an HR and People Analytics meetup. In those pre-COVID19 days, the guide was really talking about in-person events when we could come within 2 metres of each other and most of us had probably never worn a face mask. Like everything else meetups have gone digital. Since March, HR and people analytics meetup organisers around the world have been experimenting with ways of taking our communities digital.


      It has been a learning journey, and there are pros and cons to this new format. In this blog I wanted to share the experiences of the London HR and People Analytics Meetup community, as we've adapted for this new world. We invite other meetup organisers to contribute their own blogs or comments.


      We also invite you to download our Virtual Meetup Slide Deck Template by clicking here on the image below:


      HR Analytics Template Deck



      So what tips do we have for moving your meetup virtual...?


      Virtual Tip 1: Replicate In-Person Feel and Vibes

      Many of us have learned that the success of virtual meetings requires a shift in attitude - not just from the person leading the session, but the people attending it too. We send an email out 48 hours before the meetup and open with some guidelines to help everyone get into the right frame of mind. My general guide to the community is a simple challenge: "As a community, we need to work together to replicate the feel and vibe of an in-person meetup. Would you feel comfortable doing something at a physical event? If yes, then feel free to do it at the virtual meetup.".


      More more specific guidelines:

      • Webcams On. We think the 'connection' people feel in meetups requires an eye-to-eye connection, so unless you are invisible in real life we ask everyone to switch their cameras on.
      • Be Present. In a normal meetup, people tend to respect the presenter and they don't walk around and do distracting things. The great thing about a virtual event means you can join from anywhere, but please don't join in a way that negatively impacts the experience for other people.
      • Ask Questions. We allow anyone to unmute themselves so they can ask questions whenever they want (just like in real life).
      • Have Fun. It is just a meetup, so don't stress!





      Virtual Tip 2: Be Inclusive

      You shouldn't assume everyone feels as comfortable as you are with your web platform - in fact, it can be a great way to alienate some of your community if they feel unable to navigate your sessions. At the beginning of every session, we do a quick 3-4 minute demo of all the functionality they need to know about.

      Zoom Instructions


      Virtual Tip 3: Your Networking Will be Fine (it might even improve)

      Most meetup organisers feel that the biggest value their sessions bring is the networking and sense of community - and they are worried that this will not translate into virtual webinars. At the in-person London meetups the networking is high energy, and it was a concern for us - but the feedback on our networking as been extremely positive.


      Some ideas for you to consider:

      • Use Breakout Rooms (Zoom). Zoom has a great feature called 'Break Outs', which allows you to create mini virtual meetings within your big Zoom meeting. You can click a few buttons and send everyone into mini groups of 4-5 people to chat on their own. This works very well for us.
      • Given Enough Time. Make sure you give people enough time to network. You can always end the networking early if you need to.
      • Use Digital Tools. Other groups are using tools like Mentimeter, Miro and more to improve their experiences.
      • Suggest Questions or Themes. Suggest questions for people to ask each other in the virtual meetups to help them get started.
      • Eat and Drink. This is probably my personal view but there is something human about eating together and our networking usually happens over pizza and beer. Encourage people to bring a snack for the networking.




      Virtual Tip 4: Keep Recording and Writing Up and Keep Going

      The biggest trick to long-term Meetup success is still the same trick as a successful change management programme... Keep going, maintain clear momentum and communication and share successes. If you can, tell people when the next meetup will be, and share the blogs and recordings of your sessions (on the ThinkTank?) so other people can see what they missed and join in the future.






      I hope this helps. If anyone has any other questions about the London meetups or suggestions or ideas, please let me know. Here are the useful links if you want to start your own meetup:

      1. Register Your Meetup on the Global Meetup Map
      2. Put your Meetup Event on the New Global Meetup Calendar
      3. Join our the Meetup Organiser Linkedin Group.



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