The Chief HR Officer or Senior Vice President of Human Resources & Executive Search

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The Chief HR Officer Job and Responsibilities


Senior Executives


The Chief HR Officer Job

The role of the Chief Human Resources Officer, often titled Senior Vice President of Human Resources, has shifted from responding to employee needs and setting policies to the more strategic objective of helping organizations build capabilities to respond to customers and increase confidence from investors. In this new capacity, the Chief HR Officer develops a strategic human capital plan that ensures that executive compensation, professional development, executive recruitment and retention are all aligned with the company's strategic objectives and goals. He or she is also responsible for integrating HR policies into the company; coordinating succession planning; and developing a positive employer brand.

The Chief HR Officer, or SVP of HR, is the point person for the talent review process, which is central to the firm's strategic planning. He or she must know their talent; understand their collective bench strength; and have the ability to move talent across lines to meet business needs.

Skills and Capabilities Required by Executive Search Firms

Executive headhunters and search consultants look for senior executives who are fluent in the language of business; cross-culturally competent; and capable of influencing top decision makers. Aspiring Senior Vice Presidents of HR or CHROs must be strategic problem solvers who are capable of dealing with ambiguity and leading change. Executives interested in HR management positions must have knowledge of how human capital drives business goals, as well as the ability to develop and execute a progressive talent strategy. He or she must be able to analyze key financial documents and establish metrics that measure the business performance of HR initiatives. An executive recruiter or headhunter will also look for executives who are assertive and have the courage to speak their mind on critical and contentious issues. The Chief HR Officer must have unassailable judgment; expertise in management, compensation and benefits, executive recruiting, and learning and development; and the confidence and credibility necessary to develop and maintain productive CEO and Board relationships.

Career Experience Sought by Executive Recruiters for Chief HR Officer Positions

A 2007 study by retained executive search firm Korn/Ferry International of Fortune 1000 CHROs and Senior Vice Presidents of Human Resources found that the majority (56%) attained their senior executive positions via promotion, while 45% were hired externally. The study found that Chief HR Officers of corporate divisions are four times more likely to be offered the corporate-wide CHRO job than to be hired by another firm for such a position, with healthcare/life sciences and technology companies being more open to hiring CHROs from outside the organization. The study also found that HR generalists have an advantage in competing for the Chief Human Resources Officer job, be it through promotion or hiring.

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