Issues In Job Recruitment and Research

Friday, February 03, 2006

Careers in Human Resources

Careers in Human Resources
Among the career options available to management graduates, the field of human resources is fast emerging as a challenging and lucrative one.

Among the different career options available to management graduates, the field of human resources (HR) is fast-emerging as a challenging and lucrative option. Before the 1990s, HR management meant administration and personnel management along with industrial relations. Post-90s, with liberalisation and globalisation, the concept of HR changed.

Once the economy opened, the economy moved from being manufacturing-based, to being knowledge-based and retail and IT etc., gained prominence. With globalisation, came competition. The products and services offered by Indian companies had to compete with global brands. This put pressure on organisational productivity and performance. Since organisational efficiency depended, to a large extent, on people, the way HR was managed changed and a lot of career options became available in HR. Also, with globalisation, companies began operating from different countries and hiring a workforce comprising various nationalities. The cultural challenges thus thrown up contributed to changing the way HR was perceived and managed.

“As an HR professional, one can be either a generalist or a specialist,” says Sanjeev Saxena, Manager, Organisational Effectiveness, Infosys. Some important specialist functions in HR are as follows:

Industrial relations

An IR professional takes care of the legal aspects of running an organisation in the context of HR. It is his job to ensure that all statutory requirements are met and there is an environment of peace within the organisation so that the employees can work effectively.


The objective of the recruitment section is to ensure that the organisation has the right set of people at the right time. “The recruitment function in emerging sectors like BPOs is very important because the attrition in these sectors is double-digit and the growth is 30-40 per cent. This calls for recruitment in large numbers,” says Nimish Khare, Manager HRD, Wipro. A recruitment executive needs the skills of a salesperson, that is, he needs to be number-oriented and target-driven. A recruitment executive would be required to handle different components like recruitment strategy, advertisement, screening, scheduling, selection, offer, joining, induction, market research and tools for recruitment.

To work in the recruitment function, one needs an MBA, preferably with a specialisation in HR, but increasingly those with a sales and marketing background are also getting into this field.

Compensation and benefits

Earlier compensation and benefits was just about payrolls, but now there is much more to it. Benchmark studies, which are used to gauge the industry norm for compensation for a particular profile, are an important part of compensation and benefits. “Compensation is both a motivation and an expense. Ideally, an organisation would like to maximise the former and minimise the latter. This makes the compensation function challenging,” says Saxena. This role has acquired additional significance in view of the fact that most companies operate in a global context these days. “For instance, Infosys is operating in 36 countries and in each country, it has to comply with the labour rules of that country. It is the job of the compensation and benefits section to ensure this happens,” adds Saxena.

To get into the recruitment function of any organisation, an MBA with a specialisation in HR is required. Those with a finance background generally have an edge over others.

Employee relations/ generalist HR

“It is the job of an executive working as a generalist HR professional to ensure the implementation of HR systems and processes. These include induction, employee welfare, performance appraisal, handling employee grievances, employee motivation and manpower planning and allocation,” says Khare. Those aspiring to get into the field of generalist HR must have an MBA with a specialisation in HR.

Organisational effectiveness/organisational development

Though these terms are used interchangeably, there is a difference between them. Organisational effectiveness focuses on design and implementation of new HR systems and policies. It deals with employee satisfaction, job evaluation, performance management, external and internal branding, HR strategy, HR analysis and advisory role. Organisational development focuses on developing the capability of employees through training and interventions. Both these functions require a high level of understanding of HR concepts and behavourial psychology.

A person who wants to make a career in any of these functions can get an MBA degree with a specialisation in HR and then develop as a generalist or specialist, based on their interest.


Apart from working in the HR function of an organisation, an HR professional can also opt for consulting. Consulting is a good option for people who have a passion for creative solutions and have conceptual clarity. “It offers a steep learning curve, but at the same time is very challenging. Some of these challenges are working in the client environment, extensive travel and working with ambiguity,” says Saxena.

Where to study

Almost all MBA institutes, including the IIMs, offer a specialisation in HR. The best-known colleges for studying HR in India are Xaviers Labour Relations Institute, Jamshedpur; Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai; and Symbiosys, Pune.

Prerana Trehan