HR Career Spotlight: High Demand Roles and Best Places to Work

Today, Human Resources is a multi-billion dollar industry filled with possibilities. Although once regarded as an administrative function within a business, HR has evolved and individuals working in this most people-centric of professions can pursue dynamic, varied and creative career paths.

But that’s not all: The HR field is about as close to ubiquitous as you can get. It cuts across all verticals, from tech to retail to healthcare to manufacturing. Wherever firms are hiring there are opportunities — and even when a company isn’t big enough to have a dedicated HR department, somebody still has to fulfill the requirements of the role (or roles). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the occupation of human resources manager alone is projected to grow at a rate of 9% between 2014 and 2024.

But if HR is everywhere, then what are the most in-demand roles? Where does an HR paycheck stretch the furthest? And what does Indeed’s 15 million-strong reviews database tell us about which companies are the best places to work for HR professionals? Our data science team crunched the numbers. Here are the answers.

Recruiter #1 for most in-demand jobs

First, let’s take a look at the careers within HR which are most in-demand right now. Where will you find the most opportunities? The answer is: in recruiting.

most in-demand HR roles 2017

The prominence of recruiter jobs is a sign of today’s low unemployment rate and the that fact that many firms are hiring. But of course, if firms are hiring, then they first need to hire recruiters to do it for them! The more senior role of recruitment manager also performs well, placing in the upper half (#7) of our list.

Interestingly, HR Manager comes second for demand, a strong showing for a role requiring a higher level of skill and experience — and good news for professionals looking to take their careers to the next level. The still more senior director of human resources places 8th, demonstrating that demand is strong for HR professionals of all levels.

But that’s not all. While many of these roles are general, we also see demand for the specialized role of technical recruiter, which places 13th. Not only is the ongoing tech talent shortage fueling demand for coders and software engineers, it is creating jobs for people with the skills to hire them.

Where does an HR professional’s paycheck stretch the furthest?

Now let’s take a look at compensation: Where does an HR professional’s paycheck really stretch the furthest, once adjusted for the cost of living?

where HR pays the most

It turns out that to get the most bang for your buck in HR you should go west — although not all the way west. In fact, you can stop in the middle of the country: Midwestern metros dominate the list for HR pay, taking seven of the top 15 spots, with Cleveland, Ohio in first place.

That said, there are sunnier options for those who would rather avoid the long winters. For instance, Atlanta, GA places second, while tech hub Austin comes fourth and San Francisco comes ninth. San Francisco’s showing is particularly impressive as the city is renowned for its high cost of living. Despite that, it outperforms major metros such as San Jose, Houston and Chicago once salaries are adjusted for cost of living.

However, if you’re considering a move in the light of this information then it is worth noting that the range of HR salaries among the top 15 locales is relatively narrow. Less than $2,000 separates first place Cleveland from fourth place Austin, while the overall list only stretches from $80,750 in Cleveland to $71,582 in Chicago.

Money isn’t everything, and if you love your city and your job, you’re not missing out too much even if your city isn’t at the top of the list.

Wells Fargo tops the list for best companies to work in HR

So we know which jobs are in demand, and the cities where a paycheck stretches the furthest — but which are the best companies to work in HR? We analyzed our reviews data to find the answers.

best companies in HR

[Learn more: Get reviews, jobs and salaries for the best jobs in HR]

The results reflect the penetration of the HR industry into practically every vertical in the US. If you’re in HR, then you have a highly transferable skill set and you can bring your talents to well-reviewed firms in a wide variety of industries, including banking, healthcare, hospitality and telecommunications.

At the top of our list we see banking giant Wells Fargo; the number two position is held by a firm from a completely different industry — healthcare consortium Kaiser Permanente. Global professional services firm Accenture places third, while aerospace giant Boeing claims fourth place. Finance and healthcare firms reappear on the list with JPMorgan Chase (#12) and UnitedHealth Group (#10).

However the most prominent vertical is retail, as we see brands such as Kmart (#5), The Home Depot (#8), Macy’s (#13) and JCPenney (#14) all featuring prominently. Although we have recently seen headlines about the difficult times faced by “physical” retail stores in the age of e-commerce giant Amazon, many remain places where HR professionals enjoy their work.

What to do when hiring HR roles

But what do these results mean for employers?

HR is a dynamic field with many opportunities for those working in it. As a result, recruiting and retaining top talent to fulfill these roles at your company is a mission critical priority. After all, if you don’t have skilled, inspired and motivated professionals at hand to search for and nurture high quality workers elsewhere in your organization, you will likely lose out to your competitors.

Compensation, incentive programs, work-life balance, flexibility and career pathing are all important factors to consider when looking for HR professionals, just as they are for anybody else with an important role to play in your organization.

Get these details right, and you will be in a good place to build (and keep) a team that will bring in the best candidates for your other hiring needs.