Posted by: Professionals In Human Resources Association (PIHRA) | December 6, 2011

HR Concepts: Your Future HR Director Position

It is always risky to predict the future. The perspective we know today creates a foggy lens for looking into where we might be when tomorrow arrives. Nonetheless, when it comes to the future of your career, a few key indicators are worth discussing and watching.

Assume for the moment that your career goal leads to a Director of Human Resources position with a medium to large employer in the next five to ten years. What knowledge, skills, and abilities will you very likely need to demonstrate to your future employer to get your big opportunity?

Talk the Talk
Most successful people talk the language of their audience. They recognize that they encounter different audiences throughout each day. They move seamlessly from a casual conversation with a production worker to a formal presentation to the Board of Directors. They listen well. They hear what others say and work to understand their message before responding. They offer well reasoned opinions based on a broad range of experience, knowledge, and perspective.

In your future position, you will interact with a dynamic team of executive and management colleagues. They will be well educated, technologically adept, and wise in the ways of the world. They will be young, energetic, and focused as much on giving back to the community as they are on business success. They will expect you to be a knowledgeable resource and a valued advisor with a multi-disciplinary perspective. You will be challenged to lead an HR program that is innovative, flexible, and able to adapt to a rapidly changing future.

Analytical Analytics
The days of “by guess and by golly” are long past. Your future employer will expect you to back up your hunches with objective data. You may not need to be the statistical expert, but you will need to know how to find one and work effectively with her or him.

Consider a few real life examples. The New York Times recently published a story about Google using complex analytics to define the ideal Google manager. At the SHRM Strategy Conference in Chicago in October, a speaker form Credit Suisse detailed how his team analyzed everything from the demographics of new workforce entrants to the ROI of bringing former employees back into the fold with the experience they gained in an outside organization. Sara Rynes, Ph.D., honored with SHRM’s 2011 Michael R. Losey Human Resources Research Award pointed out at the same conference that knowing how to access and use academic research in day-to-day HR management is a critical skill.

It will be important for your resume to demonstrate a fundamental knowledge of statistics. Knowledge will not be enough. It must include real-life examples of projects and strategic initiatives that you led after an objective analysis of key workforce indicators.

Around the World
In a recent story on National Public Radio, a featured economist was asked what business leaders should do to prepare for the emerging future. The answer was a short and to the point, “Learn Mandarin.” The explanation reinforced that the road to the business world ahead makes international work experience, multi-country knowledge, and cultural skill an absolute requirement. HR is not exempt from this key business dynamic.

You will enhance your chances of landing your dream job by showing actual global experience – a work assignment in China, an interdisciplinary project with colleagues in Singapore, Zurich, and Rio de Janeiro, or a Master’s in International Business.

HR Cop Gone Enabling Auditor
The role of HR Cop will not play well on your resume for your future employer. The historical power grab associated with a “You cannot do that” reputation goes against the grain of organization-wide collaboration.

Your interviewers will look for clear signs of your ability to audit policies, systems, and practices for trends that lead to new, innovative programs. You will need to show an innate ability to anticipate problems and translate them into opportunities. That will not, however, be enough. Your repertoire must include the ability to persuade other key leaders to support cause.

You will land this dream job because you clearly demonstrate your strength as a leader, a teacher, and a coach. You will not be able to win the day on this requirement as a lone eagle. You will need to show that you have the skill, ability, and connections to assemble, motivate, and lead a cross-functional team of HR professionals to implement your great ideas.

Woven in the Web
Wikinomics, by Don Tapscot, should be on your already read and re-read list. You are hopelessly behind if it is still on your need to read list.

Your entryway into your new position will depend on your ability to plan, develop, and, in many cases, implement complex projects through the nanosecond walls of the internet with corporate colleagues and distant formal and informal partners. Linux,, and Wikipedia offer glimpses into the way things will get done on your watch.

It will not stop there. You will use your yet to be invented virtual control device to project examples of your work from your personal cloud repository during your interview. Your presentation will include video examples of you interacting with colleagues. You will use a wall-size touch screen to highlight, circle, and move key elements of your career portfolio grab the attention of the interview team.

We started this discussion with the premise that it was risky to predict the future. The danger is that what we know today may not provide a clear picture of what tomorrow will demand. Look around at the world financial crisis, the Arab Spring, the upcoming Presidential election, the Occupy movement, and a host of other events that may profoundly affect you and your career. If there is one clear message here, it is that building a successful resume for your future requires you to be flexible, smart, curious, and connected. You cannot afford to say, “I don’t have time.” You have to manage your time to hone your knowledge skills, and abilities around concepts that are not a priority in your current role. You have to constantly mine your universe for relationships, opportunities, and experiences that enhance your professional foundation. Your future employer is waiting for your galactic resume to WOW them over. What are you doing today to write it for them?

Mike Deblieux, SPHR-CA, designs and presents on-site seminars and workshops for front-line workplace leaders. He provides coaching support for supervisors and supports HR professionals through special projects to help their organizations achieve strategic goals. Mike writes HR Concepts to help HR professionals better understand and use fundamental HR principles. Share your feedback on this article with Mike at



  1. Wow….awesome article of new times and what the expectations will be of Human Resource Professionals.

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