Human Resources Management

Posted: March 3, 2011 in Business Management

When I entered the job market in the late 70’s on a part-time basis, as a naive teenager, “Human Resources” was known as the “Personnel Department.” Human Resources progressively became the more usual name for the overall function of this department – i.e., managing staff and recruiting personnel. In approximately 5 to 7 years from attending college in the early 1980’s and my feeble attempt to join the job market, Human Resources was now the term used to describe individuals who make up the workforce of an organization. “HR” (abbreviated initials for Human Resources)  is also charged with the responsibility for implementing strategies and policies relating to the management of individuals. Whether you are a human resource professional, a manager or an individual job seeker, you are probably wondering about the future of “HR,” considering how dynamic the work environment has been these past few years. Let’s now take a look at HR from the perspective of an individual job seeker.  If you are like me; Ronald Reagan is president, you now have a Bachelor’s degree and seeking employment during a recession. Someone told you about a job opening in a company that interests you, you subsequently go to HR of that company, you read the qualifications and then apply for that job opening. On the surface, the process appeared straightforward and simple. I am sure at that time, there were also complex ways of networking. It was common knowledge then as it is now: the best jobs are not advertised. Today’s job seeker has to have a multi-faceted approach of looking for a job. Applying for a job online is now common practice. There are now websites dedicated to the listing of job openings or job boards as they are often called. Some of the most popular sites are: Monster, Careerbuilder, The Ladders, SimplyHired, USAJobs to only cite a few. The savvy job seeker not only browses through those sites for job openings, matching specific job requirements with his/her skill set, education, and work experience but posts a well-written resume or resumes on those sites as well. Those job sites also offer a feature that allows the job seeker to create “job agents” based on a number of search categories – e.g., accounting,  finance, non-profit, management, government … etc. Those search categories, in turn, send automatic job alerts via email to the creator of the aforementioned job agents. One would think, this preponderance of resources would make finding a job easier. Well, the opposite is true. Some job seekers complain that job applications submitted online except through a company kiosk, are going to a black hole. Such an assessment is well founded given that only 25% of companies notify an applicant that he/she is no longer in the running for an open position. I will be the first to say, this new way of doing things shows a level of unprofessionalism on the part of HR. However, that would only represent a singular perception of the situation. The internet makes it much easier for an individual to submit an application for a vacant position. Having the opportunity to look at job search from both sides of the spectrum makes me confident in saying that HR Departments are getting more applications than they can handle. HR has to sift through hundreds of resumes to find the ideal candidates for a job. The initial face to face meeting with an HR staff back then was essential to the screening process. It would have saved HR staff time and discouraged some unqualified applicants from applying to certain jobs. The rating system was more concise when HR was more centralized. To understand and effectively manage human resources amid the challenges posed by today’s environment, you must examine how applications are received, quantified, and subsequently rated. The rating system often starts with some keywords. Those keywords permit a sometimes automated process to classify applications based on said system conducive to recruitment and hence selection.  What is the percentage of applications not meeting any of the jobs requirements that are discarded per each job opening? I wish I knew the answer to that question. Human Resource Management, however, has several other functions in addition to what I have just described. One of those functions entails meeting the demands of today’s dynamic work environment. This environment has changed significantly with the impact of the global arena, changing demographics, technological development, and legislation. Human Resources Departments can be the very source of an organization’s competitive advantage if they are managed effectively and by having a say in how each job description is designed and then select the right person for that vacant position. We all have heard of horrific stories of downsizing that turned out to be dumbsizing  and massive layoffs. According to the Harvard Business School, many of those organizations involved in downsizing were negatively impacted in terms of their financial performance instead of saving money. The move to high performance organizations reflects today’s emphasis on human resources as an indispensable asset that is also viewed as a long-term investment and not on cutting your workforce in half. This is not how your father found a job. However, one thing that will always be true, is the legal environment within which all businesses operate. The Human Resource Department has to be proactive and ensure that all managers are appropriately educated about the legal requirements. It is imperative that managers have a solid understanding of the legislation that impacts employment regardless of the level of technology injected into its practices.

Comments
  1. Paulette Milord says:

    It is quite obvious that HR Department has headed to a new paradigm many decades ago. HR plays a preponderent role in aligning business strategies with orgarnizational effectiveness. The question that comes to mind is: do all companies view HR as an active part of the business in today’s global market?

    Paulette Milord

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