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HR Analytics: What should I put in the Job Description for an HR Analyst?

Published by Giles Slinger

We Need You

We Need YouYesterday when I chaired the CIPD HR Analytics conference 2014, one thing attendees repeatedly asked was: how do we find the people to fill the HR analyst role?

Most speakers agreed that it was easier to find a recruit with top quality analytical skills and train them in HR, rather than turn a top quality HR person into an analyst…

With that in mind, I thought it would be worth sharing a recent job post that we have made. Although this is for our development team, we are looking for an advanced version of the same skills needed for HR analytics. The key message for us is a combination of skills: an interest and capability in data visualisation and analytics, combined with the ability to communicate with people in the business.

Where are we looking?

Typically, we have looked for graduates, rather than people with industry experience, and for analytical degree courses: mathematics, engineering, physics, chemistry, economics. But we’ve also included a get out clause: ‘or a great story’ – because we recognise that at the start of an industry, people with all sorts of interesting skills might not have followed conventional routes. We’ve started with the major universities in the UK, but there are not necessarily that many of the really high quality graduates we seek, and we’re increasingly looking worldwide.

What skills do we seek?

Typically, we’re looking for people comfortable / excited to work with data and with software code; a flair for visual design; an ability to be client facing; to be a self-starter; to work well in a small team; to be innovative & creative in finding solutions; and with a desire to learn.

What knowledge is needed?

Ideally we’d look for programming skills. Examples? Javascript, SVG and / or HTML5 Canvas; experience with data visualisation frameworks such as D3.js. These are high-end developer skills, and the development team even put in some funky technical language at this point “comfort with a polyglot approach to data storage, handling interfaces with graph databases, relationship databases and document databases.” I hope this was a screen. I’m not personally a polyglot on data storage…

If we were recruiting for an HR analytics role in a mainstream business, our knowledge requirement would probably focus more on everyday software applications. We would look for experience with Excel, Access, Visual Basic, SQL query writing. Mastery of statistical packages, such as SPSS or R, may be a good indicator for technical capacity but will only be used rarely in many analytical roles, and a good analyst will pick up those skills quickly.

How to screen?

We apply the usual filters on our candidate recruitment days: a bespoke maths test, interviews with 3 of our team. But we also screen interview candidates. We send a test case to be completed by the candidate themselves. We ask for the results to be returned before the interview. This has been the most reliable indicator for us of the technical capability and interest in the role that we seek. We provide a sample dataset in excel and our OrgVue software, and ask the candidate to produce a set of powerpoint slides capturing insights and messages about the data. It provides an excellent starting point for the conversation and does a great job of differentiating people from the start who are genuinely interested in the work and genuinely capable of doing it.

That’s how we do it. I’d be fascinated to hear a comparison with others of how they describe the job role and the skills they seek.Job description