What does the job market look like post-COVID? I know, we’re not quite there yet, but I’m certainly seeing a lot more business leaders moving into great new roles, as well as a lot more optimism about the near future. So what’s the landscape like?

Here in Illinois, Crain’s Chicago Business just published a list of the 10 most in-demand jobs (subscription required). At first glance, the list did not surprise me. The top eight jobs are all technical IT jobs — except one. But that one, the HR specialist at No. 5, did surprise me. 

In this digital world of ours, where so many of us have been living on screens and keyboards for the past year, why is there a big demand for specialists in the management of human capital?

After all, we keep hearing about the increasing sophistication of technological tools to manage and measure human performance. People analytics can provide an amazing array of information about employees, job candidates and organizational structures, both formal and informal. Artificial intelligence is getting smarter all the time. So why the demand for HR specialists? 

For one, every busy manager knows getting great job candidates takes work. HR professionals are adept at recruiting, onboarding and training as well as employee engagement and retention. Add to that all the workplace upheaval brought on by the pandemic. “HR reps are in strong demand because there have been so many changes over the past year, ranging from testing and safety protocol to everything that goes with remote work,” Crain’s explains. In addition, HR assists in decisions about business systems and technology.

Why one of the most in-demand jobs is good news

What does this tell us about the critical capabilities for today’s HR leaders? First, it is crucially important that HR departments are highly technically savvy. In addition to the business acumen that has long distinguished the best HR leaders, a high level of competence in using technological tools is a key skill in today’s HR market.

Second, I am reminded of something I learned at the annual Wharton People Analytics Conference a few years ago. After two days of intense immersion in the latest technological tools, I was stunned when the final speaker told us, “The best decisions about human capital are based on two things — sophisticated analytics and human wisdom.” Human wisdom? I had not expected to hear that phrase at this conference. But he was right. And perhaps one of the reasons that companies are actively recruiting HR leaders is that the best ones bring that second quality — wisdom.

This is good news for those of us who are fascinated by the human psyche and committed to helping companies build great workplaces that are both joyful and productive. There is a bright future for the companies who are investing in their HR talent.


For more insight into how to combine analytics and wisdom to build great companies, contact us today.

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