Discover the twelve career areas within the people profession - and decide which is right for you.
Be a force for positive change
The people profession is uniquely placed to drive positive change in the world of work. By understanding, communicating and unlocking the value of an organisation’s people, the profession enables sustainable business outcomes which benefit all.
People professionals support the vision and goals of the organisation through great people interventions. Since organisations are made up of people, their role is to empower an organisation’s people to thrive - both individually and collectively. While the nature of specific roles may vary, we believe in supporting all people professionals to champion better work and working lives.
Supported by the new Profession Map, people professionals are uniquely placed to drive change, manage complexity and navigate uncertainty in a fast-changing world.
Here are five reasons to become a people professional:
1. Support people
The people function plays a vital role in both organisation performance and people’s careers by making sure the right people are in the right jobs. But attracting people to the organisation is just the beginning. How do you encourage your people to stay with you and perform to the best of their abilities, day in, day out? Are you supporting them with the skills, training and development they need to build long‐term careers? How do you empower them to work together to drive organisation success? What about protecting their rights to make sure they’re fairly rewarded and treated at work?
These questions underline the critical role people experts play in the world of work.
2. Work anywhere
The people profession opens doors to jobs in every sector, allowing you to build your career internationally or at home in an industry you’re passionate about. From media and engineering to banks and charities, every industry and company needs to hire the expertise of a people professional - no matter where in the world you are.
My career in HR so far has meant I’ve worked around the world, for brands I love, on projects that matter, and with people I admire. What’s not to like? HR gives you a passport to get right across any organisation, and to move between industries and sectors
Chartered Fellow and Founder of Starboard Thinking
3. Progress your career
A career in the people profession offers long‐term options and a huge variety of roles within twelve career areas. You could be involved in recruiting or coaching employees one day, or helping your company decide how employees should be rewarded the next. There are even roles which focus on employment law, protecting the rights of employees at work.
You can start off your career as a People Administrator and progress all the way to the top of the organisation as a People Director, helping to drive the direction of the business. Some people specialists go on to be business owners and set up their own people consultancy companies.
Though opportunities in the profession vary, the profession is, broadly speaking, split into three distinct areas:
- Human resources (HR): An umbrella term for a range of different people practices which include all aspects of the employee lifecycle, from people entering the organisation to leaving it.
- Organisational design and development (OD&D): Behavioural science‐based approaches which take a systemic and holistic view of the organisation to drive performance and outcomes.
- Learning and development (L&D): Creating a culture of continuous growth, both at the organisational and individual level, through blended-learning approaches.
If you’d like to pursue a more specialised field, take a look at the twelve specialist areas within the profession.
4. Every day is different
You could find you’re rarely doing the same thing from one day to the next. Managing people can be complicated at times, so you’ll be kept on your toes meeting different challenges and creating opportunities.
‘The best thing about my job’, says Luke Smith, CIPD member and HR Assistant at Robert Dyas, 'is working in a fast‐paced environment; there’s always lots going on, every day is different.’
Here’s a taste of what you might do on a daily basis:
- Designing an organisation’s approach to employee engagement
- Working with trade unions on the development of new people practices
- Creating diverse and inclusive environments
- Reviewing capability requirements to define approaches to learning
- Driving culture-change programmes
- Coaching managers on the types of organisational design frameworks
- Working with data to create people insights
- Applying resourcing tools to hire the best people for the role
- Designing reward and benefits approaches
- Identifying and developing talent in the organisation.
5. Great earning potential
Not only are there lots of roles to apply for, but you’ll also have the chance to earn a competitive salary over time. If you’re just starting out in the profession from school or college, you could earn around £15,000–£18,000 a year. As you gain qualifications and experience, your salary might go up significantly; if you progress to the top, you could be earning over £100,000 as a People Director.
Salary isn’t always the primary motivation though. Member research has shown us that most people professionals derive a strong sense of purpose from their work and believe the profession offers a meaningful career.