The best HR jobs for 2017

  • career advice
  • February 08, 2017
As the economy continues to rebound, employers are ramping up hiring in most industries and major markets. That translates to increased need for human resources professionals in 2017. More hiring means businesses need seasoned HR professionals to recruit, hire, retain and train the workforce. Competition for the most talented HR professionals will be fierce in 2017. While the national unemployment rate was 4.7 percent in December 2016, HR professionals had a jobless rate of just 2.2 percent.

What can HR professionals expect to earn in 2017? HR salaries will range from $58,800 to $92,950, with the median being $75,850. With almost 50,000 HR job openings across the United States in October 2016, there’s an average of 21 candidates per job opening, making these jobs challenging to fill, according to Randstad research.

Using its extensive knowledge of hiring trends, Randstad has predicted the five most in-demand HR jobs in 2017: HR generalist/business partner, HR manager/director, compensation and benefits manager, learning and development specialist and recruitment specialist.

HR Generalist/Business Partner

HR generalists and business partners possess the depth and breadth of knowledge on some, but not all aspects of HR. These individuals may do payroll, while also assisting in hiring of certain talent, in addition to conducting employee orientation or training. HR generalists are often responsible for the day-to-day employee benefits administration, often payroll, and employee paperwork. Acting as a strategic partner, business partners work with executives and managers across the organization to identify talent needs and make recommendations.

Successful candidates have excellent communication skills, display a high attention to detail and knowledge of HR compliance rules and common software such as PeopleSoft. HR generalists or business partners must have specialized knowledge of talent acquisition and retention, succession planning and compensation and workforce engagement.

Between 2016 and 2015, the number of open HR generalist and business partner jobs jumped by 8 percent. Annual salaries are expected to range from $62,626 to $75,339, with the midpoint being $68,266, according to Randstad employment data.

HR Manager/Director

Depending on company size, the HR manager or director is responsible for all of functions that deal with the needs and activities of the organization's people including recruiting, hiring, training, performance management, team building, and salary and benefits.

Demand for HR managers and directors is expected to remain robust in 2017 and beyond. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the number of HR managers to increase by 9 percent, from 2014 to 2024, faster than average for all occupations. Between 2016 and 2015, the number of HR manager or director jobs increased by 7 percent, according to Randstad research. Annual salaries are expected to range from $99,884 to $121,227, with the midpoint being $109,164, according to Randstad employment data.

Compensation and Benefits Manager

Hiring and retaining employees is vital to the overall health of an organization. And skilled HR compensation and benefits managers are in high demand for their expertise in designing completive compensation and benefits plans, as well as negotiating and administering healthcare and retirement plans.

In 2017, compensation and benefits managers are expected to earn $108,161 to $131,274 a year, with the midpoint being $118,210, according to Randstad employment research. And demand will be healthy this year -- there was a 2 percent jump in these positions between 2015 to 2016.

Learning and Development Specialist

To remain competitive, businesses of all sizes are investing in employees training programs. As a result, learning and development specialists are expected to be in-demand in 2017. Learning and development specialists design, conduct and organize training programs to improve employee performance and ensure productivity. Successful candidates have strong communication and presentation skills.

In 2017, learning and development specialists will earn $44,200 to $85,540 a year, with the midpoint totaling $65,000, according the Randstad research. There was a 1 percent increase in the number of these openings between 2015 to 2016.

Recruitment Specialist

With unemployment dropping, companies are aggressively hunting for the best talent. Therefore, recruitment specialists are needed to source talent for businesses, from initially contacting job seekers to interviewing to screening and conducting reference checks for candidates.

This year, recruitment specialists will earn $62,581 to $75,954, with the midpoint being $68,395 a year. Spurred by a strong job market, there was a 10 percent increase in the number of recruitment specialist job openings from 2015 to 2016.

It’s a job seeker's market. 2017 is a great time to explore HR careers in demand – from HR manager to learning development specialists to compensation and benefits managers. 

See our full list of the best HR jobs in 2017.