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I have been begging VPs of HR to hire human resources business analysts.

This is true. If you’ve never heard of that job, here is a description from Amazon. (Side note: they use iCIMS. I don’t know what that surprises me, but it does.)

Anyway, the job description starts off like this:

The Amazon Device team designs and engineers high-profile consumer electronics, including the best-selling Kindle family of products. We have also produced groundbreaking devices like Fire tablets, Fire TV, Fire phone, and Amazon Echo. What will you help us create? Work hard. Have fun. Make history.

You could do worse for a compelling brand.

In this role, you will be part of the Kindle Human Resources organization and work closely with HR and Recruiting teams across the globe, building on your strong analytical skills to support the team with regular production of metrics and analytics that are meaningful and scalable. Reporting to the Director, Human Resources, you will work closely with a wide range of business professionals across Amazon, including HR and Recruiting, to apply advanced modeling techniques and build predictive models to help drive business decision-making.

It is a wordy description to say, “You get to build something cool.” Amazon must have expectations for regular reports on meaningful HR metrics, but you get to build something—predictive models that inform important business decisions. That’s pretty sweet. Every HR leader needs this for her team. Can’t afford to hire for this role? Move existing headcount. Can’t move existing headcount? Get an intern, dammit.

Now let’s move on to the duties of the job. I hate bullet-driven lists in job descriptions. Can’t we find a better way, especially when activities like these are pretty important?! But look at these responsibilities:

* Develop and maintain recruiting and HR scorecards for leaders in the Kindle organization that include analysis of recruitment cycle performance and results, as well as predictive indicators and modeling of future performance
* Design, develop and evaluate highly innovative models for forecasting purposes
* Establish scalable, efficient, automated processes for large scale data analyses
* Provide ad-hoc or special project data analysis to HR and business leaders that enable them to achieve their goals, drive decision making and create new strategies where necessary
* Gather and manage large datasets from multiple sources
* Contribute to the research of external benchmark information that enables HR teams to foresee future talent trends
* Build and maintain strong partnerships across HR and the business

Do you see a theme here? (“Forecast. Predict. Benchmark. Data. Help us figure out where we’re going.”) Beyond delivering payroll and keeping clocks running, this is the skill set that every HR leader needs on her team.

Now here comes the dump.

Preferred Qualifications:
* Driven and results oriented, with strong business acumen and quantitative analytical abilities
* Experience in SQL and ability to create queries using SQL
* Ability to create custom pivot tables and create dynamic charts and graphs from complex data
* Innovative collaborator who designs unique analytical tools and methodologies
* High degree of accuracy and expertise in the use of leading edge tools for all data creation, research, and analyses
* Knowledge of basic or advanced statistical techniques
* Ability to use R Statistical Computing Language
* Ability to work independently, as well as an active member of both business and HR teams
* Ability to create, maintain and disseminate information to stakeholders for multiple projects/work streams at one time
* Excellent written and verbal communication; high-quality document and report preparation
* Strong skills using Microsoft Office products, expert in Excel

Your normal crop of HR students don’t have any of these skills. Maybe strong communication skills and Excel. (Maybe.)

I think it would be neat to see a university with an existing HR program team up with a not-for-profit STEM program to help young HR colleagues navigate the new rules of work. Crack the code between managing people and data in a meaningful way, and you crack the code for the future of human resources.

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13 Responses to The Future of HR: Human Resources Business Analyst
  1. Greg Roche

    I’ve had BAs on my last 2 HR teams and they have been the MVPs of the team. Short of a STEM type program, we just made the positions about BA work that applied to HR and made the job appealing to them – no stuffy HR rules or old school HR handbook stuff – just figure out how to measure and drive performance in the people part of the organization.

  2. akabruno

    You are 100% correct regarding the skills of current HR students. I had an alum write me regarding skills sets of current students, and she wrote

    “We are having a hard time finding students who know Word and Excel. Even in business schools at DePaul and Loyola, the students aren’t learning it. They type a basic paper, but that’s it. Some can’t even do a formula in Excel or know how to format a spreadsheet. We’ve interviewed about 8 students from 3 schools so far. I would encourage an online class, or maybe something over the summer at a community college where it’s cheap. Even my library has some basic classes for free. Right now, we are just hiring for an intern and can’t find these skills.”

    • ruettimann

      Thanks, Matt. At what point do we hold universities accountable for graduating kids who can’t contribute to the workforce?

  3. Kahla

    I mayyy be biased – since this is the field I want to get my master’s in – but it sounds like industrial-organizational psychology would help prepare students for this kind of role.

  4. Ken Gardner

    Great post! I’m new to HR and the BA position is exactly what I’m trying to position myself as at my organization.

    Total aside though, you said,

    , what type of format do you prefer?

    • ruettimann

      I’m not sure. Lists are out.

  5. Kyle Ackeret

    I couldn’t agree with this more. In my last role I was effectively an HR BA (not bad @$$, although that may be true too). I think one of the main problems is that most HR departments don’t want to invest in an analytical person because those people aren’t always going to follow down the general HR career path (might not have the “people skills” you supposedly need to be an HRBP). Maybe the HR field isn’t attracting the right people?

    • ruettimann

      Thanks, Kyle. Some truth there.

  6. […] reading, Laurie Ruettimann talks about the value add this skill set can add to an organization here,... rorytrotter.com/2015/06/03/the-importance-of-analytical-thinking-ability-in-hr
  7. Amit Narayan Bhagwat

    I am not sure if there is any future for HR Business Analyst but I am sure with such lengthy JD candidate will get dis-interested.

    Companies should have to the point JD