From HR Generalist to HR Strategist

If you are pursuing a career in the human resources profession, and you hope to climb the corporate ladder, you will want to become adept at strategic thinking, planning and implementation – in other words, transitioning from HR Generalist to HR Strategist.

Sure, there will always be a need for the HR Generalist, who implements traditional HR duties day to day, but the person who understands strategy and applies this skill so that traditional HR duties will specifically advance the corporation’s business objectives, will quickly become a more valued player in any organization.

Benjamin Campbell, an assistant management professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, summarizes it this way.

“Market conditions change, technology changes, competitors change. I think this is one area in which HR is really important but largely overlooked. You hear about companies changing their products or their production technology, but you don’t hear as much about how to change the workforce to support those things… In a dynamic environment, you need a dynamic workforce. You have to make sure you have the right employees with the right skills to support the strategic objectives of the company.”

A good starting point to influence these desired outcomes is to make strategic changes to the company’s background screening program. This process should begin with an internal dialogue that starts with a series of questions, like these:

  • What are the company’s goals and what types of people will help reach these?
  • What are the most desired character traits that we want in our workforce?
  • What kinds of character traits represent a threat to the company’s goals?
  • How much risk should the company assume to secure the right kind of talent?
  • What other considerations must we factor before we make a job offer?

Once you’ve settled on specific hiring criteria that aligns with the company’s big-picture objectives, you can then determine how background screening will be used to achieve your hiring objectives and build screening packages that will help you make the best hires.

For example, some companies include an education verification in their screening package because certain positions require a formal level of education, but education verifications can be used strategically to determine if a person is honest, regardless of the position requirements. If a person pads their resume with false education credentials, what else would they be willing to lie about – and at whose expense?

Random drug screening is another tool that can be used to evaluate someone’s character. If people are illegally using controlled substances recreationally, what does this behavior say about their honesty and their ability to make responsible decisions on the job?

Social media screening is another tool that can be utilized to determine if a person will integrate well with the corporate culture. This tool should only be utilized by a third-party, like an employment screening company, to avoid risk of Title 7 claims – and it should be structured with input from legal counsel – but it can be a very effective tool to evaluate character traits important to the company.

There are a variety of background screening tools that can be utilized in a strategic manner, either alone or in combination with other searches, to build a safe, productive workforce that enhances the company’s culture, compliments the company’s brand and is fully committed to the company’s long-term success – while minimizing risks to the company’s wellbeing.

Making these kinds of changes to your background screening program is a great way to transition from standard HR to strategic HR and will help you start viewing other HR functions through a strategic lens.

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Topics: Education Verification, Background Screening, Drug Screening, Pre Employment Background Checks, Social Media Screening, HR Strategist

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