The HR Generalist looks after general HR strategy and/or operations, covering the whole spectrum of HR-related matters. HR Generalists may sometimes cover specialist areas as part of their mandate, such as Talent Acquisition, Talent Management or Compensation design. At the most strategic level, the HR Generalist works closely with the business in aligning people strategy with business imperatives. HR Generalists of this type are referred to as HR Business Partners, and they commonly act as sole contributors who influence various stakeholders in the execution of their duties.
At their most operational level, the HR Generalist is an administrator responsible for HR policies such as employment contracts and payroll systems. This latter category of HR Generalist is often more suited to a career in the field of HR Operations, but most generalist roles contain an element of both extremes, and an ideal HR Generalist is often someone who can span these two worlds.
HR Generalists usually enjoy the variety of their role – one day they may be implementing a new compensation strategy to improve employee retention, the next they may be coaching the senior management team on leadership development tools. This is particularly the case for HR Business Partners, who need to balance a mix of hard execution skills with soft influencing skills in order to get their job done. On the more operational end of the spectrum, generalist roles can sometimes be reactive in nature, and it can be hard to find time to put together long-term strategies when there are daily fires to extinguish. Whichever the case, career prospects for HR Generalists can be good, as their helicopter view of HR lends itself to senior team management roles.
Example Job Titles
HR Director; HR Vice President; HR Senior Vice President; HR Executive Vice President; Chief HR Officer; Senior HR Business Partner; Group Head of HR