How to Hire a VP of HR

VP of hr with their team

People are one of, if not the most important assets of every business. Making your business appealing in the job market, hiring top talent, and retaining top talent can be one of the hardest tasks in business today. Employee churn rates are higher than ever, so hiring a world-class Vice President of Human Resources (VP of HR) should be the main priority of any business. This guide will explore what a VP of HR does, what you may need from your VP of HR, and How to hire a VP of HR.

What does a VP of HR do?

The responsibilities of a VP of HR are many and varied. They may include but are not limited to the following:

  • Hiring and firing employees
  • Creating and enforcing company policy
  • Handling employee relations issues
  • Overseeing benefits and compensation
  • Training and development
  • Employee engagement
  • Employee retention

Who do they report to? A VP of HR typically reports to the CEO or COO of a company. In large companies, the VP of HR can report to the CHRO. However, in smaller companies, they may report to the owner or President.

What qualities should you look for in a VP of HR?

When looking for a VP of HR, you should look for someone with strong communication skills. They should be able to speak to both senior management and front-line employees. They should also have a deep understanding of the ever-changing landscape of employment law. Additionally, they bring a career history of success in managing and developing talent.

Are you a tech company who hires developers and sales people? Are you a science company that hires scientists and engineers? Are you a construction company that hires construction workers? You will generally find the skills and understanding to hire, train and retain people in these different sectors varies. So keep that in mind during the recruitment process.

The following are some qualities and attributes that high-quality VP of HR’s possess:

Strategic. They don’t function in isolation. Instead, exceptional HR leaders comprehend their company’s strategy, show interest in its vision, and match their efforts with the objectives of their company. They are aware of the definition of high performance and how to foster it through talent management.

Pioneering. Extraordinary HR leaders develop innovative strategies for attracting, managing, and developing talent while realizing that in order to compete, they must set themselves apart from rival employers and employ novel tactics. They are advocates for, creators of, and designers of innovative global talent initiatives. Excellent HR leaders evaluate, take advantage of, and apply new technology to increase the accuracy and efficiency of their departments’ daily operations. They don’t hesitate to adopt cutting-edge technology to enhance their procedures and systems.

Empathetic. Outstanding HR executives are trustworthy and innately compassionate. They always prioritise their employees’ needs and interests. Their compassionate nature and emotional intelligence inform wise but kind policy decisions and foster wholesome workplace relationships.

Problem-solver. Excellent problem solvers and crisis managers make for outstanding HR leaders. Many unforeseen and complicated legal, employee, and management issues can be solved through human resources. Excellent HR managers work to avoid, address, and significantly lessen negative effects on the company.

Communicator. Strong communicators and influencers make for highly effective HR leaders. They can influence new ways of doing things and offer advice on a variety of HR-related issues to enhance the organization’s operations. They are able to effectively facilitate change and communicate with both managers and employees. Over time, they develop relationships with their staff members by listening to them.

Forward-thinking. They make plans for the future of their workplaces, identifying potential risks and advantages for enticing and keeping their best employees as well as strategies for improving the culture of their company. To protect their organizations and stay on top of the game, they make sure they are ready for challenges.

Impassioned. Great HR executives are passionate and enthusiastic about what they do, where they work, their industry, and most crucially, talent – discovering it, enabling it, engaging it, and developing it. Whether they are subject matter experts (SMEs) in a particular area of HR, are generalists, or manage the function, they genuinely enjoy what they do.

Principled. Great HR leaders serve as the moral compass for their organizations since they deal with sensitive information and concerns ranging from employee medical conditions and performance issues to legal matters. They go above and beyond what might be considered adequate or required by law to accomplish what is right for their people, even if it costs more or takes longer.

How to Hire a VP of HR

The process of hiring a VP of HR can be a long and tedious one. Hopefully, some of the following suggestions can aid you in the hiring of a VP of HR. Make the investment upfront to consider those aspects your company needs now and in the future. Doing so will help you avoid mistakes that could cost your company both time and money. Key stakeholders should be allowed to contribute ideas as long as they align with your company’s overall vision and strategic direction. Ultimately, the President will make many of these decisions, but the VP of HR will touch all departments, which is why I suggest soliciting feedback to mitigate risk.

Develop a search team

Involve everyone who will work closely with your VP of HR in the process. You need all their input to ensure you hire the right candidate with the right experience for the VP of HR role in your business. This can include the leadership of various departments, such as your VP of Engineering, VP of sales, COO, CEO, President and more.

Having a core team removes bias in your hire, aligns your team and makes sure your company’s needs will be met.

What is your company’s vision in the next 6 months, 1 year, 2 years and onwards?

As your search team, you need to discuss your company’s needs. Some questions could be:

  • Are you planning to rapidly scale?
  • Are you planning to restructure?
  • Do you have a retention problem?
  • Do you mainly hire scientists, developers, sales people or something else?
  • How do you perceive your HR priorities to change in the next 3-24 months?
  • Who is your VP of HR going to report to?
  • What HR tools do you use?
  • Do they need to work with outside agencies?

Most members of your selection committee should have similar answers or areas of importance concerning hiring a VP of HR. I would pay close attention when there are outlying ideas as often they can become meaningful once vetted by the overall group. Having an open and candid discussion will ensure you get alignment and a general understanding of what success would look like in a new VP of HR.

Work with an Executive Search Firm

Your team may not know how to hire a VP of HR or how to go about finding the best candidates for your business. Executive Search Firms are networks of highly experienced executive search consultants, and the firm I work with, Boyden, is a prime example. We have offices in over 43 countries around the world. Each of these offices has experienced consultants in their local markets, with each member specializing in industries of focus or functional roles. If you need help with your executive search, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Our knowledge and expertise can help you find the best VP of HR candidates for your business.  Boyden invests heavily in our executive search process by investigating time in understanding your company’s needs.  We focus on finding world-class candidates, vetting against the qualities and attributes sought, guiding your team through the hiring process, and giving you guidance and advice along the way.

Hiring a great leader can take months, so being able to offload this work from your current standing leadership is often a prudent decision.  A good search partner will help you get better candidates faster due to their depth of knowledge, experience, and substantial network.

Additionally, as your relationship grows with the executive search firm, they will only get better at finding better candidates faster.

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