Job title and responsibilities


I am at the beginning of my HR career. Following my educational background (BA in Personnel Consultancy) one year ago I completed CIPD qualification ( Assoc CIPD). Additionally, I am a mother with gap in my career so I struggle to get into HR filed with no experience in HR (just 10 years work in admin and PA positions which I held long time ago).Finally, 6 months ago I found a job in a small accountancy office (with 7 employees on the board). Although the owner offered me only admin duties with some bookkeeping  she asked me if I can do HR in her company and she was very positive that I'm a CIPD member, participating in CIPD events. I created for her company new staff handbook (she asked to put my name as an HR officer for staff to contact), I informed staff about HR news and interesting tips, I updated her about legislative changes and so on.  I offered my help with creating job description, employment contracts,induction process. I've done bookkeeping (which I had to learn) and HR. The most important thing in this story is that I do never received  my job description and....no signed contract. When I asked about this docs, she sent me an offer letter with position of administration assistant..I feel cheated because this is not exactly what I do and it's very low position according to my CIPD qualification (and even my previous experience). I requested for changing to HR officer/ Administrator but she refused explaining that it isn't what I am doing in her company and it is illegal (?!)..I tried to explain her that to show that you have a professional HR on a board can be good for the firm image and the same time is very important for me to have a job title which is related with HR because of my professional further and exposition to social media, CV and so on but still she didn't want to change it. Finally I did not sign contract with her...I feel that she used me..I am upset because I worked 6 months for this company and I can't prove it..I know that it was my mistake that I didn't ask from the beginning for job description and employment agreement..but I was desperate to do an HR job and gain some experience...  

  • Keith

    | 10928 Posts

    Chartered Fellow

    20 Apr, 2017 19:02

    I am not sure that the owner has been dishonest. She employed you for admin duties but was happy to use you for some additional HR tasks. Whilst she could call you a HR office or even HR Director if she wanted I am not sure either is totally what you are doing.

    And additionally calling you that only really makes you more employable externally sobhas little benefit for current employer.

    At this level the main thing is what you are doing rather than the job title and I would focus your cv and social media presence around that. I would also not feel bitter but feel incredibly grateful that you now have some practical experience to add to your academic qualification.
  • In reply to Keith:

    Thank you Keith for your response
  • In reply to Keith:

    Can I just piggy back on to this and see if I can get some similar advice? I'm an HR Advisor but feel my role is a lot more than that. I've worked as an HRA in 3 previous jobs and know the difference. My role now feels more like that of an HR ops manager, as I basically manage all day to day activity of the department; make key decisions; manage budgets for recruitment/health & wellbeing/L&D/admin; have lead accountability for all those areas as well as our internship programme; writing policies....

    I would like to know if colleagues think I am right to say this is more than what an HRA would usually be tasked with? In my previous roles it has been mainly dealing with ER issues and advising managers, and in terms of career progression I feel I've developed a lot in this role and it has grown over the last couple of years. I am just a bit frustrated that my HRD doesn't feel the job title should be changed. I'm not even looking for a salary raise as I feel the pay is reasonable and again, this is an indication as I am paid more than the going rate for most HRA jobs.

    I understand that perhaps it doesn't matter but I feel it does. My CV (if I were to update it now) would have 4 straight HRA roles on it and I believe people do still get influenced by the title even if the devil is in the detail. I'm not looking to move on at the moment but may do one day and I feel the job title could hold me back - especially as I've not had anything like Senior HRA or HRBP either.

    I last raised this about a year ago and was told that as we're not a huge company, the role of an HRA here is never going to be just ER focussed, because there isn't enough of that for a full time job. So there is wide breadth in the role, but it isn't doing anything at a level more senior than the advisory work an HRA normally undertakes. My experience has been that HRA's normally feed into a senior HRA or BP - my HRD leaves the day to day running of the department to me (and she is only part time anyway) while she deals with OD and director strategy.

    Should I bring this up again or let it be? Am I over-valuing what I do or have I got a point? Would welcome thoughts of others, especially those in senior posts who may have managed roles like this before.
  • Keith

    | 10928 Posts

    Chartered Fellow

    3 May, 2017 12:52

    In reply to William:

    Sounds like most people would call your role a HRBP or HRM. So if its important to you then ask again but think about what your HRDs objections might be and prepare for them. Also think about what other people in your organisation who you equate your role to are called.
  • Johanna

    | 951 Posts

    CIPD Staff

    3 May, 2017 13:44

    Hi Barbara thanks for posting :) Although the role didn't turn out to be what you were hoping for (on paper) the experience sounds valuable and it's up to you really how you write about it on your CV going forward. So you could truthfully say you worked for six months as an Administrative Assistant with HR responsibilities in an SME.

  • Robey

    | 1710 Posts

    Chartered Member

    3 May, 2017 14:35

    In reply to William:

    I frequently see jobs being advertised as "HR Business Partner" that are no more than glorified HR Advisors, because, oh look! A bandwagon!

    HR BPs should only exist in organizations large enough to have discreet business units where the HR team operates as a supplier of services to internal customers. If the relationship isn't that structured, there's no need for HR BPs except to pad the CVs of the post-holders.

    An HR Manager, as a rule, should be managing either an HR team or the whole HR function (in an SME) or both. Whether it would be appropriate to you depends on your relationship with the rest of the HR team.
  • In reply to Robey:

    I agree - I don't think I'm in a BP role as we're not big enough, and also my role isn't very strategic, it's mostly operational. The team is small, the only other person we have is a HR and payroll administrator and then payroll officers and a payroll manager (who I feel my role is equivalent to). Nearly every other department has a director or head, and then a manager - yet in HR we have an Advisor. I will raise it again but don't really understand the objection, which merely seems to be she doesn't agree the role equates to one of HRM.
  • In reply to William:

    Could the objection be to do with line management? Where I'm based there seems to be a reluctance to give someone the title of manager if there isn't any direct people management involved
  • Keith

    | 10928 Posts

    Chartered Fellow

    3 May, 2017 17:10

    In reply to Julie Dix:

    I think its a somewhat old fashioned view to insist people have direct reports to be called a manager. There is no real need for this IMO.

    Given the relative structures in other departments and the delegated roles that the HRD gives to you I see no real problem wit this being a genuine HRM role. But that's not the same as getting someone else to agree it

    (At a tangent I think the role and use of HRBP has moved on considerably from the original days of Ulrich which are perhaps referenced above - I think you - any bandwagon was perhaps 20 years ago rather than now)
  • In reply to Keith:

    Thanks all for the input. And yes, a lot of the other departments with a manager role does not involve managing people but more the processes of the department.
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