Chapter 70 Careers in Human Resource Analytics

Various career pathways in human resource (HR) analytics (i.e., people analytics, talent analytics, workforce analytics, human capital analytics) exist across for-profit, not-for-profit, and government organizations. Depending on the organization and the role, educational minimum and preferred qualifications range from a Bachelor’s degree up to a Ph.D. degree, and commonly sought after majors and concentrations include industrial and organizational psychology, business administration, business analytics, statistics, mathematics, and data science. With that said, it’s not unheard of for people to make their way into a HR analytics career pathway from seemingly unrelated disciplines like physics, chemistry, and literature. The purpose of this chapter is to highlight educational pathways, career pathways, and job resources that can help you land your first or next HR analytics job.

Educational Pathways

Historically, people have made their way into HR analytics careers via a variety of educational pathways. Meaning, there are many ways to end up in HR analytics, with some being more direct than others.

Industrial and Organizational (I/O) Psychology. Obtaining a graduate degree in industrial and organizational psychology offers one of the more traditional pathways. I/O psychology Master’s and Ph.D. programs offer coursework on psychological theory as it relates to the workplace, human resource management, and statistics and data analytics. Numerous HR analytics leaders in well-known organizations have degrees in I/O psychology, and the discipline was a precursor to modern HR analytics. When completing a graduate program, I recommend seeking out electives and projects that involve advanced statistics and analytics (e.g., structural equation modeling, machine learning) and the application of a programming language like R or Python. Further, if you don’t already have a background in business, I recommend taking some general business courses or perhaps even minoring in business if that’s possible at your organization.

Business Administration. As someone who has taught undergraduate and graduate students seeking business administration degrees, I can attest that such degree seekers can land great internships and entry-level jobs in HR analytics. To signal interest and knowledge to the market, my recommendation is to concentrate (if possible) in human resource management, management, business analytics, or information systems. Further, some universities and colleges offer coursework in HR analytics, and if that’s the case for you, I strongly encourage you to take as many of those courses as you can. If your university or college does not offer HR analytics courses, I recommend taking other analytics courses that focus on human beings as the unit of analysis, such as marketing analytics or consumer analytics. Further, I recommend minoring in statistics or data science if possible, or at least taking some more advanced statistics and data science courses. Although not always possible for business administration students, I recommend enrolling in psychology, sociology, and general social science courses. Regardless of the courses taken as part of a business administration degree, I highly recommend learning a programming language like R or Python.

Economics. Undergraduate and graduate economics programs can provide transferable knowledge and skills related to statistics (e.g., econometrics) and labor supply and demand. Like business administration degree seekers, I recommend taking coursework to human behavior, such as human resource management, management, and psychology courses.

Statistics and Mathematics. An undergraduate or graduate degree in statistics or mathematics can build important knowledge and skills related to theory and application. Some programs even offer coursework in survey design and sampling. If possible, try to make it over to the psychology department or business school to take courses that focus on the application of statistics and mathematics to a human and/or business context.

Data science. Based on my observations, data science undergraduate and graduate programs have proliferated in recent years. Some programs reside within computer science or engineering schools, others in statistics or mathematics departments, and some in stand-alone departments. Regardless, these programs tend to introduce students to programming languages, data management and engineering, and advanced analytics. Like traditional statistics and mathematics programs, data science programs are sometimes area agnostic, meaning that they aren’t tied to a particular discipline like business or oceanography. Thus, I recommend taking outside courses that relate to human behavior, whether psychology, human resource management, marketing, or another social science discipline.

Job Types & Career Pathways

HR analytics roles can be generally lumped into two broad categories: internal and external.

Internal roles focus inwardly on improving the organization’s own people decisions, systems, policies, and practices. These roles can vary widely. Example job titles include (but are not limited to):

  • Research Scientist
  • People Research Scientist
  • People Research Lead
  • People Analytics Researcher
  • People Analytics Engineer
  • People Data Engineer
  • People Insights Analyst
  • People Insights Partner
  • People Analyst
  • People Data Analyst
  • Talent Analyst
  • Talent Management Analyst
  • HR Analyst
  • Workforce Analyst
  • Human Capital Analyst
  • Total Rewards Analyst
  • HRIS Analyst
  • HRIS Administrator
  • Program Analyst
  • Global HR Analytics & Insights Analyst
  • People Analytics Consultant
  • Analytics Consultant
  • Workforce Analytics Data Scientist
  • Employee Listening Researcher
  • Employee Listening Specialist
  • Assessment Specialist
  • Personnel Psychologist
  • People Science Research Manager
  • Talent Assessment Program Manager
  • Artificial Intelligence Program Manager
  • Surveys & Engagement Manager
  • HR Technology Manager
  • Talent Planning & Insights Manager
  • HR Workforce Analytics Manager
  • Director of People Analytics & Research
  • Director of Talent Intelligence
  • People Operations Director
  • Senior Vice President of Workforce Planning

External roles often reside in a consulting firm or a technology vendor, and the goal is to provide products and services aimed at supporting other organizations’ people decisions, systems, policies, and practices. Example job titles include (but are not limited to):

  • Workforce Solution Consultant
  • Human Capital Business Consultant
  • Talent Measurement Consultant
  • Assessment Consultant
  • Research Scientist
  • Test Development Manager
  • Psychometrician
  • Customer Success Manager
  • Senior Consultant of Workforce Analytics & Insights

Job Board Resources

When you’re on the hunt of a HR analytics role, there are several job boards to check out and check in with regularly. Below, I list the job boards that I am most familiar with. I recommend starting with the One Model job board, as it’s nicely curated and organization and specific to HR analytics.

  • One Model Job Board. Richard Rosenow and his team at One Model host a regularly updated HR analytics job board, including links to the job postings. They tend to update the site every 2-4 weeks and, at times, include more than 500 roles from the U.S., Canada, U.K., and Australia. Jobs are separated into the following categories, which facilitates searching: Director, Senior Director, and VP; Manager and Senior Manager; Individual Contributor; Data Engineering and Data Governance; Internships and Academic Postings.
  • LinkedIn. While not HR analytics specific, LinkedIn’s job search tool is a great way to identify recently posted roles. I recommend using the following search terms: HR Analytics, Human Resource Analytics, Human Resources Analytics, Human Capital Analytics, People Analytics, Talent Analytics, and Workforce Analytics.
  • Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology Job Board. Some organizations post HR Analytics jobs to the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology’s (SIOP’s) job board, but based on my observations, it is not widely used in this regard. Still, you might uncover a job or two that look promising.
  • USAJOBS. USAJOBS is the U.S. federal government’s official job board. The site is easy to search; however, a challenge can be finding jobs that are directly related to HR analytics, as many jobs share the same job title (e.g., Data Scientist, Data Analyst) but involve different fields (e.g., Human Resources, Engineering). If you have not worked in the federal government and/or have not previously worked in the military, then I recommend filtering your search by selecting “Open to the public” under the “Hiring Path” filter; doing so, will return only those jobs where an outside candidate may be hired. And if you are currently a student or a recent graduate, then I recommend selecting “Students” or “Recent Grads” under the same “Hiring Path” filter. In terms of search terms, I recommend searching the following job titles: Human Resources Analyst, Data Scientist, Data Analyst, and Human Resources.

Thought Leaders

To stay up-to-date on recent advances, trends, and even job postings, I recommend following these individuals (and podcasts) on LinkedIn, with individuals listed in alphabetical order by last name. Some of the listed individuals work in HR analytics roles while others work outside of HR analytics but perform work this is nonetheless relevant to HR analytics.