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A Group Of Senior HR Executives Discussing Around A Conference Table

The Road to Becoming a CHRO

In every career, there are higher-level positions you can work towards. In the Human Resources world, a Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) is one of those high-level positions that many HR professionals aspire to become. But, because it’s highly sought after and an important responsibility, it doesn’t happen overnight. 

Here we’ll discuss the typical responsibilities, how they differ from other HR management positions, the skills you’ll need to acquire, and the HR career path that will lead you to become a CHRO.  

What Does a CHRO Do?

A CHRO heads up a company’s human resources division and implementation. As a corporate officer, they are part of the most senior level of leadership at their company. Employees are the most important part of a company, so HR leadership plays a big role. 

Because of their leadership role, CHROs typically design and plan different HR strategies to improve company culture and business endeavors. These strategies and plans are often passed down to other HR professionals within the company who implement them on smaller, localized levels. 

A CHRO can also be responsible for advising other senior-level leadership on HR-related matters, leading the company’s hiring process, creating new policies/initiatives and monitoring current ones, and ensuring a company’s employee culture is aligning with its overall objectives as a business. 

What is the Difference Between a CHRO and an HR Director?

A CHRO is responsible for big-picture tasks, such as the development of the strategies and management of HR, while an HR director, while still a high level of HR management, is responsible for more of the day-to-day tasks, like recruiting, payroll, and any employee relation issues that may arise. Typically, an HR director would report to a CHRO and a CHRO would report directly to the CEO. 

Skills Needed to Become a CHRO

As one of the pivotal leaders in an organization, a CHRO needs to be confident in these skills:

  • Strong leadership skills to effectively supervise HR managers and all employees
  • Creative problem-solving skills to create new and effective HR solutions and initiatives
  • Strong research and analytical skills to analyze how current HR strategies are working
  • Effective written and verbal communication skills 
  • Strong sense of talent acquisition within the hiring process
  • Ability to forecast and prevent potential problems

Some of these skills will be learned over time as your experience as an HR professional grows. Others can be acquired through a mentor or continued education along your HR career path. 

Women from HR leadership talking at a table

Typical CHRO Career Path

Now that you have set your sights on senior management, how do you become a CHRO? 

The path isn’t always linear, but here are the typical steps HR professionals take on their CHRO journey:

  • Higher Education: Most HR professionals need a bachelor’s degree in human resources or an adjacent field, regardless of whether they become a CHRO. If you want to get to upper-level management, getting a master’s degree in human resources, business administration, or a similar field can go a long way in helping you prepare for the part of corporate management.
  • Experience: A CHRO is far from an entry-level position and will require a lot of real-world experience to be successful. Most CHROs have at least eight years of experience as an HR manager before stepping into their corporate-level role. Having smaller leadership roles within your HR career will also help you develop along the CHRO path. 
  • Networking: Getting to know senior-level management and having them take on a mentoring role in your life allows you to ask questions and get a closer look at what a CHRO does, and can ultimately be the leg up you need when you apply for leadership roles. 
  • Continued Education: In addition to your college degree(s), continuing your education is essential as a CHRO hopeful. Make sure you stay up to date with current HR practices and your certifications, while also taking classes on how you can become an even better asset to your organization and can help you develop additional skills. 

How To Continue On Your CHRO Journey

If you’re already an HR professional and looking to gain the skills, knowledge, and experience needed to become a CHRO, continuing your education is the perfect way to continue down your career path. 

Continuing your education while still being an effective and well-rested employee can be difficult. HR Education Network (HREN) eliminates that stress by allowing you to take continuing education courses from the comfort of your home at your own pace with pre-recorded lessons. See a full list of our education courses, and continue to progress on your HR career path as you take your first steps to becoming your company’s next CHRO. 

A man on a CHRO journey smiling wearing business attire while holding a folder
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