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CIPD Profession Map

Many HR professionals find themselves operating by principles deemed ‘best practice’ without questioning whether they’re the best principles for their business, which can lead to poor decision-making.

To combat this the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) have updated their Profession Map to highlight how values-based decision making can create more of an impact than generic best practice — helping to create positive change in workplaces worldwide.


What is the CIPD Profession Map?

The CIPD Profession Map is an interactive set of standards to guide those who work in human resources to always be developing and improving the world of work. The purpose of the Profession Map is to help instil a shared professional identity across the industry, with all who work in HR applying the same set of standards and values.

The map won’t tell you what to do — instead, it will guide you through a number of professional values that can lead to better decisions in any situation. Each of these values helps to guide individuals, groups and organisations as a whole towards successfully handling whatever the future has in store. 


Learn more about the CIPD Profession Map.


Professional values

A sense of shared purpose is essential for ensuring the HR industry maintains a collective identity, along with industry standards to help guide all in the profession. This framework of shared values allows Human Resources to build the trust that it needs to create and develop positive change in the workplace.

The CIPD Profession Map breaks down the professional values of the industry into the following three categories: principles-led, evidence-based and outcome-driven.

1. Principles-led

All of our professional decisions should be influenced by a set of clear principles and beliefs, especially during times of significant change. 

There are three key principles, which are intended to define good decision making, regardless of context:

1. Work matters

  • Work should be used as a force for good, for organisations and employees as well as the communities and societies they make up.
  • All good work should have a purpose, helping people use their talents and skills effectively and to find personal meaning in their work.
  • Work should always be safe and inclusive, recognising contributions in a fair manner.
  • Good work exists to benefit both organisations and individuals, balancing economic sustainability with social accountability.

2. People matter

  • People are the foundations of business. They are all unique and worth understanding, caring for and investing in.
  • People should always have access to their HR professional and the opportunity to work. With support, development and the resources to be effective, individuals have a personal responsibility for their work.
  • People should be able to voice their thoughts on matters that directly affect them and they always deserve to be treated fairly

3. Professionalism matters

  • We’re all ambassadors for the people profession, acting with integrity and striving for better working lives in everything we do.
  • We’re committed to continual development and improvement, ensuring we always make values-based decisions.
  • We use our expertise in people, work and change to understand how a business creates value to balance the risks and opportunities.
  • We understand the implications of our actions, for the good of wider society.

2. Evidence-based

Although the CIPD Profession Map will never directly tell you what to do, it will show you how evidence-based decision making can positively inform your professional judgement. You’ll quickly learn that your opinion carries more weight when backed up with strong evidence from a diverse range of sources. 

When using evidence to support your professional opinion, it should be more than just numbers. It should combine:

  • Behavioural science and academic research — With an understanding of human psychology, we have a better knowledge of the science behind how people make decisions. Thanks to independent surveys, reviews and benchmarks, we can better understand our own organisation.
  • Organisational data — People analytics enables us to better get to know our workforce, giving us insights into what skills gaps we have, our areas of unique expertise, employee engagement and much more. This allows organisations to invest strategically in their workforce and opens up more exciting opportunities for employees.
  • Practitioner expertise — Practitioner experience lends itself to our professional judgement and is crucial for applying evidence to practice. It forms the basis of the skills we need to develop effective solutions from a range of insights. 

3. Outcomes-driven

The work we do must be driven by a clear understanding of outcomes — both the value of the outcomes we’re striving to achieve and the required risk for undertaking it. Our outcomes should always be centred around our wider purpose of better work and working lives. 

  • Our impact on work — We improve the collective well-being, productivity and success of all; including organisations as a whole, the people within them and the communities they belong to.
  • Our impact on people — We build inclusive organisations that are dedicated to treating people fairly, ensure diverse voices are heard and that skills are improved in the wider workforce.
  • Our impact on professionalism — Our work leads to better decision making on important matters that affect people, work and change. We build strength, integrity and credibility in the people profession.
  • Our impact as individuals — The level of impact you can make as an individual will vary on what stage you are at in your career. However, we can all strive towards positive outcomes for people as well as a business — striking the balance between business outcomes and people outcomes. 

Core Knowledge

With the new CIPD Profession Map, those in the industry are provided with the strongest foundation for effective decision making. 

The map outlines six core areas of knowledge to help drive change, create value and positively impact the world of work. Developed with the latest research and insights, these areas are relevant to all HR and people professionals and set out everything you need to be an effective practitioner — whatever your role or specialism.

1. People practice — Everything that covers the employee lifecycle and how each of these practices impacts one another and interrelates.

2. Culture and behaviour — This encompasses behavioural science, which can provide a rich source of insight for HR professionals on how practices can impact the people and culture of an organisation.

3. Business acumen — This section features practical business knowledge for HR professionals, including financial literacy, business planning and supplier management.

4. Analytics and creating value — With this area, you’ll learn the role that data can play in informing smarter business decisions and uncovering the true value of people in organisations.

5. Digital working — This area is all about better understanding the role that technology plays in the workplace, along with how it can improve productivity and collaboration for employees.

Core behaviours

The HR industry is constantly striving to improve the working lives of organisations and employees, even in new and challenging situations. Despite this, there are always certain ways of thinking and acting that need to remain consistent and universal.

This is where the core behaviours come into play — outlining what it takes to be an effective HR professional in an uncertain world of work. The core behaviours have been outlined through academic research and feedback from industry professionals. They detail the following subjects:

  • Ethical practice
  • Professional courage and influence
  • Valuing people
  • Working inclusively 
  • Commercial drive
  • Passion for learning
  • Insights focussed
  • Situational decision making

Specialist knowledge

The HR industry has always provided a wide spectrum of opportunities for professionals to explore. As such, the CIPD Profession Map features a number of specialist areas to show you how to apply your specialisms to create a positive impact, whatever level you’re at. Here you can broaden your development in a chosen area of expertise and explore future career paths.

The specialist knowledge areas include information about:

  • Employee experience
  • Employee relations
  • Diversity and inclusion
  • Learning and development
  • Organisation development and design
  • People analytics
  • Resourcing
  • Reward
  • Talent management 

Why use the CIPD Map?

The world of work is always changing, which is why the CIPD map needed to change with it. With new priorities, technology and ways of working, the role of HR has changed forever.

By using the CIPD Profession Map, Organisations, HR professionals and, most importantly, the employees themselves will benefit from shifting focus to value-based decisions. The true value of each individual will be made apparent, opening up opportunities that would not have existed before utilising the map. Most importantly, however, the new CIPD map can fill you with confidence that you, as an HR professional, and your company are doing everything possible to ensure the business is maintaining the highest global industry standards.


Visit CIPD to learn more about the Profession Map and see how it can revolutionise your workplace. 

CIPD Level 3

CIPD Level 3 Foundation Certificate in People Practice

Our CIPD Level 3 course is ideal for you if you are:

  • New to the People Profession
  • An existing HR Administrator/Officer looking to progress
  • Looking for expert advice along the way
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CIPD Level 5 Associate Diploma in People Management

Our CIPD Level 5 course is ideal for you if you are:

  • An aspiring or existing HR Manager/Business Partner
  • Looking to further your knowledge of the People Profession
  • Looking for the next step in your career
View Course Details
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CIPD Level 7

CIPD Level 7 Advanced Diploma in Strategic People Management

Our CIPD Level 7 course is ideal if you are:

  • Involved in implementing HR strategies and policies
  • Currently in, or looking to progress to, a senior HR role
  • Looking to gain Chartered membership of the CIPD
View Course Details

CIPD Level 3 Foundation Certificate in People Practice

This programme is right for you if you’re:

  • New to Learning & Development
  • An administrator/officer looking to build a promising career in L&D
  • Looking for expert help and advice along the way
View Course Details
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CIPD Level 5

CIPD Level 5 Associate Diploma in Organisational Learning & Development

This programme is right for you if you’re:

  • An aspiring or existing L&D Manager/Business Partner
  • Looking to further your knowledge of L&D
  • Looking for the next step in your career
View Course Details

CIPD Level 7 Advanced Diploma in Strategic Learning & Development

This programme is right for you if you’re:

  • Involved in implementing L&D strategies and policies
  • Currently in, or looking to progress to, a senior L&D role
  • Looking to gain Chartered membership of the CIPD
View Course Details
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Frequently Asked Questions

The CIPD Profession Map sets the global standards for people professionals, providing guidelines for the activities, knowledge and behaviours needed for success. This helps to create a shared professional identity across the industry.

The map can be used to identify capabilities and skills to help with professional development and planning your career path, or that of your team. The Profession Map standards can be used to set a benchmark at the individual, team, and organisational level helping to improve business performance.

A CIPD qualification is a certificate or diploma in people practice, people management or learning and development awarded by the governing body CIPD. CIPD qualifications are the easiest route to becoming a member of the CIPD and developing your credibility within the HR and L&D professions.

To become CIPD qualified, you need to successfully gain a CIPD qualification at either Foundation, Associate, or Advanced level. 

You can do this by enrolling on and completing a CIPD qualification with an accredited CIPD provider such as DPG. You can study CIPD fully online, in a classroom, or a mix of both (known as blended learning). 

CIPD qualifications are highly valued by employers, as it gives them real confidence that they are recruiting qualified, highly capable talent. This is evident from the number of job adverts that state that applicants MUST have a CIPD qualification or be working towards one.

We give you a flexible amount of time to complete your course, so this will vary for each person.

On average, the CIPD Level 3 Foundation Certificate takes around 7 to 9 months to complete.

The CIPD Level 5 Associate Diploma generally takes around 12 to 15 months to complete.

The CIPD Level 7 Advanced Diploma usually takes between 18 to 24 months to complete.

At DPG, we’re proud to share that of the 25,000 individuals to complete an HR, L&D or management course with us, 96% said they’d choose to use our services again.

We’ve been helping people develop their skills for 30 years. Our facilitators are specialists in their respective fields, giving you access to top professionals in HR and L&D. We provide unlimited support across all of our CIPD courses and are available for online support 24/7.