HUMAN RESOURCES FAST STATS
A human resources employee helps maintain or grow a business or organization by recruiting and hiring new employees, training them, helping them to get benefits, managing data and information about them in computing systems, and assisting them with complaints or issues or needs regarding the business or organization or other employees.There are several different kinds or levels of human resources (HR) employees: HR managers, HR specialists, HR officers, HR assistants and just plain HR administrators. Each is responsible for different subsets or facets of the responsibilities listed above and therefore have their own human resources job description. We’ll get into some of the differences in the next section.
Here are some soft skills and office skills human resources employees use day to day.
So far we’ve established that human resource jobs center around employees. Considering workers to be the engine that drives a business or organization, HR employees help find other great employees, train them, smooth relations between them and the organization, help them receive benefits and compensation, and maintain relevant data and information about them. We also established that human resources job descriptions vary based on the level or focus of the position. Below are brief descriptions of the most common HR positions and what they typically do.
Human Resources Manager
A human resources manager focuses on helping organizations meet goals by making policies and leading practices that use human resources efficiently with an eye for effective recruitment, retainment, and placement. An HR manager is employee-oriented and creates a culture that balances worker empowerment with high performance.
Human resources specialist
HR specialists specialize in an area of human resources (recruitment, benefits and compensation, training, etc.) and always serve as the liaison between employees and employers, helping both sides communicate their needs and cooperate. They have less overall knowledge functioning and are there specifically to fill a need that other HR employees are spread too thin to do.
Human resources officer
This is a general position that could encompass any HR need an organization has. An HR officer can have a broad range of duties including benefits and compensation, recruitment and advertising, employee relations, training and advancement, employee safety, etc. They can be asked to focus on any one of these or other HR areas when needed.
''...there is a lot more to human resources work than just office work and sitting at a desk...''
Human resources assistant
A human resources assistant does a bit of everything in their capacity as an aid to an HR manager or director. Though the work can involve any area of human resources, it usually involves administrative work like documenting employee information, posting job announcements, data entry, delivering benefits or employment status information to employees, and scheduling events for managers.
Human resources generalist or administrator
A human resources generalist or administrator needs to be capable of handling a bit of everything in the HR field, balance those responsibilities with administrative tasks, and be the point person for employees and managers with HR questions.
What great human resources employees do
1. Great HR employees empower employees
Great human resources employees make colleagues and new hires feel comfortable coming to them and asking for help to learn about their rights as employees, the benefits entitled to them, and the roads to advancement such as training or new placement.
2. Great HR employees create a safe and healthy workplace
Great HR employees make colleagues aware of the safety and health requirements their workplace is meeting, how it continues to do so, and how they may contribute to it. They also encourage and foster healthy relationships between employees by modeling strong interpersonal skills and having an open-door policy for listening to grievances, conducting mediations and explaining policies.
3. Great HR employees identify and help retain talent
Great HR employees are great at identifying the right balance of professionalism and personality in candidates that will help their organization grow or thrive. Furthermore they are great at providing incentives and making talented employees feel welcome once they arrive.
Typical day in human resources
Although the human resources job description varies from position to position, human resource jobs center around a basic set of activities that occur from day to day.
So, a typical day of an HR employee may start at the computer, working with a human resources information system. They might spend some time updating information about employees, information for employee use, or information for administrative tasks. Then they may move on to maintain the HR section on their organization’s website, updating vacancy announcements, writing newsletters, etc.
The day may then turn to professional development and training, where an HR employee identifies new areas of HR policy and arranges to provide training sessions to educate employees about them.
After training there may be a few issues that have popped up between employees that need mediation or addressing. An HR employee may have to sit with some employees to provide an information session about their rights, receive feedback, discipline an employee, or intercede in a conflict between several employees to come to a resolution.
Next their attention may turn to benefits, either helping employees to obtain them or understand, set or form new policies or regulations regarding them. This may then lead them to discuss with inquiring employees issues of compensation such as salary increases or bonuses.
''...great HR employees make new hires feel comfortable asking for help... encourage healthy relationships between employees and have an open-door policy...''
What might be more common for a human resources manager as opposed to a human resources assistant at this point in the day may be to address the organization’s compliance with labor laws and regulations, health and safety laws and regulations, and align organizational policies accordingly. Whereas an HR assistant may round the day off with administrative tasks like data entry, scheduling, or distributing organizational memos via email regarding HR policy and practices.
- Assist employees with HR-related and questions or issues and employment relations matters
- Maintain and update employee files and records in HR database
- Make updated benefits information accessible to all employees on and offline
- Assist in or lead recruitment processes
- Help employees find and attend relevant professional development
- Processing payroll and facilitating paid leave processes
- Facilitating new employee orientation and training
- Process transfers, terminations, promotions, extended leave, etc.
- Develop and maintain systems to analyze and evaluate employee job performance
- Determine relevant wage trends through wage surveys and report results to management
- Conduct surveys and hold one-on-one meetings with employees for feedback about the workplace and train managers to respond to employee concerns
- Lead and administer disciplinary actions and termination proceedings
- Ensure legal compliance with workplace regulations and employee rights, safety and health
Human resources job requirements
Almost all human resource jobs require candidates to hold a bachelor’s degree in human resources or an HR related field such as business administration or finance. The bachelor’s degree requirement applies to both entry level human resources jobs (HR assistant) and mid-level HR positions (HR specialist, administrator or generalist). Human resource manager and other senior-level HR director or coordinator positions typically require a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) in Human Resources Management (HRM) or being a candidate for one.
HR certification from either the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) or the HR Certification Institute (HRCI) is a desirable qualification for any HR position but is typically not required. Those seeking senior-level HR positions like a human resource manager may be required to have or pursue an HR qualification in order to be considered for a position or to stay competitive within one.
Experience required naturally varies between entry level human resources jobs and mid- to senior-level HR positions. Entry level human resources jobs like HR assistants require 1-2 years experience in business administration, preferably in HR. Mid-level HR positions like HR generalists, administrators or specialists require 3-5 years experience specifically in human resource positions. A human resource manager and other senior-level HR positions require 7 years experience of leadership specifically in human resources.
Skills required for human resources positions include:strong organizational skills, excellent written and verbal communication skills,interpersonal and coaching skills, office computing skills including Microsoft Excel/Google Suite/database management, confidentiality and ethical integrity, analysis and evaluation, time management, and mediation skills.
Ideal human resources resume
The ideal human resources resume contains a bachelor’s degree in human resources or an MBA in human resources management and between 2-7 years experience working in HR administration or in an HR leadership position. The ideal human resources resume can also list a human resources certification that fits one’s level of experience and HR focus.
''...working in human resources is about empowering employees and strengthening an organization through its personnel...''
Answering HR interview questions is a great opportunity to fill in experiences not easily listed on a resume or insertable into a cover letter. HR interview questions will assume experience and accomplishments listed on a resume are true and focus on applying those skills in real life situations. So, a good thing to keep in mind when trying to deliver ideal answers to HR interview questions is how to empower employees while strengthening an organization through its personnel.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) separates human resources salary into two positions, manager and specialist, with manager representing senior-level HR positions and specialist representing mid-level positions. BLS puts the 2017 median pay for managers at $110,120 per year and median pay for specialists at $60,350 per year. The median HR assistant salary can be considered to be less than the median human resources salary of a specialist. BLS lacks specific data on HR assistant salary but lists it as on par with financial clerks and information clerks which averaged an annual salary of around $35,000 per year in 2017. Depending on the industry, HR assistant salary can reach as high as around $54,000 per year. BLS reports an average job growth outlook for human resources professions at between 7-9% between 2016-2026.
Is human resources the right job for me?
U.S. News and World Report’s Money section lists HR specialist at #12 on its Best Business Jobs list and #54 on its Best 100 Jobs list. They cite upward mobility as average and the conditions of human resources specialist jobs to have above average stress and below average flexibility. There is understood to be considerably more upward mobility from human resources assistant positions where employees are given latitude to build expertise and experience and to move upward through an organization or onto another with acquired relevant experience. Managerial positions are also quite high-paid and high-status positions that lend well to increases in salary and ease of mobility to other organizations.
It is an office heavy occupation to be sure, but being a human resources employee also affords one the opportunity to interact with many people both within and outside of an organization. It also involves building a healthy, safe and employee-empowered culture within an organization while counseling employees on best methods of improving their professional lives. So there is a lot more to being a human resource employee than just office work, sitting at a desk and staring at a computer monitor. There is opportunity to apply one’s professional principles and ideals to shape an organization and help colleagues as well.
Top human resources skills
Administration - scheduling, filing, data management, following procedures and policies, processing requests and official documents, updating information
Interpersonal skills - forming relationships with employees, recruiting and coaching new hires, mediating disputes, disciplining employees, advising employees on benefits and compensation, creating a safe and healthy work environment for all people, advising management on personnel and wage concerns
Organization - managing many benefits requests, employee evaluations and disputes, changing employment statuses, changing policies and procedures effectively and at the same time
Problem solving - developing appropriate HR policies and procedures to fit organizational goals while also empowering employees, helping employees take full advantage of benefits, helping organization staff to meet productivity goals and culture, consulting with management to determine appropriateness of disciplinary actions or transfers or promotions
Office computing skills - Microsoft Office Suite, Excel and other database software, Google Suite and other presentation software
Communication - confidential emails to individual employees, policy memos and statements, discussing sensitive workplace procedures and policies with individual employees, mediating disputes between employees and management, coaching employees toward professional development
Analysis and evaluation - devising employee evaluation schemes, analyzing employee performance and evaluating progress or target reaching, challenging employees to reach goals based on their position trajectory and on organizational goals
- Human resources director
- Human resources recruiter
- Training manager
- Compensation manager
- Labor relations specialist
- Organizational development specialist
- Retirement plan counselor
- E-Learning coordinator