For people who enjoy interacting with others, a career in human resources could prove rewarding. Companies in all sorts of industries hire HR professionals to handle matters related to employee well-being and productivity. In fact, despite the economic problems stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, reports show the HR job outlook remaining robust.
Duties of the HR Department
HR employees typically get hired as either generalists or specialists. Generalists possess knowledge about many different aspects of human resources and take on a range of responsibilities. Specialists focus on a certain aspect of HR. Small businesses and ones trying to limit their HR budget often find hiring generalists the most cost-effective route. Larger companies may seek specialists in order to gain expertise about a specific concern.
Some of the primary responsibilities under the HR umbrella include:
- Talent acquisition
Oftentimes, the first contact a prospective employee has with a company is interacting with someone from HR. Human resources personnel recruit talent, evaluate resumes, conduct interviews, and administer skills tests. They work with managers to make hiring decisions and act as the go-between to communicate information to job candidates.
- Learning and development
Effective onboarding helps new hires understand their position and the company’s goals. But learning does not stop there. As organizations grow, their workers need to acquire new skills. HR collaborates with management to figure out what staff members need to know and the best means to teach it.
- Compensation and benefits
Everybody wants a paycheck that’s correct and on time! HR runs payroll, handles employee reimbursement, and keeps track of vacation/sick days. HR department leaders are involved in activities such as developing pay structure and evaluating insurance and retirement plans.
- Employee relations
HR personnel act as a bridge between the organization and its staff. They know the content of the company’s employee handbook and answer questions workers may have about it. They also work to create a positive environment where people can perform their best. This may involve everything from publicizing mental health initiatives to examining diversity and fairness to investigating claims of harassment.
- Legal compliance
Organizations must meet a variety of governmental and industry standards. The HR department handles the enforcement and paperwork for many such rules, especially as they relate to workers. HR personnel perform actions such as verifying the employment eligibility of new hires, submitting tax information, and ensuring mandated certifications remain current.
Getting an HR degree
Individuals interested in pursuing a career in human resources frequently obtain a bachelor’s degree in human resources management or in business with a human resources concentration. While specific courses differ by academic institution, common classes encountered include:
- Organizational behavior
- Human resource management
- Talent management
- Global human resources
- Compensation and reward systems
- Leadership skills
- Training and development
For higher-level roles that entail greater responsibility and decision-making, employers often seek candidates possessing a master’s degree in human resources. Some people turn to online graduate programs in human resources management in order to continue working and fulfilling familial obligations while pursuing their advanced studies.
Employers value hands-on experience, so consider holding an internship or building up your work history. Also, investigate the merit of HR certifications. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the HR Certification Institute (HRCI) both offer a range of respected certifications from entry-level to advanced that can help you stand out among applicants.