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Skills for Human Resources Professionals

By: Ronda Payne

Published On: October 9, 2018

Human Resources (HR) can be the perfect career for many individuals, but without experience or education to explore the duties involved in the field, it can be impossible to know what human resources jobs entail and to determine if it’s the right fit. Entry level jobs in HR may be human resources assistant, human resources officer or human resources specialist, but that doesn’t tell you what these roles do every day. More importantly, the title doesn’t tell you if you’ll like the job or be good at it.

Before spending money on education, it’s a good idea to check out job descriptions for the human resources management entry level roles, like HR assistant or coordinator as well as taking a look at HR education program course descriptions to see if you like the sounds of the occupation from a learning perspective. That said, there is difficulty is that HR is quite a diverse field. Human Resources management job descriptions can vary greatly depending upon the size and scope of a company.

Those in an assistant or other entry-level job will likely work as more of a generalist and therefore get exposure to many of the duties in the HR. This can include things like staff recruitment, managing payroll, implementing benefits, organizing training, navigating interpersonal conflict, helping with career and education plans, understanding employment law and more. Exploring the specifics of these entry-level roles are the ideal way to learn about what HR does, to see if it’s the right field for you and decide if you’d like to specialize in a particular area of the occupation.

Entry level HR Job Descriptions

Looking at websites like Indeed or LinkedIn can reveal a lot about HR job descriptions and how these professionals spend their day.

A quick review of a few jobs on for HR coordinator reveals the following responsibilities: conduct new hire orientation, coordinate apprenticeship program, administer recognition awards program, support training program, assist with administration of employee benefits, creation and implementation of employee surveys, coordinate drug screening, create and maintain personnel files, support processing of payroll records, manage inter-office correspondence, manage uniform program and much more.

A review of HR assistant job descriptions on the same site had many of the same responsibilities and also added: make sure all health and safety regulations are followed, help organize employee performance reviews, support HR team members as needed, administer timekeeping system, complete expense reports and verify records, and much more.

Obviously, these are incredibly diverse roles that will expose you to all that HR can be. You’ll soon learn whether being an HR generalist or specializing in a certain field for a large company or an HR firm, that contracts out to other companies, is the right direction for your career. Plus, by reviewing job descriptions, you’ll find that many of these roles require a diploma and/or certificate or some other form of education among the candidate requirements.

HR Education Programs

Looking at the variety of HR education programs can be somewhat daunting. How do you choose which school is right for you and your future? You might start by chatting with a faculty member at two or three of the schools you feel offer the best courses within the programs offered. Most professors, teachers and administrators in the HR programs are happy to talk to prospective students to help them get a feel for the program.

Look to programs that offer the ability to apply your education towards accreditation with the Chartered Professionals in Human Resources of British Columbia and Yukon (CPHR BC & YK). While being a member of this organization isn’t often mandatory for job applicants, membership does prove your dedication to the field and an interest in constant improvement.

Many schools provide the ability to take courses in-person or online or through a combination of both. This may be important to you if you need flexibility. You’ll also want to be sure the program covers an overview of HR with an understanding of how HR contributes to a successful organization, employee and labour relations, rewards programs, recruitment practices and training and development.

Soft Skills Needed in HR

Finally, in addition to liking the job description and tasks you’re likely to perform as well as understanding the study areas in an HR education program, there’s one more thing to check off the list before deciding HR is your new career: the soft skills. There are some things that can’t be taught, that people either have or don’t have (though you can work to improve them). These soft skills are essential to your success in the field and therefore can make or break a career – it’s better to refer to them as inter-personal skills rather than soft skills with so much riding on them.

Communication skills top the list for most HR Recruiters and companies looking for HR professionals. Without the ability to communicate effectively, you aren’t likely to have much success in the field.
Organization and time management is also essential due to the diversity in the world of HR. Shifting from one task to another while dealing with communication issues and a number of large and small tasks requires focus, awareness of time and the ability to wear all the hats the job requires.
Problem-solving is also in the top three of skills needed in the HR management field. This is because people are individuals thus the approaches needed in hiring them, managing them and motivating them also need to be individual. HR often makes use of a number of templates (such as interview questions, rewards programs, etc.) but there will always be a need to grab onto new solutions on the fly in order to keep people satisfied and ensure the organization moves forward.
Conflict management and confidentiality. If you’re known among your friends as the person to avoid when it comes to secrets, you’ll want to change that before considering a job in HR. The job demands a focus on other people’s problems, sometimes managing very difficult situations filled with conflict and requires discretion.

If you’re considering HR as your future career, review what your next job may look like. Start by checking out job descriptions for entry-level HR roles, then take a look at possible education programs and finally, ensure your soft skills (or interpersonal skills) measure up to what’s needed and will help contribute towards your future success.


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