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Human Resources Career Guide

A career in human resources (HR) is a fast-paced and engaging career, that places its emphasis on dealing with humans (hence the name!) in the workplace.

Most HR professionals achieve a bachelors degree before entering field. However, it is possible to enter at an entry-level with no university education.

As long as businesses continue to form and grow, the demand for good HR professionals is set to increase, meaning that there are jobs available in a wide range of locations.

Human Resources isn't a thing we do, it's the thing that runs our business

Steve Wynne

Human Resources Career Ratings

Income

Career
Growth

Personal Growth

Contribution

Influence

Job Profiles

Real-Life Human Resources Job Profiles

Below is a list of links to anonymous job profiles of REAL PEOPLE who have filled out our survey and offered to share their insights with our users about their job in the Human Resources field.
IDJob TitleGenderAgeEarningsCity & StateDate
33888RecruiterFemale41 $25,000Benson, AZ01/01/2010
33524Office ManagerFemale52 $39,000Port Orange, FL01/01/2010
33476Financial Advisor RecruiterFemale29 $75,000Spotsylvania, VA01/01/2010
33462Director Of Human ResourcesFemale41 $54,000bradenton, FL01/01/2010
33443Human Resources, Benefits And Payroll (In A Corp Setting I Would Be A HR Generalist)Female35 $42,000Leavenworth, KS01/01/2010

Overview

What does someone in Human Resources actually do?

Like all careers, the typical responsibilities of someone in human resources (HR) varies depending on the organization they are employed for, the size of that organization and their superiority.

Generally speaking, those who work in human resources are responsible for handling matters such as recruitment, payroll, employment policies and benefits. Their main duties and responsibilities typically include:

  • Interviewing potential applicants. This process includes making decisions about their work experience, education and skills. You will also need to contact references and perform background checks on potential applicants in order to make a decision on their suitability.
  • Write job descriptions for potential roles that match what the organization is looking for
  • Process all sorts of different paperwork, such as employment contracts, disciplinary hearing outcomes, employee complaints or annual leave
  • Resolve any workplace issues between management and employees
  • Implement training programs and monitor their effectiveness

Why they are needed

Whether the business is big or small, every organization can benefit greatly from having a human resources department. Firstly, they help with employee productivity and performance by ensuring that a positive workplace culture in implemented, that all complaints and disputes are fairly resolved and  by ensuring equality in the workplace. In return, this decreases employee turnover rates and promotes stronger relationships between employees, which promotes positive organizational outcomes.

HR personnel are also crucial to businesses as they can increase participation in training and development programs and ensure the hiring of the best candidates.

The pros and cons of a career in Human Resources

Pros:

  • Working in HR means that you spend a lot of your day interacting with many people, making it a fantastic job for those who like to work and deal with lots of different people
  • A career in HR offers a diverse career path as there are lots of different roles and opportunities available, from recruitment to employee relations to company policies. You also have the opportunity to explore many variations in the workplace and get to understand different diverse workplace cultures
  • A career in HR is a rewarding career as you will spend most of your days making people happier at work and helping them to find motivation to remain positive and productive. In return, these actions have a direct impact on the organizations outcomes
  • There are opportunities to work both full time and part time in HR. There is also the opportunity to work for small, medium or large sized businesses in a huge range of industries (almost every industry imaginable will have the need for a HR department)
  • HR is a relatively easy career to get into as there are entry-level positions that do not require degree level education
  • Most careers in HR have the opportunity to be very well-paid with experience

Cons:

  • HR can be very challenging as you will often have to handle employee disputes and you will sometimes have to work closely with problematic employees. You may also have to support employees with mental illnesses, such as depression or anxiety, which can be emotionally draining
  • There is a lot of pressure on HR personnel, which sometimes makes it a very stressful career. This pressure is especially high when working towards deadlines or during busy periods of employment, training or holiday planning
  • Due to a career in HR being an attractive career to many, it is getting more and more competitive, with more people than ever applying for these jobs

Employability

Job market

The Bureau of Labour Statistics has predicted a 7% increase in employment in HR careers from 2018 to 2028, which is faster than average.

The employment growth depends largely on the performance and the growth of individual companies, as both new and growing companies will need human resource personnel.

Career paths

The path to a career in HR is diverse as there are lots of ways to enter this career. The most common route it to achieve a bachelor’s degree in human resources, business, psychology, or another related field (e.g., social science or teaching). After this, it can increase career prospects, opportunities and earning potential to achieve a master’s degree in human resources, business administration (MBA) or organizational psychology. Many companies will also look for relevant work experience in roles such as customer service or recruitment.

However, there are some entry-level HR positions (such as HR admin or coordinating) that do not require a university education. The trade off for an accessible career is typically a lower salary and slower progression, but it is worth considering if university is not something you want to do.

Example Job Titles for Human Resources

Below is a list of common job titles in the Human Resources field. Click the links below for more information about these job titles, or view the next section for actual real-life job profiles.

Benefits & Conditions

Income and benefits

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for a HR manager in the States is $116,720 per annum. The top 10% earn over $205,720 and the lowest 10% will earn less than $68,300 per year.

Autonomy and flexibility

Like many careers, autonomy and flexibility increases with the more experience and knowledge you have. Entry level positions will probably require you to be managed by someone and therefore will have less flexibility and autonomy. However, there are many opportunities for progression to senior roles in this career (such as HR manger or HR partner), meaning that autonomy and flexibility can be very high.

Locations and commute

In theory, wherever there are businesses, there is a need for HR professionals, meaning jobs are available in many locations.

As always, there is likely to be more opportunities in bigger cities, where businesses are bigger and often more results driven. However, the trade off for more opportunities is that there is also more competition in large cities. Smaller and local business will most likely have a HR department, so you should be able to find work near where you live that requires only a short commute.

Work environment

There is generally fairly good job security for HR personnel as you will most likely be working as an employee on a contract. There are opportunities to become self-employed, which can offer more money, but the trade off is lesser job security.

HR professionals tend to have excellent working conditions as they will work in offices. They typically work in small teams, where their co-workers are friendly, non-competitive and supportive.

Career Satisfaction

Common Matching Personality Types

Which personalities tend to succeed and thrive in Human Resources careers? Based on our research, there is a relatively strong positive correlation between the following personality types and Human Resources career satisfaction. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t many exceptions, of course, but if you fit into one of the following personality types then we suggest you give strong consideration to a career in Human Resources.

16 Types (Myers-Briggs)

  • None

Big Five (OCEAN)

  • None

DiSC

  • None

Enneagram

  • None

Holland Codes (RIASEC)

  • None

Personality types

The exact personality type of those who have successful careers in HR is not greatly explored. However, one study found that compared to non-managers, HR managers scored higher on visionary and assertiveness. As a whole, the same study also found that HR managers scored higher on openness, emotional resilience, agreeableness and extraversion then those in other occupations that were tested.

Accomplishment and mastery

HR teams are often results oriented and promote independent learning, meaning that all members of the team are encouraged to use their strongest abilities to solve problems and work efficiently. Due to this, a career in HR often offers an excellent sense of accomplishment.

What is more is that because hard work and effort pays off and allows a lot of progression, there is a strong sense of mastery once you achieve the knowledge and skills required.

Meaning and contribution

There is a great sense of meaning and contribution in a HR career as your work contributes to the effective and productive running of organizations. You will also make individuals happier at work, which is incredibly meaningful.

Life fit

There are a lot of full time and part time opportunities in HR, meaning that it can offer a fit to the lives of most people.

Who will thrive?

You will thrive in a HR career if you are someone who enjoys working in fast-paced environments, where you get to interact with new people and solve new problems every day.

If you are self-motivated, results driven and have a genuine passion for a career involves working closely with others to improve organizational outcomes, then we think you’ll thrive in a HR career.

Who will struggle?

If you prefer to work with data and numbers, or don’t like social interaction, then you may struggle. Those who cannot see the bigger picture or struggle to make decisions may also struggle in a HR career.

Requirements

Skills and talents

  • Active listening skills are essential as HR professionals have to give their full attention to what other employees are saying so that they can figure out the best solution to help them
  • Problem solving skills are essential as HR professionals must identify complex problems and evaluate them to find effective solutions
  • Teamwork and collaboration skills are crucial as HR professionals spend their time working collaboratively with other to make the workplace the best place possible
  • Oral and written communication skills are needed to communicate clearly with others. HR professionals need to communicate things such as interview outcomes, disciplinary actions, acceptance or rejection letters, feedback and training ideas.
  • Technological skills will also be useful as a HR professional as you will have to use document management software, human resources software, presentation software and spreadsheet software

Education

There is no set path to becoming a HR professional.  However, most HR professionals have a bachelor’s degree in either human resources, business, psychology, or another related field. After this, it can increase career prospects and opportunities to achieve a master’s degree in human resources, business administration (MBA) or organizational psychology.

However, degree level education is not always necessary and there are some entry-level positions that take school leavers.

Certificates

Certification is not strictly required to become a HR professional. However, there are benefits from obtaining professional credentials, such as those offered by the HR Certification Institute (HRCI) and Society for Resource Management (SHRM).

How to Become

Summary

A career in HR is a fast-paced and engaging career, that places its emphasis on dealing with humans (hence the name) in the workplace.

As long as businesses continue to form and grow, the demand for good HR professionals is set to increase, meaning that there are jobs available in a wide range of locations.

Immediate action

Like many careers, to get your foot in the door, it is always advisable to seek an internships or relevant work experience in things such as human resources administration, customer service roles, sales or recruitment.

Education and learning

Most HR professionals have a bachelor’s degree, and some have achieved a master’s degree. However, although very helpful for career progression, it is not a necessity and entry level positions are available that require no university education.

Skill development

To develop the skills needed to become a successful HR professional, you should consider getting relevant work experience that improves your communication, teamwork, technological, problem solving and listening skills.

FAQs

Ask a Question

Have a question about Human Resources careers? If so, our mentors would love to help! Just click on a mentor’s profile below and then fill out the “Ask a Question” form on that page. Your question will then be emailed to the mentor, who can then email you a reply.

IDJob TitleGenderAgeEarningsCity & StateDate
33888RecruiterFemale41 $25,000Benson, AZ01/01/2010
33524Office ManagerFemale52 $39,000Port Orange, FL01/01/2010
33476Financial Advisor RecruiterFemale29 $75,000Spotsylvania, VA01/01/2010
33462Director Of Human ResourcesFemale41 $54,000bradenton, FL01/01/2010
33443Human Resources, Benefits And Payroll (In A Corp Setting I Would Be A HR Generalist)Female35 $42,000Leavenworth, KS01/01/2010

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