Careers in HR and Personnel - A Resume Center Guide

Overview

A career in the field of Human Resources (HR) or Personnel Management is both diverse and challenging, with the option of undertaking a generalist role covering all aspects of the field or specializing in one of the many different functions.  Some examples of specialist HR roles include Recruitment & Selection, Training & Development, Employee Relations and Compensation & Benefits. 

Whichever discipline of HR you choose to work in, there are a number of personality traits and skills which are essential for the role, the most important of which is the ability to interact and empathize with people from all social and cultural backgrounds.  Many people come to their HR or personnel representative with sensitive issues to discuss and you must be able to put them at ease and reassure them that the discussion will be treated with the utmost confidence and discretion.  Sometimes you will be required to deal with disciplinary and grievance matters, handle redundancies or dismiss people.  These situations can be highly stressful for all involved so you must be able to remain calm when under pressure.  Knowledge of employment legislation is paramount as is the ability to remain up to date with any relevant changes or developments.

Ultimately, an HR or Personnel Manager is responsible to the company and their aim is to ensure that all personnel policies are tailored towards the achievement of overall business goals and objectives.  This can include recruiting staff in accordance with specific business requirements and delivering training that is targeted towards achieving enhanced performance standards and productivity.  In general, the role is to ensure that the most suitable members of staff, with the appropriate skills mix, are employed and retained by the company.

Entry requirements

Entry into the industry is fiercely competitive and it is very rare for school leavers to obtain employment in HR except at an administrative or junior/trainee level.  An increasing number of organizations require degree or HND qualifications, experience in business or administrative roles within the appropriate industry sector or professional qualifications from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).  Degree subjects most relevant to the industry include Human Resources Management, Business Management, Law and Business with Languages.  The CIPD offers various certificated qualifications including Personnel Practice (CPP), which offers a good grounding in all HR disciplines, and more specialized qualifications in Training Practice (CTP), Recruitment & Selection (CRS) and Employment Law & Practice (CELAP).  There is also a post-graduate level qualification, the Professional Development Scheme (PDS), which is often required for entry into middle or senior management positions.  After many years’ experience at management level, it is possible to apply for chartered membership of the CIPD which will further enhance your skills, knowledge and promotional potential.

Progression opportunities

HR departments are found in nearly all organizations in the public and private sectors as well as in charitable organizations which employ both volunteers and paid staff.  As a result, it is possible to gain an insight into a wide range of industry sectors through a career in HR.  It is a rewarding role that enables you to make a direct contribution to the fulfilment of business objectives and the achievement of a positive working environment for members of staff and managers alike.

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