Are you considering human resource management as a career choice? Wise decision! Not only do HR professionals contribute to business viability and success through the strategic management of human capital, but the profession itself continues to increase its stature as a career choice, pursued by many in today’s ever-changing, competitive marketplace. In fact, in 2007, MONEY Magazine and Salary.com researched hundreds of jobs and ranked Human Resource Manager as number four on its list of the Top Ten Best Jobs in America based on a variety of factors, including job growth in the next decade, earnings potential, creativity and flexibility.
This document strives to give you an overview of the profession, provides pathways for you to consider a career in HR, gives you guidance with regard to deciding to become an HR professional and discusses a very important career booster—pursuing a formal education in human resources. It also gives you an overview of the types of professional positions available so you can make the best career choice for your interests, knowledge, skills and abilities.
Overview of the Profession
Human resource management (HRM) is a term used to describe a set of tasks aimed at effectively managing an organization’s employees, commonly known as its human resources or human capital. HRM professionals oversee the business of managing people in an organization which includes compensation, benefits, training and development, staffing, strategic HR management and other functions. HR practitioners structure staffing programs to recruit and retain the best employees by making the company competitive in terms of its attractiveness to potential candidates, so that they will choose to accept a position with and remain working for an employer. In today’s competitive environment, human capital management is critically important to remain viable in the global marketplace. As a result, HR plays a pivotal role in the world—because people are truly the only thing that differentiates one business from another. Organizations may replicate processes, materials and structures of other successful organizations, but only the talent of an organization makes it unique and distinguishes it from all its competitors.
Pathways to a Career in HR
HR is a key component of any organization’s senior management team. Though the human resources department is widely known for conducting interviews, explaining company benefits, managing employee relations, providing career development advice and helping hiring managers with performance and productivity expectations, the profession has a much larger role in business today. HR professionals have evolved from the behind-the-scenes administrative role of the 20th century to active involvement in shaping corporate policy. Senior management recognizes the significant contributions of HR to their organization’s bottom line and overall success. This shift continues in the profession. To a more significant extent than ever before, many HR roles are consequently focused equally on contributing strategically and functionally to manage the organization’s talent. This booklet highlights the various pathways you may choose in order to pursue the career in HR that best meets your needs. It is also important to note that HR professionals often progress to higher levels in an organization—and a career in HR can lead to a position as CEO.
HR Professionals’ Key Duties and Challenges
Numerous varied challenges confront HR professionals, who must be capable of handling situations that arise daily in the workplace. If you choose HR as your profession, patience and flexibility will be necessary as you interact with people of widely differing levels of experience, intelligence, emotional intelligence, education, knowledge, skills and abilities. In the early stages of your career, you also will be involved in compliance-related work that demands close attention to detail, a strong knowledge of business and well-developed communication skills. From the strategic viewpoint, when setting policies and practices, you will be the “voice of management” to the employees. You will also be called upon to act as an advocate for employees to management, to ensure their viewpoint is represented. As a supporter of both the business and the people perspectives, diplomacy is a must. Sound judgment, good listening skills and tact are essential—as are influencing skills, the ability to link people strategies with business strategies, and the ability to prove the value that human capital adds to the organization’s bottom line.