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Why Human Resources May Be Right for You

By Bisk
Why Human Resources May Be Right for You

When shaping your ideal career path, it can be just as important to know what you don’t want to do for the next 10 or 20 years as it is to know what you want to do. What comes to mind when you think about what you want from your career? 

Perhaps you already know what’s on your “don’t want” list: high pressure environment, tight deadlines, and 90% travel time, for example. Are you comfortable with being at your desk most of the day or do you want a job that allows you to get away from your desk to interact with other professionals? 

If you already have a “don’t want” list, what about your “want” list? You might want a profession that offers a chance to help people, provides a strong opportunity for growth, days with a variety of tasks, a robust job market and possibly even telecommuting opportunities and flexible hours. If any of these things are on your “want” list, considering a career in human resources may be right for you.

Human Resources, or HR, is a profession that consistently ranks high on lists of best careers, based on job growth, earnings potential, creativity, flexibility and other factors. U.S. News & World Report ranked human resources specialist No. 15 on its 2014 list of best business jobs and No. 71 on its ranking of 100 best jobs overall. U.S. News highlights that HR duties can vary day to day from recruiting new employees to handling questions about benefits.

Human Resources Profession: An Overview

Today, business success depends on the careful management of all resources, including human capital. Workers at all levels contribute to their employer’s sustainability and profitability. HR management maximizes those contributions by carefully overseeing recruiting, hiring, training, compensation and benefits.

HR managers often consult with top management on the organization’s direction, employee development and strategic planning. They help their companies remain viable by attracting top talent, recruiting the best candidates for each position and enabling employees to develop their skills and talents for their own benefit and that of the company.

HR managers connect the value of human capital to the company’s bottom line. They are adept at dealing with people from all backgrounds and levels of experience, knowledge and skill. Some of the required attributes to succeed as an HR manager include flexibility, patience, attention to detail, outstanding communication and listening skills, negotiation skills and professional discretion.

5 Benefits of Working In Human Resources

  1. Working with many types of professionals: HR professionals work closely with people at every stage of their careers.
  2. Variety: There is no typical day in HR. You’ll likely be working on a variety of tasks, from staffing a booth at a recruitment fair to leading a training class.
  3. Challenges: HR is an evolving science and art. There are always new strategies, technologies and skills to learn and improve upon.
  4. Focus on the big picture: HR professionals participate in long-range planning, with insider views on how the entire organization works.
  5. Flexibility: HR professionals are needed by businesses of every size, in every industry. You can put your skills and knowledge to work just about anywhere.

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HR Career Paths

Many entry-level HR jobs require a minimum level of education, as well as experience, which can often be obtained through internships, temporary positions or part-time jobs. These introductory positions offer a realistic view of the profession and the company, and may lead to a permanent, full-time job offer as an HR assistant or other entry-level position.

HR assistants often move into professional-level roles, such as recruiting manager, payroll manager, staffing manager, administrator or human resources manager. Most HR professionals choose between two broad paths: generalist or specialist.

  • Generalist – HR generalists often perform a wide variety of tasks. They do recruiting, hiring, training and development, compensation and planning. They often develop personnel policies and ensure that the organization is in compliance with all federal, state and local labor laws.  Job titles held by HR generalists include HR assistant, HR manager and chief HR officer.
  • Specialist – HR specialists typically work in larger organizations. Compared to generalists, they have a higher level of technical skill and knowledge in specialized areas, such as workforce planning, HR development, rewards, employee and labor relations and risk management. Job titles include recruiter, retention specialist, compensation specialist, labor relations manager, safety officer, risk management specialist, benefits analyst and trainer.

Transitioning to HR From Another Field

Professionals frequently come to HR careers from widely diverse professional backgrounds. Some start in administration and then begin to focus on HR tasks. Still other professionals may decide to move into HR, take appropriate courses, earn certifications, and then enter the field.

Academic degrees such as business, sociology and psychology traditionally transition very well to HR. Employers will sometimes hire professionals with business experience who are willing to further their education and human resources training. Those with strong math and science background might find employment in compensation or employee benefits. For example teachers may become HR trainers; law-school graduates can often find positions as labor-relations specialists.

Benefits of a Human Resources Certificate Course

Another way for professionals in another field to move into human resources is through continuing education programs such as certificate courses. 

These also can help those already in human resources advance into positions of more responsibility.

Among other topics, an HR certificate program can teach you about developing compensation and benefits strategies, legal issues, training and creating performance improvement measures as well as recruitment, HR planning and enhancing your leadership skills. 

HR Job Prospects and Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for human resources specialist in May 2013 was $56,600, while the top 10% of earners were paid about $96,500. Job growth for human resources specialists is forecast to increase 7% through 2022.

For HR managers, job opportunities are expected to be strong with a 13% increase in employment through 2022. Company expansion and the increasing complexity of labor laws are expected to contribute to job growth, the BLS said. The median annual salary for human resources managers in May 2013 was $100,800 and the top 10% earned $177,500 annually.

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