The HR (Human Resources) industry has undergone a significant transformation and long gone are the days when it was thought to play little more than an administrative function within a business. A career in HR brings with it multiple opportunities for variety and career progression.
With organisations becoming increasingly aware of the need to attract and retain the best people for their workforce, along with the somewhat complex nature of employee welfare and employment law, employers are constantly seeking skilled additions to their HR team.
They are recruited to deal with all the functions of a business that relate to its employees, explaining why it might often be known as the Personnel department. Whist here are several specialist roles in HR, including employer branding, HR business partner, and change management, most positions will require you to get involved in multiple functions such as recruitment and selection, training and development, employee relations, contracts of employment, complaints and grievances, employee rights, appraisals, and health and safety.
Some of the major reasons why people choose a career in HR is the opportunity to influence innumerable aspects of the organisation, to assist in the development of its employees, and to play a part in influencing strategic business decisions. A business is only as good as its employees, and an organisation's employees are only as good as their HR team.
At one end of the scale are HR Assistants and at the other sites the HR Director, with a number of varying roles in between. Here are a few examples of jobs from across the HR spectrum:
- HR Assistant or HR Administrator - an entry level position acting as the first point of contact for all HR-related queries and handling all personnel-related paperwork and documentation, such as employment contracts
- HR Officer - responsibilities include recruitment, payroll, training, induction,
sickness and absence tracking, disciplinary and grievance procedures, redundancy settlements, equal opportunities and establishing staff support systems.
- Recruitment Coordinator - arranging the advertisement of new vacancies, analysing applications and shortlisting candidates, arranging job interviews, and managing any testing procedures involved in the recruitment process.
- Training Officer - identifies the training requirements among employees within the organisation and designs and implements appropriate training programmes for individuals or groups.
- HR Manager - a strategic role involving a range of policies, processes and practices relating to the overall business needs of the organisation. Involved with overseeing others in the HR team and the delivery of their responsibilities in addition to employee welfare, salary reviews, and employment law.
- HR Director -
managing and controlling departmental expenditure within agreed budgets as well as
maintaining awareness of contemporary HR development theory and methods and provide suitable implementation within the organisation.
Normally the HR team will be office based, working a regular 40 hour week, although during the key graduate recruitment intake or during a time of internal redundancies, there may often be periods of extended hours.
So back to the original question of why you might want to work in HR, the motivation is generally one of people. Many roles ask for candidates who are 'good with people' but there is no function where this is more important than in HR. You need to genuinely care about the well-being and development of your employers employees, which often results in close working relationships with people from across the business.
The IT team, sales division and the finance department may keep themselves to themselves; it's your job as an HR professional to make them function as a cohesive unit.
Wondering what to do now? Check out our expert career advice, find out more about the HR industry or search for the latest HR jobs.