How to Become an HR Professional
Human resources specialists are a crucial component of a company or organization’s success. As an HR specialist, you will be responsible for recruiting and placing workers, handling employee relations, and overseeing payroll, training, and more. By attaining a college education, gaining human resources experience, and staying current on HR trends, you can make your contribution to this fast-growing, rewarding field.
Pursuing HR Degrees and Certificates
Earn an associate's degree to qualify for entry-level positions.An associate's degree in human resources (HR) is usually the minimum level of education required for entry-level HR jobs. Although it is possible to get a human resources position without any college education, a degree is increasingly important in the hiring process.
- Associate degree holders are usually hired as human resources generalists. HR assistants, recruiters, payroll assistants, and clerks are some of the most common jobs for graduates that possess an associate degree.
- If you have an associate degree and you want to advance in the HR field, consider continuing your education. Advanced degrees, combined with HR experience, will help you get more specialized HR jobs.
- If you are already working in the HR field, ask your employer if they offer any incentives for you to continue your education. Even if they don’t, many universities offer night, weekend, or online classes so you can go to school while also working.
Attain a bachelor’s degree to fill more specialized roles.Graduates with a bachelor’s degree are often hired as office managers, human resources officers, training and development officers, and other human resources specialists.
- As an HR major, you will study a range of topics, such as ethics, employment law, communications, office technology.
- Use your elective options to study things that will advance your career. For instance, you'll have to manage harassment cases in the office. You can deepen your understanding of hostile workplace dynamics by taking entry-level courses in gender studies, women's studies, or the history of labor.
- A major in human resources is ideal, but graduates who majored in other fields are frequently hired to fill these positions. This is especially true if you have human resources work experience or a degree in a related field such as business, marketing, or economics.
Get a master’s degree in human resources to qualify for leadership positions.A master’s degree in human resources will qualify you for jobs such as program designer, learning officer, and training facilitator. If your goal is to become a human resources manager, a master’s degree in human resources will qualify you for competitive positions.
Consider earning a HR certification.Although certification is not always required for a HR job, it is held in high regard, and many hiring managers look for it. Additionally, HR professionals with a certification usually earn a higher salary.
- The main certification organization is the HR Certification Institute. The HRCI offers many different levels of certification based on your education and length of time working as a human resource professional.
Stay current on HR trends.Even if you already have an advanced degree or have decided not to return to school, it is important to stay current on HR technologies and trends. These can help you work more efficiently and understand new programs and procedures.
- If your employer or a HR organization offers a workshop, consider attending.
- Online workshops and webinars have become increasingly common. These remove the need to travel, and will allow you to network with people all over the world.
- Subscribe to HR publications.Workforce MagazineandHR Professionals Magazineaddress developments in the HR field. TheInternational Journal of Human Resources Managementis a research journal focused on HR trends. Publications such as these will keep you up to date on issues in the human resources field, and help you to succeed in your career.
Expanding Your Skillset with Internships and Volunteering
Seek out human resource internships.These are a great way to gain HR experience, especially if you are still in school. Even if you have a college degree, many prospective employers will still look to see if you have any relevant experience; an internship is a great way for you to gain a human resource background, learn new skills, and make new connections.
- Job fairs and online job boards are great places to find information about internships. If there is a company you are particularly interested in interning for, contact them and see if they have any open internships.
- If you are in school, talk to your professors about your desire for an internship. They may know of open positions.
- Visit the career development center at your school; they will be able to help you locate available internships.
- Look for an internship in the sector you'd like to work within, if possible. You'll have an easier time getting a job in a law firm if you have experience interning in one.
Volunteer your time.Look for local non-profits where you could volunteer to do human resources work. As a student, find a club or organization and volunteer to fill an HR role. You may not be paid, but you will gain valuable experience and skills that will help you in future jobs. You can also reference your volunteer time, and the skills you learned that are applicable to human resources when applying for HR jobs.
Take part-time administrative jobs that will help you develop useful HR skills.A human resources internship or position is ideal, but any office or administrative job will help you to hone abilities that can be applied to human resources. If you are having trouble finding a specifically human resources position, look for a job that requires similar skills.
- Administrative jobs will require you to be organized and work well with others. Sales and marketing positions will give you experience working with clients and interacting with customers. These are all important areas for human resources personnel to be experienced in.
Applying for Human Resources Jobs
Network with other HR professionals.Think about joining an HR organization, such as the National Human Resource Association and the Society for Human Resource Management. Consult their job boards and online forums, which often advertise open positions.
- Human resource organizations often hold meetings for their members. These are great sites for you to make useful connections that might help you learn about job openings. Connections can also help you get the job; if the hiring manager is choosing between two equally qualified candidates, they will probably go with the person they know.
- Networking will help you to stay informed on current trends or developments in the human resource field.
Optimize your resume.The first step is to write a neat resume. Your resume should be professional and concise. Emphasize your experience in human resources. If you have never had a human resources job, focus on the jobs where you learned skills that could be applied to HR.
- If you have taken classes that relate to human resources, make sure to highlight them on your resume.
Research potential places of employment.If you find a job that intrigues you, make sure you do your homework. Research the company as well as the job requirements. What are the long-term plans of the company? How many people does it employ? What is its reputation? These are all useful pieces of information to determine if you are a good fit for the company.
- Target the kinds of office environments that interest you. Do you want to work for a start-up? A hospital? Check the Careers section of the websites of companies within that field.
- Examine the job posting clearly; make sure it is a job for which you are qualified. Talk to colleagues that are currently working in a similar job. Ask them about the responsibilities and duties of the position to determine if you think you would excel in that capacity.
- Research any current news stories that involve the company. This will not only help you to know more about the organization, but it will help to prepare you for any possible job interviews. Look for any developments or expansions that have recently been in the news.
Consider applying for temporary jobs.If you are in school, a summer job may be ideal. Or, if you are having difficulty finding a long-term job or internship, start with a temporary position. There is always the possibility that it will be extended. If not, you will still gain experience and begin building your resume.
Prepare for job interviews.Interviewing for a job can be extremely stressful. Make sure you have done your research on both the company and the position. Have your polished resume ready to go, and practice answering common interview questions.
- During the interview, make sure to emphasize your leadership experience, customer service skills, and any relevant employment or education.
Video: How to Become a Successful HR Manager?
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