The Human Resources Industry: Jobs, Skills and Job Outlook
The Human Resources (or HR) sector encompasses all those professions involved in managing the personnel of a company or organization. Human Resources professionals are involved in every single aspect of personnel management, including recruiting, training, talent development and career development, payroll management, negotiating and setting contractual conditions and promotions and dismissals.
HR professionals include payroll and benefits administrators, human resources managers, HR specialists, recruiters, selectors, talent managers and many more besides.
Human Resources professionals play a key role in a company’s operations, helping it to expand by hiring new recruits, ensuring workers’ needs and expectations in terms of contractual conditions, training and career progression are listened to, and seeking to foster a work environment that is conducive to productivity and employee retention.
HR specialists are also responsible for helping to build a corporate culture, for monitoring and assessing employee performance and for identifying strategies and actions designed to improve both individual and overall performance levels.
HR workers usually require some form of university level qualification, such as a degree in Human Resources Management, Psychology, Sociology, or in another humanities discipline.
A number of technical professions, such as human resources consultant or payroll administrator, may, however, require specialist studies, for example in labour law or business and accounting.
What types of businesses operate in the HR sector?
Essentially, two types of company employ HR professionals: companies with their own in-house HR department and businesses providing specialist HR consultancy services.
The first group consists of medium and large-sized national and multinational businesses operating in every industry and in both the public and private sectors, including manufacturing companies, sales and trading businesses, banks and insurance companies, service providers and public bodies and agencies.
Smaller companies also need human resources support, but more often than not are forced by a lack of resources to hire external consultants to look after these areas. This is especially the case with regard to processes and tasks of an administrative or bureaucratic nature.
Human Resources professionals are also employed in a wide range of consulting firms specializing in organizational development, training, search and selection, which offer their services to both employers and job hunters. These include recruitment and headhunting firms, temporary and permanent staffing agencies, job placement, career transition and outplacement companies, and talent management firms.
Companies hiring in the Human Resources sector:
Human Resources - Trends and Job Outlook
In the light of the global trend towards the use of temporary personnel provided by employment agencies and temporary staffing companies, job prospects in the HR industry are currently good - particularly in the HR services sector.
There are also large numbers of in-house job openings for HR managers and assistants. The ability to manage personnel and cultivate talent represents a strategic asset and companies are therefore keen to recruit HR specialists who can help them organize their workforce effectively and keep motivation levels high, engaging and cultivating employees’ skills and working to ensure the retention of top performing personnel.
Finally, career prospects are also good for HR information and communication technology specialists. The growing use of technology in personnel selection and management processes has led to the emergence of a range of interesting innovations, including the development of online recruiting platforms, job search engines, CV screening software and employer branding.
What skills are required in the HR industry?
A number of transversal skills are required to work in the Human Resources sector. These include:
An important aspect of the work of a Human Resources professional is dealing with issues affecting the workforce, as well as problems arising between senior management and employees in relation to a range of matters, including contractual conditions, remuneration, work shifts and working hours. In order to reach a solution that is satisfactory for all parties concerned, negotiation, mediation and conflict resolution skills are an essential requirement.
Human resources management involves a significant number of administrative and bureaucratic tasks, many of which are subject to strict deadlines - such as payroll processing and administration. Candidates for HR positions therefore require a structured, methodical approach and strong organizational skills, coupled with accuracy, thoroughness and attention to detail.
The decisions taken by a company’s Human Resources managers have a wide-ranging influence. As well as being responsible for ensuring an organization has the personnel it needs to achieve its goals or meet its production requirements, HR also have a critical role to play in a number of other key areas, such as training and development and employee satisfaction. HR specialists therefore need to be able to make the best possible decisions in all circumstances, based on the data before them, sector best practices, experience and the application of critical thinking skills.