Human Resources in Today’s Business World
Before considering a career in human resources development it’s important to understand how this job has evolved over the past few decades. Those working currently in Human Resources Development, formerly known as personnel, or just HR will find themselves doing various jobs depending upon the size of the company for which they are employed. The mention of HR officers brings to mind an outdated image; an employee who only works with the administrative side of a company handles employee benefits questions or is only concerned with recruiting and hiring personnel.
Today, an employee in human resources development may find herself managing the tasks above, as well as consulting with top executives in the company to determine strategic planning. An HR officer today has moved from behind the scenes staff work to leading the company in suggesting and changing policies. In the modern corporate world, senior management is now recognizing how important human resources development is to the company’s bottom line.
In addition, human resources staff may work to improve morale and productivity and limit job turnover. They can also be responsible for helping the company effectively use employee skills, provide training opportunities to enhance skills, and help boost employee satisfaction with their jobs and working conditions.
If you are attracted to a career in human resources development you must like working with people. Many HR officers work only with people outside the organization, while many work mostly with internal employees. In a small company, the human resources officer may handle all aspects of the job, in effect becoming a generalist of the field. In large companies, the Human Resources department may be large enough to contain a Director of Human Resources, employment and placement managers, recruiters, Equal Employment Officers (EEO) who investigate employee grievances, and part-time human resource technicians that handle the clerical aspects of the job.
Work usually takes place in clean and comfortable office settings. Most human resources workers work a 35 to 40 hour week, however at some times there may be a need for longer hours, for example, when contract agreements are being prepared and negotiated. Although most employees work in an office, some travel extensively to attend professional meetings and to visit college campuses for recruitment fairs.
Education Requirements for HR Officers
According to recent surveys, the competition will be quite high for jobs in this field due to the abundant supply of qualified college graduates and experienced workers. A college degree is not absolute in order to gain employment in this field, however, if you are interested in advancement a bachelor’s degree may be necessary depending upon the size of the organization. Many employers seek college grads to fill entry-level positions and prefer applicants that have majored in human resources, personnel administration, or industrial or labor relations.
Many colleges have programs leading to the degrees mentioned above. Often, these programs include courses in the departments of business administration, education, instructional technology, organizational development, human services, communication or public administration. An interdisciplinary background is favored for HR positions, and some schools will offer a combination of courses in the social sciences, business, and behavioral sciences.
Personal Traits of an HR Employee
Human resources jobs also require a range of personal qualities and skills such as effective communication skills, both verbal and written. The growing diversity in the industry now demands that most HR officers work with or supervise people with various cultural backgrounds, levels of education, and experience. A good Human Resources employee can also manage conflict, cope with differing points of view, function under pressure, and demonstrate discretion, integrity, fair-mindedness, and a persuasive, congenial personality.
The Path to a Career in Human Resources
If you still feel drawn to a career in human resources, you can look for an entry-level position with no experience required and start learning on the job. If you desire to remain in the field, it is best to go back to school, and some companies even offer tuition assistance to their employees.
But keep in mind that the most successful employees in the field will begin their first position with a college degree. If possible, you might attend college before seeking employment, in order to gain an edge over competing applicants.But keep in mind