Human Resource Management (HRM) is a general term used to describe the task of managing an organization’s employees or human resources. HRM Professionals oversee employee related functions such as benefits, compensation, career development, training, hiring, termination, and discipline measures.
There are two types of HR professionals: The Generalist and the Specialist
HR Generalists have a broad range of responsibilities including staffing the organization, training employees, maintaining a fair compensation program, developing personnel policies and procedures, and ensuring conformation to all laws that affect the workplace environment. Entry-level Generalist positions often come with a title of human resources/personnel assistant.
HR Specialists can usually be found at large organizations that require skill in specific areas of human resource management. Specialists can provide technical knowledge in a variety of areas, but the five main categories are shown below:
Employment and Recruiting
Typically, positions in this area come with the title of interviewer or recruiter. Duties include recruiting and interviewing potential employees, administration of preemployment tests, and processing terminated employees.
Compensation and Benefits
Positions include salary administrators, benefit administrators, and compensation analysts. Responsibilities involve analyzing job duties, writing job descriptions, determining and administering compensation benefits, and performing job evaluations. Benefit professionals may develop benefits programs, monitor benefit costs, and they may also be the go-between for employees and compensation vendors.
Training and Development
The official title for this position may be training or orientation specialist. Work typically consists of conducting training sessions and programs, as well as maintaining employee participation records. Training responsibilities may also include safety training.
Employee and Labor Relations
Titles include labor relations specialist, plant personnel assistant, or employee relations specialist. In union environments, this position involves interpreting union contracts, negotiating collective bargaining agreements, resolving grievances, and advising employees. In non-union environments, employee relations specialists perform a variety of general duties and also deal with employee grievances.
Health and Safety
Responsibilities of a safety specialist include developing and administering safety programs, conducting safety inspections, maintaining accident and health records, and preparing government reports.
Requirements for a career in HRM vary. Students should pursue a balanced curriculum that includes economics, business, labor law, behavioral sciences, and accounting and statistics. Any course that develops oral and written communication skills will also help. Additional course work for specialized positions in human resources, like compensation and benefits, is recommended.
As with all careers, chances of success can be greatly enhanced with graduate degrees. A Master’s degree in HRM, industrial relations, organized development, and business administration will help you secure a position in an increasingly complex marketplace.
Continuing education is also a vital part of HRM. To understand the latest developments in the field, human resource professionals should constantly pursue higher education by attending seminars and participating in certification programs.
Finding your first HR position requires skill, knowledge, and a little bit of luck. Placement studies have shown that 60%-70% of all HR jobs are found through personal contacts or networking. Developing a network of HR contacts early on can be critical to locating and securing your first position.
Some large companies, such as IBM and Accenture, recruit recent graduates for their HR training program. However, the vast majority of organizations do not. Many of them are looking for professionals with some level of experience. Creativity and persistence is what will help you break into this field. Many hopefuls take internships, or temporary positions to get the needed experience. Others start out in alternative positions like office manager or administrative assistant.
The demand for human resources professionals is always directly related to the state of the economy. Salaries will vary depending upon an organization’s size, economic activity, profitability, and geographic location.
A survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers stated that entry level HR professionals with a Bachelor’s degree receive starting annual salaries of around $35,000. An advanced degree adds about $5,000 to that figure. The same study concluded that median annual earnings of HR professionals was $91,400 on top of considerable benefit packages.