How to Prepare for a Career in Human Resources.
Liking people is not the only qualification for pursuing a career in Human Resources as many people thinks there is so much more to it. It helps, but it is insufficient for success. Human resource jobs and career continue to grow in superiority and the expectations of employers increase every year. Employee development, employee retention, and a positive, motivating work environment are critical elements to business success.
In smaller companies, a few HR staff members wear many hats and do general HR work with responsibility for all aspects of HR. In larger companies, an HR Director or Vice President might head up multiple departments led by managers, who specialize in areas such as training and development, compensation and benefits, or labor relations.
Because of the variety of positions in the field called Human Resources, the opportunity to find a work setting that suits your skills and strengths, your preference for company size or your desire to specialize or generalize, is greater. The more skills and qualifications you possess, the more likely you are to be hired and later promoted in Human Resources setting you career apart.
Degrees to Prepare for a Career in Human Resources
Researches predict that career and job opportunities will be most available in Human Resources for people who keep these three key points in mind:
- “The educational backgrounds of these workers vary considerably, reflecting the diversity of duties and levels of responsibility.
- “Certification and previous experience are assets for most specialties, and are essential for more advanced positions, including managers, arbitrators, and mediators.
- “College graduates who have earned certification should have the best job opportunities.”
Many colleges and universities have educational programs that lead to degrees in Human Resources, HR specialties such as training and development, or business. Depending on the school you choose, courses leading to a career in Human Resources management will be found in departments such as business, education, instructional design or technology, organization development, human services, communication, or public administration and the list can follow.
Coursework to Prepare for a Career in Human Resources
People who want to work successfully in Human Resources should take courses in business, social sciences such as psychology and sociology, and finance. Most prospective human resources specialists should take courses in compensation, recruitment, training and development, and performance appraisal, as well as courses in principles of management, organizational structure, and industrial psychology. Other relevant courses include business administration, public administration, psychology, sociology, political science, economics, and statistics thus helping boost their chances of a better job placement. Courses in labor law, collective bargaining, labor economics, labor history, and industrial psychology also provide a valuable background for the prospective labor relations specialist.”
Graduate Programs to Prepare for a Career in Human Resources
If you are considering a career in Human Resources, you need to know that many professionals are also pursuing Masters degrees in Human Resources, Organization Development, Business Administration (MBA), and other fields. A Masters degree will eventually be required if you are in competition for the best jobs.
Some HR professionals say that the Masters is the new Bachelors degree in the field. And, because of the challenge of employment law, more Human Resources professionals are obtaining law degrees or transferring into Human Resources from the legal profession.
“Many labor relations jobs require graduate study in industrial or labor relations. A strong background in industrial relations and law is highly desirable for contract negotiators, mediators, and arbitrators; in fact, many people in these specialties are lawyers. A background in law also is desirable for employee benefits managers and others who must interpret the growing number of laws and regulations. A master’s degree in human resources, labor relations, or in business administration with a concentration in human resources management is highly recommended for those seeking general and top management positions.”
Qualifications to Prepare for a Career in Human Resources
Here are some of the key skills and personal qualifications you will need to work successfully in Human Resources include:
- Effective interpersonal skills so you can interact successfully with people.
- Knowledge of computers and information systems.
- Effective spoken and written communication. This is very essential.
- Comfort with diverse people who have various educational levels, cultural heritages, religious practices, ages, work experience, and opinions.
- Understanding of statistics and finance.
- Conflict resolution skills.
- Able to set and accomplish goals and work as a member of a team.
- Demonstrate a high level of integrity, confidentiality, and fairness.
Experience to Prepare for a Career in Human Resources
It is difficult to break into a career in Human Resources above the entry level. Successive positions at the HR generalist and manager level, or above, require the knowledge and experience obtained in entry-level positions.
Occasionally, experienced individuals who have held managerial-type positions in business, government, or the military might be considered for positions above entry level. They should consider obtaining certifications or taking coursework related to their Human Resources area of interest in preparation. This may not always be the case but patience and hard work will always pay.
If you are seeking an entry level HR position, try to obtain some experience while you are in college as an intern. Even part time work or an internship in other fields adds to your potential as a candidate. Leadership roles in clubs, volunteer experiences, club or college sports, and real world projects for a company add to your credibility as a candidate. You will always need to be active and be prepared as the field of HR always demands calmness, patience and a great sense of awareness.
Put on your thinking caps and leap forward into the field of Human Resource.
By Marcelo Azavedo