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How to Become a Chief Human Resources Officer

If you enjoy helping people, have strong leadership capabilities, exceptional interpersonal and conflict resolution skills, excellent written and verbal communication skills, and strong analytical and problem-solving skills, a career as a chief human resources officer (CHRO) might be right for you.

Chief human resources officers oversee critical elements of a company’s success. This includes talent management, retention, and succession planning. They work alongside executives and staff to analyze and improve existing HR policies and procedures and ensure those strategies align with company objectives. Chief human resource officers have a great understanding of corporate culture and excellent planning and organizational skills. They contribute to a healthy corporate culture that supports growth and equal opportunity. 

Sample job description

The chief human resources officer (CHRO) is responsible for the development and execution of the human resource approach that supports the organizational business plan and strategy. You will be responsible for overseeing the human resources department and all of its functions including recruitment, orientation, training, benefits management, succession planning, compensation, compliance with state and federal labor laws, staff terminations, conflict resolution, incident documentation, etc. You will assist in the development and implementation of policies and procedures for accomplishing human resources goals and objectives. You will provide strategic leadership and will communicate all HR needs and updates to the executive. 

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Clearly communicate HR efforts and goals to the company workforce
  • Oversee the digitization of company infrastructure and employee practices 
  • Create and evaluate new training and development programs to ensure future-proofing of the workforce
  • Formulate career development plans
  • Develop and implement comprehensive compensation and benefits plans that are competitive and cost-effective
  • Provide overall leadership and guidance to the HR function by overseeing talent acquisition, career development, succession planning, retention, training, leadership development, compensation, and benefits globally
  • Develop HR plans and strategies to support the achievement of the overall business
  • Work with the company’s executive management team to establish a sound plan of management succession that corresponds to the strategy and objectives of the company
  • Assist with the organization of team-building and staff development activities
  • Brainstorm and implement incentives that increase staff morale and productivity
  • Contribute to a healthy corporate culture that supports growth and equal opportunity  

Education and experience

  • Bachelor’s degree in human resources, business administration, strategic management, or related field
  • Master’s degree a plus
  • 7+ years of related experience

Required skills and qualifications

  • Extensive knowledge of employment-related laws and regulations
  • Knowledge of and experience with human resource information systems
  • Strong supervisory and leadership skills
  • Exceptional organizational skills and attention to detail
  • Strong analytical and problem-solving skills
  • Excellent interpersonal and conflict resolution skills
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills

Preferred qualifications

  • Experience in strategic planning
  • Extensive knowledge of HR software such as HRIS or ATS
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite or related software
  • Previous experience as VP of Human Resources or similar role
  • Excellent leadership abilities

Typical work environment

Chief human resources officers typically work in offices. Most work full time during regular business hours. However, some travel to attend professional meetings or to recruit employees. 

Typical hours

The typical work hours for a chief human resources officer in an office setting are 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday. Most CHRO’s work full-time, however, some work more than 40 hours a week. 

Available certifications

Chief human resources officers work in a variety of industries, and many institutions offer certifications. Here are some of the top certifications available:

  • Human Resource Information Professional (HRIP) Certification. The Human Resource Information Professional (HRIP) certification is designed to assess the knowledge and competencies of professionals in the HR information management field. The HRIP certification indicates a demonstrated comprehensive understanding and proficiency of the defined body of knowledge in HR information management. There are no requirements to take the exam however, it is recommended that the ideal candidate have at least 3-5 years of experience in HR technology solutions and/or information management.
  • Professional in Human Resources (PHR) Certification. The Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certification demonstrates your mastery of the technical and operational aspects of HR management, including U.S. laws and regulations. To be eligible for the PHR you must have at least one year of experience in a professional-level HR position and a master’s degree or higher, have at least two years of experience in a professional-level HR position and a Bachelor’s degree, or have at least four years of experience in a professional-level HR position.
  • Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) Certification. The Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certification demonstrates your mastery of the strategic and policy-making aspects of HR management. To be eligible for the SPHR you must have at least four years of experience in a professional-level HR position and a master’s degree or higher, have at least five years of experience in a professional-level HR position and a bachelor’s degree, or have at least seven years of experience in a professional-level HR position. 

Career path

The path to a career as a chief human resources officer starts with a bachelor’s degree, typically in human resources, strategic management, business administration, or related field. 

The next step is to gain practical experience by obtaining an entry-level position as an HR assistant or similar job. Employers usually seek CHROs who have at least seven years of experience working in HR. You can also gain experience through internships while obtaining your degree. 

Pursuing certification is a great way to boost your career. Certification is not mandatory for this career, but some employers may require it and many prefer it. Certification helps validate your knowledge and further your education and expertise in your field. 

Some chief human resources officer positions may require a master’s degree. By earning a master’s degree, you can take your career to senior roles and attain a top-level position as a chief human resource officer. 

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 11-1011

2020 Employment58.400
Projected Employment in 203062,700
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 7% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift4,300 increase

Employment of chief executives is projected to decline 6% from 2020 to 2030. Improvements and advancements in office technology and changing organizational structures have increased the ability of these workers to perform tasks previously done by multiple chief executives. In addition, economic activity and employment have become increasingly concentrated in large, established companies. This may lead to fewer new jobs for chief executives.