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How to Become a HR Specialist

Does working with others energize you? Do you like helping people? If you consider yourself a “people person,” a job as a human resources specialist might be ideal for you.

Human resources specialists are responsible for welcoming and onboarding new employees, as well as managing employee records and relations for their company. They’re vital members of the HR team, and touch virtually every employee with what they do. 

This position requires great people and communication skills and a knack for balancing multiple tasks and projects at once. Working as an HR specialist and daily assisting employees can be very rewarding. 

Sample job description

HR specialists assist in the recruitment process, helping to find qualified job candidates, recruit applicants, review resumes, conduct interviews, and perform background checks. HR specialists may also perform onboarding activities, orienting new employees on organizational policies, procedures, and benefits. For these reasons, HR specialists need excellent interpersonal skills, excellent speaking skills, and sound judgment and decision-making skills. [Your Company Name] is looking for a great HR specialist to join our team and help out our company. If you have experience in recruiting, coordinating interviews, handling documentation for staff hiring, and conducting new hire orientation, you might be the right candidate for a role as an HR specialist. 

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Recruit and place workers
  • Help manage employee relations and related programs
  • Oversee employee performance reviews 
  • Help with employee compensation, benefits, and training
  • Keep up-to-date employee records

Education and experience

This position requires a bachelor’s degree in human resource management, business administration, or a related field.

Required skills and qualifications

  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • Professional and courteous with a positive attitude
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office Suite
  • Can work with minimal guidance and oversight
  • Expertise in customer service
  • Ability to multitask and organize in a fast-paced environment

Preferred qualifications

  • 3 or more years of work experience in HR
  • Strong organization skills and attention to detail/accuracy
  • Knowledge of human resources practices and procedures
  • Prior data entry, payroll, and/or HR Information System experience
  • Excellent communication skills both verbal and in writing
  • Intermediate knowledge of Microsoft Office (including Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Word)
  • Ability to multi-task in a fast-paced, time-driven environment
  • Effective customer service skills and ability to interact professionally with all levels of the organization

Typical work environment

An HR specialist typically works in an office setting and spends much of the day working on a computer. They also communicate with job applicants and conduct interviews. HR specialists work 40-hour weeks during regular business hours. They may have to travel to attend job fairs, visit colleges, and meet with applicants.  

Typical hours

The typical work hours for a human resources specialist are from 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday, in an office setting. 

Available certifications

HR specialists are found in a wide variety of industries, and many institutions offer certifications that can help them build the knowledge and skills needed to further their careers. Here are some of the certifications available for HR specialists: 

  • Professional in Human Resources (PHR). The PHR is a professional credential offered by the HR Certification Institute. The course is designed for HR professionals who want to expand their knowledge and expertise in both the technical and operational aspects of HR management. The exam consists of mostly multiple-choice questions that test your knowledge of labor relations, business management, talent planning and acquisition, and more. Candidates must meet one of several conditions for education and/or experience to be eligible. The PHR certification is valid for three years, and you are required to earn 60 recertification credits to maintain your PHR credential, or you can retake the exam. 
  • Certified Staffing Professional (CSP). This certification is offered by the American Staffing Association (ASA) and certifies that HR professionals who work as staffing professionals have extensive knowledge of the essential rules for the workplace. The exam consists of 100 true-or-false and multiple-choice questions and focuses on federal and state labor and employment laws.

Career path

The career path for an HR specialist starts with obtaining a bachelor’s degree in human resource management, business administration, or a related field. Also, achieving certification as a Professional in Human Resources can help lay the groundwork to advance in an HR career. 

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 13-1071

2020 Employment674,800
Projected Employment in 2030748,200
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 10% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift73,400 increase

According to SelectHub, the employee experience will become more central in the roles of human resources professionals; they will have to prioritize employee-centric culture and experience to recruit the best candidates. And while some automation and artificial intelligence (AI) may coexist with human resources jobs, they will serve as complementary technologies, helping HR specialists do their jobs more efficiently.