Job Profile: HR


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Human resources job overview

If you’re interested in working in human resources, there’s a lot more you need to know about than simply being a ‘people-person’. With a range of responsibilities and different jobs within HR departments, you’ll want to know where your skills are best placed and the different tasks you’ll be carrying out.

With our HR job profile, part of the Anne Corder Recruitment career map, you’ll find our advice on putting in a HR job application and more about what it takes to secure a HR job including:


Responsibilities typically included in an HR job:

Areas of responsibility in a human resources role can include:

  • employee relations
  • organisation design
  • organisation development
  • learning and development
  • performance and reward
  • employee engagement
  • resourcing and talent planning
  • service delivery and information


Desirable skills for HR jobs:

  • To pursue a career into senior HR roles most organisations will require either an HR related degree or commitment to study for the full Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) qualification at levels 3, 5 or 7
  • A commercial approach with a demonstrable business acumen along with a strategic outlook, data awareness and ability to analyse data
  • A desire to understand the organisations plans, goals etc and how HR can influence and add to the bottom line


What kind of person suits an HR career?

Someone who has a selection of the following characteristics could be perfect for a HR job:

  • Curiosity can be crucial for successful HR professionals. If you’re naturally inquisitive and open-minded, you can apply these characteristics in a business setting to help add value and new innovative business solutions.
  • Decisive thinker – demonstrates the ability to analyse and understand data and information quickly. Uses information, insights and knowledge in a structured way to identify options, make recommendations and make robust, defendable decisions.
  • Confident and decisive – having the confidence and courage to challenge set practices can be a big positive for HR professionals. It’s important that you’re able to become a ‘thought-leader’ within a business, showing articulateness and the ability to democratically yet confidently deal with difficult or unfamiliar circumstances.
  • Data-driven – being able to confidently analyse data and digest it quickly to either identify opportunities or make recommendations will allow you to support your decisions and show confidence when voicing your suggestions.
  • An ability to influence – being able to harness support and commitment from stakeholders within a business is crucial for HR professionals. You will want widespread support for your suggestions, to help your plans succeed.
  • High standards of personal integrity – in a HR department you will be expected to lead by example, showing impartiality and the ability to understand personal, organisation and legal provisions and parameters.
  • Professionalism – you will need to combine HR expertise with commercial awareness to bring real value to an organisation.
  • People-person – HR departments work with people every day. You’ll need to be confident and approachable when working with lots of different individuals across the organisation and with influencers and stakeholders outside of the immediate organisation.
  • Ambition and determination – being able to show a strong determination to add value to an organisation and achieve new personal and organisational goals is a real strength for any professional, but particularly in HR.


What career development opportunities are there for HR professionals?

HR roles can vary from entry-level support roles through to group HR director roles – there’s real scope to develop and progress within HR departments.

Generalist HR roles will focus on operational issues, which then with development will progress to managing teams and more strategic positions.

Specialist HR roles may cover: talent management; learning and development; engagement; organisation design and development, and employee relations. However, that list is by no means expansive and many specialist roles can exist in HR departments.

Many successful HR managers/directors will have commenced their careers in other operational managerial roles and then transferred into the HR arena. As a result, many bring with them an understanding of the world outside of HR and strong business acumen and commercial skills.


Where could you be working in an HR job?

  • In public, private or third sector
  • There are usually opportunities within SME’s through to very large global organisations
  • Could be UK-based or anywhere across the world (have a read of our case study with Tracey Ritchie who relocated from New Zealand to the UK for a HR project management role)
  • Working as part of large HR team or in a standalone position
  • Could be based in corporate head office, regionally based or covering multiple sites
  • There are opportunities across a wide range of sectors including manufacturing, service sector, retail, engineering, financial services, professional services etc.
  • HR support could also be offered on a consultancy basis
  • HR also lends itself easily to temporary, contract and interim work


HR jobs can also be titled:

More generalist HR roles tend to be HR managers and HR business partners. Roles that specialise in areas of HR include:

  • workforce planning
  • organisation design
  • learning and development
  • talent management
  • resourcing
  • recruitment
  • employee relations
  • employee engagement
  • HR shared service roles, which can be seen to offer more of a strategic managerial role yet with more operational input too


Three top tips for a HR job application:

  1. Highlight your business acumen: Employers are looking for HR professionals with commercial skills, strategic understanding, and who understand the important role HR has to play in the wider organisation.
  2. Demonstrate a confidence with data: In a HR role you will need to use data to inform business decisions and demonstrate the impact of HR. Make sure you can use real example of when you’ve confidently handled data in your CV and at interview.
  3. Provide evidence that people initiatives are underpinned by a robust business case, and how they have benefitted the organisation. Similarly show how you have influenced stakeholders and the result of such influence.
  4. Relationship building: Explain how you have built relationships within different areas of the business.
  5. Think long and short-term: Illustrate success in meeting both the long-term business needs and short-term requirements.


Our latest HR job opportunities


Extra information about a career in HR can be found on the CIPD’s website: