Industry profile: Human resources

By Rosa Ritchie | 04 July 2016

A job in Human Resources (HR) means you’re responsible for looking after the most important assets of your workplace – its staff. HR is a central part of every organisation. There are many opportunities for different types of work in this field. If you enjoy working with people, problem solving and are goal oriented, then a career in HR could be a good fit and it’s likely there’s a position out there that’s right for you.

If you’re already working in a similar area, gaining new skills and qualifications could be a way of transitioning in to this field or upskilling to a new position. Read on to find out a bit more about opportunities and careers in this growing industry and where a career in HR could take you.

What is involved in an HR position?

Jobs in HR can involve all aspects of looking after the organisation’s staff – from the process of hiring and recruitment, to ensuring staff are well trained and working in a safe and accessible environment, as well as processing leave and other entitlements and compensation and managing employee performance. Each of these roles involves a balance of being organised and goal focused, while also engaging with a diverse range of people.

For example, the process or recruitment involves having a clear understanding of the goals of the organisation and the types of people they might be looking for to help them achieve them, and the ability to ensure the selection process highlights the skills and personalities the organisation is after.

It also involves a high degree of organisation, including processing applications, scheduling interviews and making sure the process runs smoothly so your employer can find the best staff.

For some organisations HR work is done internally, while others engage external HR service providers to manage some elements of their HR needs such as recruitment, rostering or training.

Working for an organisation that specialises in HR can be a good way to ensure diversity in your work and develop your skills in the area, and the type of organisation you would like to work for is an important consideration when thinking about a job in HR.

It’s also good to think about the areas you might like to specialise in. Employee relations, business management, recruitment, and employee benefits and compensation are all areas of specialisation. More general positions include HR managers, administrators, operations managers, and coordinators – who each have particular responsibilities within the organisation.

What types of people are suited to work in the HR industry?

If you enjoy solving problems, are a team player and enjoy working with people, then chances are you’re well suited to a career in HR. However, people skills aren’t the only asset in this profession. Having initiative to design or implement projects, or the resourcefulness to solve problems are also important.

Being familiar with guidelines and internal policies is another part of work in HR, as HR staff are often responsible for making sure these are practiced and implemented across the organisation. Occupational Health and Safety policies are one example of the type of policy an HR officer might be required to implement.

This may include processing reports of OH&S hazards, responding to complaints, or designing and running training so that all staff are able to do their work safely. Other important practices in HR include being able to listen to and engage with all staff, from Directors to temporary workers.

HR professionals need to be able to process information efficiently to achieve results. Discretion and tact are also important personal attributes, as HR professionals may be required to respond to private concerns of employees, or to investigate reports or complaints.

At the end of the day, many of these skills can be developed as you work in the industry. The most important question when considering a career in HR is whether the tasks and skills described in this article sound like challenges you would enjoy, and work you would find satisfying. If you enjoy working with people, are friendly and approachable, enjoy being organised and are happy to keep learning, then you already have the basics sorted.

What qualifications or skills do I need?

Working in HR can involve a lot of practical skills and experience, and completing a Certificate or Diploma can be a great way to build or enhance your skills in the field. 

Areas of study can include a range of things from organising meetings and running recruitment, to making presentations, managing workplace relations, supporting employee and industrial relations standards, or implementing customer service standards.

Operating systems and Microsoft Office skills are also important parts of the work – and ensuring you’re comfortable and competent with these programs is essential to doing well in this field. If this all sounds pretty hands on, that’s because it is!

Working with HR means working with people and playing a central role in the operation of the organisation, which means it’s essential that HR professionals are up to date with the latest practices, policies and procedures.

What kind of salary can I expect?

Like most industries, experience counts in HR and very few people start at the top. While salaries increase significantly over the first ten years, the average weekly is income for HR professionals is above the national average.

While entry level positions may not see a pay jump, the majority of salaries still reflect the essential role HR plays in any organisation and increase according to skills and experience. If you’re hoping to improve your salary prospects, gaining experience and qualifications will help give you a competitive edge and demonstrate your value to the organisation.

Ensuring you are up to date in the most recent industry training, qualifications and practices will help to bump those numbers up, even as progress through your career as an HR professional. 

Do you already work in the HR Industry and have any sage advice for those entering or thinking of entering the industry? Let us know


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