There is more to human resources than recruiting top talent. Contrary to that stereotype, the field offers many varied career paths, and the one you choose should depend on your interests. Before deciding on or discounting a career in human resources, get a firm handle on what is available in the field.
HR generalists wear many different hats. You could find yourself negotiating your company’s employee benefits package on the same day that you are interviewing a candidate for a high-ranking position. To help determine if this is the right job for you, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I enjoy changing gears on a moment’s notice?
- Am I open to learning about areas in which I currently have no expertise?
- Am I comfortable leaving a project unfinished to handle emergency situations?
- Do I consider myself flexible?
If you answered in the affirmative to these questions, you would probably be a good fit for a generalist role.
Compensation professionals are typically always in demand, regardless of the state of the economy, and shortages of well-qualified people in this area ensure that demand remains relatively high. The job requires both strong technical skills and good people skills.
Compensation professionals design reward systems that help companies attract, retain, and motivate their employees. This work requires number crunching and creativity. Because compensation packages are not one-size-fits-all products, people in this area need to think outside the box and perform a little magic when both candidates and money are scarce. Consider the following questions:
- Am I a detail-oriented person?
- Do I have an aptitude for numbers?
- Am I comfortable seeing other people’s salaries?
- Do I have strong communication skills?
Answering “yes” to these questions may mean you have the aptitude for working with both people and numbers. This combination could add up to a winning career in an area where talent is sparse.
Another area of HR experiencing a talent shortage is human resources information systems (HRIS).
Technology has become a key part of HR as companies look at ways to function more efficiently. HRIS products help organizations manage one of their most important assets: their personnel.
As HRIS becomes more sophisticated, the demand for experienced professionals in this area rises. HRIS professionals are often involved in product selection, systems customization, implementation, and ongoing administration. If you are detail-oriented to a fault and enjoy working with computers, this might be the job for you. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Are my PC skills strong enough to be successful in this area?
- Am I comfortable working at a computer most of the day?
- Am I well-organized?
- Am I detail-oriented enough to handle this position?
If you answered “yes” to all of these questions, then consider this career in HR. The long-term prospects are high, regardless of the economy.
The varied job descriptions of the HR field pull from many different skill sets, indicating the relevance of different backgrounds to the field as a whole and speaking to a wide variety of transferable skills from any number of educational and professional backgrounds.