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Human Resources (HR) refers to a company department that is responsible for the management of the organisation’s employees. Generally, the aim of an HR team is to create and sustain a productive and cohesive workforce – so responsibilities include everything from hiring, firing and payroll, to introducing and implementing benefits, policies and company values.
Sitting at the very core of a business and working with people day-in, day-out, those in HR graduate jobs tend to be good communicators, with business acumen and exceptional people skills.
But due to the number of functions of an HR department, there is also a range of careers in human resources, and roles that are better suited to different skill sets, personalities and interests.
So, which career in human resources is right for you?
A Recruitment Coordinator works with candidates, external recruiters, other members of the HR team / the wider business in order to recruit and hire new employees. They will be involved in the recruitment process from beginning to end – designing a recruitment strategy based on the needs of the business, writing job descriptions, and often being involved in the interview and hiring process. The role of a Recruitment Coordinator will typically go beyond when a candidate accepts their offer – and can also cover onboarding and training new hires. Because they’ll need to liaise with many different people, of varying levels of seniority, Recruitment Coordinators will usually be business-savvy, with good time management, and fantastic communication skills.
A Training & Development Officer is responsible for the learning and professional development of a company’s employees. Their role can involve creating structured development plans for new starters, looking into learning opportunities for the entire company, and proactively identifying the need for longer-standing employees to undergo further training. The varied nature of the role means that Training & Development Officers are usually organised, adaptable and able to think outside of the box – because they’ll need to always be thinking up new ways to develop the company’s workforce.
A graduate job as an HR Assistant / HR Administrator tends to be an entry-level role, where the individual will be building up their skills and learning from more senior members of the team. The role will usually be relatively admin-based, with the employee acting as the first point of contact for members of staff, answering low-level internal enquiries, filing contracts, and ensuring that the employee database is correctly organised. Increasingly, entry-level HR graduate jobs will also involve identifying issues, analysing and evaluating data and reports, and relaying the findings to the wider team – so analytical skills would be useful. For a graduate looking to work in HR, an entry-level role as an HR Assistant / HR Administrator is a great way to launch a career in the industry, build up a solid skill set and work towards becoming an HR Coordinator or an HR Manager.
Typically a more senior role than an Assistant / Administrator, an HR Coordinator acts as the bridge between employees and the HR team. They will often be the first person an employee will contact with a higher-level question or work-related issue. They also play a key role in the daily operations of an HR team – delegating tasks and queries, helping to onboard and retain new hires, and sometimes supporting the HR Manager in thinking up new benefits, programmes and strategies. Because they are relaying and escalating issues to more senior employees, then ensuring that they are dealt with effectively, an HR Coordinator needs to be trustworthy, a good listener and a confident communicator.
An HR Manager creates strategies, policies and initiatives to ensure a cohesive and efficient workforce. In charge of planning, implementing and reviewing employee activities, they are key to creating an effective HR programme, as well as ensuring that it is both financially viable, and legally compliant. In most cases, they will also be managing a team – whether that be one HR Assistant or, in the case of a much larger organisation, a team of 5 – 10 or more. Because of the increased responsibility, an HR Manager will often have at least 1-2 years experience – so it’s a role that will usually be a natural progression for an HR Assistant or Administrator. To get to the level of an HR Manager, the individual will need to have demonstrated high emotional intelligence, organisation and leadership skills – as they’ll have the ultimate task of ensuring that a workforce is operating productively, efficiently and harmoniously.
Over the course of the last few years in particular, onboarding has become a big focal point for employers – so HR graduate jobs that concentrate specifically on onboarding are becoming increasingly popular. The role of an Onboarding Executive or Specialist involves organising orientation programmes, acting as a point of contact and support for new hires, and ensuring they have everything they need to succeed – like employee handbooks, technical equipment, or a mentor. Working predominantly with new hires, an Onboarding Executive or Specialist will need to be exceptionally patient, have a good understanding of the business, and be able to juggle many different tasks at once.
The role of an Equality & Diversity Officer is to plan, develop and implement strategies to ensure equality and encourage diversity in the workplace. In practice, this could mean thinking up ways to attract and hire more women in a traditionally male-dominated sector, or working to educate the company on cultural differences. An Equality & Diversity Officer may also resolve disputes between employees, raise awareness of important issues, and provide guidance and support to minorities in the business. They will also often work with external groups, charities or organisations such as local councils or the police – so as well as being able to empathise with employees, they must have strong ethics, be able to work well autonomously, and be comfortable communicating with influential individuals.
HR teams sit at the very heart of a business – in charge of recruitment, employee welfare, policies, regulations, company culture, and more. Although all HR graduate jobs require great people skills, there is a huge range of careers in human resources available - suited to different skill sets, personalities and interests.
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