Human Resources (HR) is a multi-faceted career track, making it ideal for people who enjoy working in an ever-evolving and versatile field. As an HR professional, you have the opportunity to play a critical role in the successes of an organization and its employees.
We sat down with Sylvia Belli, Herzing University’s human resources business partner, to find out what students should know about working in the field. Sylvia has been working in human resources for 20 years and was happy to share her top three tips for success.
1. Communication is key
While having strong listening skills is important in any role, even more valuable is the ability to adjust your communication style to your audience. In HR, you’ll be communicating with people who have a range of professional experiences, says Belli, and successful HR professionals are able to adjust their communication style to the person with whom they are speaking.
“It’s important to meet the person where they are, whether their position is entry-level or executive; professionally experienced or not,” she notes.
2. It’s a balancing act
HR departments exist to balance the needs of employees and the employer, says Belli. This means that it’s critical for HR representatives to remain neutral when dealing with employee-employer conflict, as well as bring forth outcomes that can benefit both parties equally.
HR helps maintain this delicate balance any time there is a change in the workplace, such as a restructuring of the organization or new management, adds Belli. In today’s business world, HR professionals are ‘change agents,’ she says.
There are specific laws, known as employment laws, to help guide HR professionals in making important decisions. Employment law is designed to help facilitate positive employer-employee relationships and prevent issues such as workplace discrimination and workplace disruption.
As Belli puts it, “HR is the representation of how the company enforces employment law.” For this reason, “When you’re in HR, you’re held to a higher standard amongst employees,” she says.
3. HR = The face of the company
In certain ways, HR leaders are the face of the company, Belli says. HR can often be seen as an organization’s moral compass, and it’s up to the members of the department to maintain a high level of integrity.
Additionally, if you’re working in HR, you’ll want to know how to talk about and “sell” your employer’s brand, says Belli.
Selling an employer brand means knowing which values your company upholds, as well as how to express those values to current and potential employees. This is applicable in numerous areas of HR, such as maintaining employer relations and managing employee needs, but Belli says that it’s especially important for recruiting.
An HR manager is likely the first person that a candidate meets with, and since HR is responsible for being most familiar with the employer’s brand, he or she should be able to tell if a candidate is a good fit for the company or not. HR leaders can also help determine whether employees feel that their employer is living up to its brand and upholding its core values. If not, HR can then spearhead initiatives to improve company culture and increase employee satisfaction and engagement.
Many students don’t realize how all-encompassing a job in human resources can be, says Belli. If you enjoy working with people and solving problems, then a career in HR could be a good fit for you.
As an HR professional, you'll have more opportunities if you hold a college degree. You can also advance your HR career by earning a master’s degree and industry-recognized certifications.