The field of human resources continues to grow to ensure personnel who understand the complexities employment law and the realm of employment benefits. In fact, the Occupational Outlook "Handbook" maintains that "Much faster than average growth is expected during the projection period" for human resources, trainers, and labor relations managers and specialists ("Handbook," 2011). Human resources managers come from a wide variety of educational backgrounds, which is an artifact of the different levels of responsibility within the field and the diversity of duties associated with different specialties. In any case, acquiring certification in the area of specialty -- and graduation from college with either a BA or a Masters degree -- provides the greatest opportunities for a good position in the field and for future advancement. The Chronicle Guidance Publications, Inc. offers occupational briefs for all major types of work. The general listing of occupations includes an indexed entry -- the relevant brief for Human Resources Mangers is shown below. A nice feature is the occupational title pronunciation guide.
Human Resources Managers ('hu-man re'sour-ces 'man-ag-ers) are in charge of all the phases of human resources within a company. They direct a staff who recruit, hire, and train employees; develop wage and salary scales; administer benefit programs; ensure positive labor relations and compliance with government regulations. ("Chronicle Guidance," 2011).
Human Resource Work
The purpose of work in the field of human resources is to attract, hire, motivate, and retain the best possible employees qualified for positions in every type of organization and endeavor ("Handbook," 2011). One of the goals of human resource managers is to match potential employees to jobs and positions. In many organizations, human resources directors are involved in strategic planning ("Handbook," 2011). No longer content to provide back-office support, human resources executives are often participants on the executive committees of corporations and organizations ("Handbook," 2011). Administrative functions, however, remain an important component of the day-to-day work of human resources personnel. These administrative functions include off-site recruitment, hiring, and consulting with other managers about training, performance evaluation, and termination of employment. In addition, the area of employee benefits is a major focus for human resources personnel. Human resources managers must carry out their work in accordance with the policies and procedures of a company -- which are established by the directors and executive management -- and in compliance with state and federal regulations for employers and employees. The work of a human resources manager is a bit more eponymous than what might be apparent at first glance. Most companies appreciate that their employees are their greatest resource, and it is the job of the human resources manager to ensure that the skills, talents, and experience that employees bring to their jobs are optimally utilized. In light of this goal, human resources mangers work with employees to provide training and staff development opportunities that increase their productivity and value to the company, and that lower employee turnover ("Handbook," 2011). In addition to the direct benefits to the companies, human resources managers strive to enhance the morale of employees, improve job satisfaction, and create positive working conditions ("Handbook," 2011). Because the lion's share of human resource work involves engagement with other people, excellent people skills are a requirement of the job. In all aspects of human resources work, strong interpersonal skills are needed ("Handbook," 2011).
Human Resources Specialties
Small companies must generally rely on the skills of a generalist human resources officer ("Handbook," 2011). The range of knowledge expected of a human resources generalist is wide. However, in larger corporations, a number of fairly distinct specialties exist. Different specialties may even be structured as divisions, each overseen by a senior human resources specialist ("Handbook," 2011). The areas of specialty include "employment and placement, compensation and benefits, training and development, or labor relations" ("Handbook," 2011: 1). Typically, there is one executive human resources position overseeing the human resources managers in each of the specialty divisions. The distribution of jobs over these human resources occupational specialties for the year 2008 is shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1. Human Resources Jobs by Occupational Specialty
The Society for Human Resource Management organizes the areas of specialty a bit differently and offers online forums in each of these areas: Benefits,…