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Looking to start or advance your career in human resources? Fortunately for you, there are dozens of HR jobs to consider. This in-depth guide will cover all of the best HR jobs along with quick tips and long-term strategies for getting hired or promoted.
Why Human Resources Jobs Are So Important
Human resources is a fairly broad term that encompasses a wide range of business functions.
In short, this department is responsible for hiring employees and managing employee development. The HR staff also needs to manage all functions of payroll, employee benefits, and administrative tasks related to employees in the organization.
As the name implies, HR teams must be a resource for employees in a wide range of different circumstances. This includes managing employee conflicts, employee relations, and so much more.
Other HR roles and responsibilities include:
- Recruiting candidates
- Conducting employee disciplinary actions
- Updating company policies and employee handbooks
- Maintaining all employee records
- Managing employee safety
- Facilitating employee training
- Overseeing compliance
- Offering career growth to employees
- Supporting employee health and wellness
If an employee has a complaint against a co-worker or manager, they’d need to contact human resources. HR must be available to answer questions when someone inquires about their benefits, PTO, or sick time leave laws. If an employee is having a child or needs to reduce their hours to make accommodations for disabilities, they’d go to HR.
Employees rely on the HR team for such a wide range of different things, all related to wellbeing in the workplace. All of these responsibilities have a significant impact on company culture. That’s why HR jobs are so important.
Anyone interested in a career in HR has so many options to consider. From administrative tasks to management, conflict resolution, and so much more, you have the opportunity to wear lots of different hats throughout the day.
There’s also so much room for growth in HR. So if you’re committed and get in with the right companies, you can advance your HR career quickly and make more money while simultaneously contributing to the organization in a positive way.
Top Human Resources Jobs and Quick Tips For Landing Them Today
Human resources has drastically changed over the years. Lots of day-to-day administrative tasks are being replaced by modern technology.
This is both good news and bad news for people interested in HR jobs. On the plus side, your job will involve significantly less paper-pushing and more big-picture responsibilities. But landing these jobs will require different skills that weren’t required in the past.
Learning to play nice with technology is the best quick tip for getting hired in HR roles.
From small startups to Fortune 500s and everything in between, organizations of all sizes are relying heavily on technology. Check out our guide on the best HR software to learn more about the top tools being used by HR professionals today.
Even if you’re still job hunting, you can sign up for free HR software to get familiar with the different functions. For example, Zenefits lets you try an interactive demo free for two weeks.
If the two-week plan isn’t enough, Zenefits offers month-to-month plans starting at just $10 per month. This is a marginal investment compared to how much money you’ll make when you get hired—then, you can cancel the plan at any time.
Obviously, the companies you apply to work for will likely all be using different HR software.
But inquiring about what HR software they use during an interview can really help you stand out from other candidates. Then you can follow up with, “I’m familiar with Zenefits [or whatever software you’ve tried], but eager to try [whatever they’re using]. I’ve heard great things about it, and I’ll probably sign up for a demo right after this interview.”
Below we’ll dive deeper into different jobs in human resources and the responsibilities associated with each position. The titles might vary slightly from company to company.
Entry Level HR Jobs
If you’re a recent graduate with no HR experience, you’ll need to start with an entry-level human resources job before you can advance your career. Those jobs typically include:
- HR Intern — Interns are usually unpaid jobs for students looking to get working experience in HR. These temporary positions involve tasks like getting coffee or sorting mail for higher-ups in the HR department.
- HR Assistant — HR assistants are similar to interns, but they’re usually paid and full-time jobs. Assistants work directly for a higher-level HR job and handle day-to-day tasks assigned by that leader. It’s expected for assistants to learn the ropes before advancing up the HR ladder.
- HR Coordinator — Coordinators operate similarly to administrative assistants. They prepare meeting materials, send notices to employees, and help file employee documentation.
- Recruiter — Recruiters manage open job postings, schedule job interviews, and actively reach out to top-level talent that would be a good fit for the organization. While they don’t actually make hiring decisions, they help narrow down the shortlist for hiring managers.
- Staff Coordinator — Staff coordinators help manage the tasks and responsibilities handled by the rest of the entry-level HR positions. They provide assistance with recruitment, employee screenings, and orientation for new employees. A staff coordinator might be the direct manager of an HR intern or another low-level role.
HR industry knowledge isn’t really expected for entry-level jobs. It’s more about getting your foot in the door of an HR department. From here, you can expect to advance within a year or two if you can handle administrative tasks well.
Mid Level HR Jobs
Managers, leaders, and HR specialists all fall into the mid-level HR tier. These roles can typically delegate tasks to entry-level positions but still have to answer to upper-level management and directors for certain decisions.
- HR Manager — As the name implies, HR managers are in charge of the lower-level HR people. They act as a buffer between the HR directors and the people doing the brunt of HR tasks. These jobs require excellent communication skills, leadership, and team-working skills.
- HR Administrator — There are different niche-specific HR administrator roles. For example, a benefits administrator would make decisions about employee benefits and work with third-party companies to facilitate those benefits. Training administers help facilitate new hire training and employee development training.
- HR Sourcer — Sourcers work above recruiters in larger organizations. They’re essentially recruiting managers that set the rules for targeting and filtering potential candidates. They have more power with recruiting decisions and can be a bit more aggressive in terms of negotiating with talent, helping to fill open roles with the best possible candidates.
- HR Generalist — Generalists don’t have a specialty, but they handle a little bit of everything in the HR department. The role can best be described as the associate within the mid-level tier of HR jobs. Many HR generalists look for more specialized roles in other companies if they aren’t moving up the ladder at their current place of work.
- HR Information Specialist — Information specialists must be able to interpret HR data, reports, and other analytics. After interpreting the data, they must report their findings to upper-level management with recommendations for actions.
Showing initiative in an entry-level HR position is the best way to land a mid-tier role. HR staff can also move laterally within the mid-tier positions to gain more experience and knowledge within the overall scope of human resources.
Upper-Level HR Jobs
Smaller companies might have just one upper-level HR position available. This person will likely be responsible for lots of big-picture initiatives. But larger organizations tend to have several upper-level HR jobs, splitting up the roles and responsibilities.
- HR Director — HR directors are usually the highest position that’s directly in charge of the HR department. In some organizations, there could be a regional director for multiple locations. In smaller companies, the role could encompass the responsibilities of VPs or C-level executives.
- Specialist HR Director — These jobs are only common in large organizations and enterprises. For example, a company with 10,000+ employees might have a specialist director for employee benefits that works directly above the benefits administrator.
- VP of HR — The specific roles and responsibilities of a VP will vary based on the business size, industry, and management structure. For larger companies, VPs will usually be above a director. Alternatively, VPs could share the same authority as a director but split responsibilities.
- Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) — CDOs are relatively new HR positions. It’s their job to ensure equal opportunity employment, diversity recruiting, non-discrimination practices, equitable benefits administration, and similar initiatives.
- Chief Human Resource Officer — Also known as a Chief People Officer (CPO), chief human resource officers make all of the high-level HR decisions for a company. They typically serve on the organization’s board of directors and report directly to the company’s CEO.
It usually takes several years of experience working in HR before you can move up the ladder and land an upper-level position. Getting HR certifications, expanding your technical knowledge, sharpening your management skills, and learning how to analyze big-picture HR data is the fastest way to advance to an upper-level HR job.
Other HR Job Titles
As previously mentioned, human resources is a fairly broad category. There are literally hundreds of different job titles out there associated with HR.
So as you’re browsing through job boards and looking for different positions, you might come across HR job titles like:
- HR Trainer
- HR Analyst
- Talent Acquisition Manager
- HR Branch Manager
- Director of People Systems
- HR Consultant
- HR Technical Supervisor
- HR Branch Manager
- Employee Experience Architect
- Director of Reward and Recognition
- Associate Executive HR
- Assistant HR Manager
- Chief of Human Capital Officer
- Chief People and Change Management Officer
- Director of Workforce Analytics
If you’re creative enough, you could even carve a new niche HR role in your organization. Maybe your company doesn’t have a certain HR function right now—you can fill that position with one of these unique job titles.
Long-Term Strategies to Advance Your Career in Human Resources
Advancing your HR career doesn’t typically happen overnight. But there are some long-term strategies you can take to help further your career in human resources.
These strategies take time, but the ultimate payoff is well worth the effort.
Strategy #1 — Network With HR Professionals
Developing your relationship with as many HR professionals as possible will give you lots of opportunities to find higher-paying HR jobs. You can start networking even as an intern or assistant.
Stay in touch with managers and executives you worked underneath in your days as an intern, even if you’re working at another company. Keep them updated on how you’re advancing in other roles, and they might ultimately reach out to you when a new position opens up.
You can also network through events, trade shows, conferences, and professional networking sites like LinkedIn. Stay active in the HR community and be ready to take advantage of new opportunities.
Strategy #2 — Stay Up to Date on HR Industry Trends
The HR industry is constantly changing.
For example, HR software wasn’t as prevalent ten years ago as it is today. New HR job titles like Chief Diversity Officer weren’t common positions ten years ago either.
You need to keep your eye on HR trends by reading human resources blogs, HR magazines, HR journals, and more. Consider joining HR associations, as they’ll keep you updated with reports on the latest HR best practices and management theories.
This will give you an edge over other job candidates who lack industry knowledge.
Strategy #3 — Get Your Master’s Degree
While this obviously requires additional schooling, a Master’s Degree in Human Resources or a Master’s Degree in Business Administration can help you land upper-level HR jobs faster.
With a Master’s, you can likely bypass the entry-level positions and start in a specialized HR role right away.
For those of you currently working an HR job, you can get your Master’s degree online without leaving your full-time job. Some companies might even pay for your education, as they like to invest in their own people.
As we said before, technology plays a significant role in most HR functions. To give yourself an edge, you must learn about the different tools with the broader HR category.
Our guide on the best training software is perfect for HR jobs that handle new hire training and employee development.