Human resources (HR) professionals manage, develop and support employees within an organisation.
They handle all the issues, policies and processes related to people, such as recruiting and hiring staff, training and developing employees and managing performance, compensation and benefits.
This complete guide includes a full human resources job description and discusses everything you need to know about HR careers, including the typical HR career path, skills and qualification requirements, salary potential and more.
- HR job description
- How much do HR professionals earn?
- What does a HR professional do?
- Requirements, skills and qualifications
- Who employs HR professionals?
- Which junior jobs progress to HR roles?
HR job description
HR co-ordinator | Click City Marketing
About Click City Marketing
We’re a creative and strategic digital marketing agency with offices in London and Manchester. We’ve been helping clients to drive sales and conversions for over 20 years via our ever-evolving, new-age digital marketing solutions.
About the role
Due to continued expansion, we are now looking for a HR co-ordinator to support our small HR team with the day-to-day operations of recruitment, staff development, payroll, and help us to support a happy, healthy and productive team — reports to the HR manager.
- Managing all day-to-day HR administration tasks; ensuring that all employee and HR records are accurate and up to date
- Assisting with the end-to-end recruitment process
- Creating employee training materials under the guidance of the learning and development manager
- Assisting with monthly payroll and resolving payment issues
- Preparing job offer emails and employment offer contracts
- Supporting the development of performance review processes and reward schemes
- Taking full responsibility for all annual leave and attendance records
- Inducting new staff and overseeing probationary periods
Location & commitments
- Full-time (Monday-Friday, 40 hours per week) role — flexi-time between 8 am and 6 pm
- Based in our Manchester Picadilly office – 5 mins walk from the station
- Overtime may occasionally be required during busy periods
- CIPD Qualified to Level 3, 5 or 7 or willing to study towards certification alongside employment
- 1+ years of experience of working in a junior HR position, with good knowledge of general HR principles and practices
- Up to date knowledge of employment law and legislation
- Confident communicator with sound interpersonal skills; capable of establishing strong connections with employees across all levels of the company
- Experience of using key HR software and systems — or tech-savvy and able to get to grips with them quickly
- A degree (or equivalent) in HR, business administration or a related subject
Contact us to apply
To apply, contact our HR manager, David Williams, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Send us an up to date CV and a short cover letter telling us why you would be a great fit for our HR team.
How much do HR professionals earn?
A career in human resources is usually well-paid – the average salary of a HR Generalist in the UK is:
Average HR salaries in the UK
- Human Resources Administrator: £23,000
- Human Resources Assistant: £25,000
- Human Resources Officer: £32,500
- Human Resources Generalist: £42,500
- Human Resources Director: £52,500
Human resources salaries will vary hugely depending on:
- The role seniority – As with all roles, salaries increase as workers rise up the ranks and gain promotions
- The HR specialism – Some HR professionals will specialise into specific areas, such as learning and development, talent acquisition or employee relations — with salaries varying between specialisms
- The industry and size of the employer – As HR spans across companies of all shapes and sizes, salaries vary dramatically — for example, a large corporate company will typically pay more than a small company, and the charity sector will typically pay less than the financial services industry
For example, a HR assistant or administrator is likely to earn significantly less than a HR manager, officer or director. Additionally, a HR professional working for a large, international company will typically earn more than a HR professional working for a small-medium sized company.
The figures listed above have been compiled from average figures taken from job advert samples. Therefore, they do not include extra benefits such as bonuses and non-financial benefits such as car allowances and healthcare.
What does a HR professional do?
Breaking down the job description, HR professionals will typically carry out a range of the following duties, tasks and responsibilities:
- Developing HR policies & procedures – Writing and regularly reviewing a series of HR policies and procedures and updating the employee handbook
- Managing the recruitment process – Coordinating the entire recruitment process, including creating job advertisements, shortlisting candidates, conducting interviews and selecting suitable recruits
- Onboarding new staff – Onboarding and inducting new staff by formally introducing them to the company, their colleagues and their new role and helping them to settle in
- Training and developing staff – Determining the training and development needs of staff, as well as organising and (sometimes) conducting training sessions
- Organising pay and benefits – Determining and developing employee compensation and benefits and working with payroll staff to ensure employees get paid on time and correctly
- Monitoring staff performance – Monitoring and evaluating employee performance in order to pinpoint training needs and set plans and goals to increase performance
- Managing employee relations – Managing the relationship between employees and dealing with any minor disputes and disagreements
- Dealing with grievances – Dealing with grievances (when an employee raises a formal complaint or concern about their employer) and trying to reach an amicable resolution
- Promoting equal opportunities – Encouraging equality and diversity as part of the company culture and recruitment strategy
- Ensuring legal compliance – Making sure that the company remains compliant with current employment law, policies and regulations
What do HR professionals need?
Human resources professionals need a range of skills, experience and — sometimes — qualifications in order to carry out their role to a high standard.
There are many different types and levels of roles within HR, meaning specific requirements will depend on the job type. However, here’s a general overview of what’s needed in the sector:
Junior general HR roles (such as HR administrator or assistant) are generally entry-level positions and therefore require no prior experience. However, previous experience in any type of administrative or HR role can act as an advantage during the hiring process.
Mid-level general HR roles (such HR officer or manager) will usually require the candidate to have gained between two and five years experience within a junior HR role, such as HR administrator or assistant.
Senior-level HR roles (such as head of HR or HR director) will typically require between seven and ten+ years of experience within general HR roles, including proven experience of managing a team.
Specialist HR roles (such as learning and development officer or employee relations manager) generally require two to five years of general HR experience, with significant exposure to the chosen speciality area. Some specialities/function will require more experience than others, so this largely comes on a role-by-role basis.
HR professional skills
Human resources professionals need a number of different skills in order to perform their roles to a high standard. These include:
- Communication: Communicating with and advising employees, line managers and senior managers on a wide range of tasks and personnel issues
- Active listening: Listening attentively to staff and management in order to gauge points of view, show empathy and focus on finding appropriate solutions
- Approachability: Being professional yet friendly and approachable to ensure that employees feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, problems and concerns
- Decision making: Making quick, effective and confident decisions during recruitment, redundancy and grievance procedures
- Conflict management: Dealing with tense and uncomfortable situations such as interviews, grievances and negotiations in a calm, fair and professional manner
- Time management: Juggling numerous time-sensitive tasks, such as payroll and employment contracts, without missing deadlines
- Discretion: Handling sensitive employee and company information with confidentiality and discretion
- Human resources information software (HRIS): Working with various HRIS tools and technologies such as SAP and Oracle to record, track and document HR information
- Recruitment: Attracting the right candidates to roles and selecting suitable talent
- Data analysis: Interpreting data from HR reports and analysing the data in order to refine strategies and make better decisions
While aptitude and experience alone are highly valued within HR, qualifications can certainly help professionals to learn the technicalities of the industry and speed up progression into higher-paying roles.
A HR position can still be gained without qualifications (normally as a trainee, administrator or assistant), but employers are increasingly seeking professional qualifications for senior-level HR roles.
There a wide range of training and qualification opportunities within the HR world, but here are some of the most credible and highly sought-after:
Degrees and master’s degrees
As the world of human resources is generally quite competitive, having a degree or HND can be a huge advantage.
A relevant degree is sometimes — but not always — an essential requirement for HR roles. It’s still possible to enter the field without one, but it may just be a little more challenging to find a suitable job and progress within the industry.
Trainee and graduate schemes within HR are generally available to graduates with a degree in any subject, as long as it is of a good standard (employers typically expect a 2:1 or a 1:1). However, a more relevant degree topic can be a huge advantage for competitive roles and schemes. These include:
- Human resources management
- Business or management subjects
Additionally, masters or postgraduate degrees in human resources management provide a more advanced level of HR knowledge and experience, as well as full CIPD membership — making them highly attractive to future employers. Generally speaking, those with a masters degree in HR can expect to enter the profession at a higher level of seniority.
Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) qualifications
The CIPD is recognised by employers all over the world. It is the main professional body for HR and offers a range of professional qualifications, teaching up-to-date industry knowledge, skills and best practices.
Many employers insist that their HR candidates — especially those who will be working at management level — are CIPD qualified. Studies also show that CIPD-certified professionals earn more than their unqualified colleagues.
CIPD offer a wide range of qualifications to suit different levels, including:
- CIPD Level 3 Foundation qualifications: Equivalent to A-Level — for those just starting out or working in a support role
- CIPD Level 5 Intermediate qualification: Equivalent to graduate level — for those with some experience who’re looking to advance their skills
- CIPD Level 7 Advanced qualification: Equivalent to postgraduate level — for those looking to become chartered and move into a strategic-level role
Online HR courses
While CIPD courses are the most well-recognised within the industry, there are also plenty of HR courses available online.
Generally speaking, these courses don’t go into the same level of detail as a HR degree, and don’t hold as much weight as being CIPD certified.
However, they’re still a good way to learn valuable HR skills and knowledge, especially for those who’re just starting out — and they’re generally more affordable, too.
Some common options include:
- HR Fundamentals: FutureLearn & CIPD
- HR Short Course: Oxford Home Study
- Diploma in Human Resources: Alison
- Various HR & Administration courses: NCC Home Learning
What is expected of HR professionals?
Human resources professionals will typically be expected to commit to the following:
- Full or part-time hours – Most HR roles (especially at management level) will be full-time (35 – 40 hours per week), but part-time opportunities are occasionally available
- Standard office hours – Jobs are likely to be offered on a traditional Monday-Friday, 9-5 schedule, though some sectors (such as factories and warehouses, who often work 24/7) may require some shift and/or weekend work
- Possibility of additional working hours – Senior roles can be demanding and may require additional work outside of the core office hours to meet deadlines and demands
- Location – Normally based at the employer’s head office
- Some travel – Depending on the nature of the job, travel to other company premises to visit employees or managers may be required
HR professional benefits
Human resource professionals are highly valued and generally receive good benefits packages. Packages will inevitably vary depending on the employer and role seniority, but common perks include:
- Bonuses – based on company performance
- Company mobile phone and laptop
- Car allowance – generally for senior roles
- Company discounts – dependant on the company
- Flexible working options
Who employs HR professionals?
Human resources professionals work in any organisation that employs enough staff to warrant the function of a HR department. They are employed in both the public and private sectors, across all industries.
They tend to work in offices company head offices in most cases, although could technically be based wherever they are needed by the employer. Opportunities are available across the UK, but as with most industries, employment opportunities are more widely available in larger towns and cities.
Typical HR employers include companies within (but are by no means limited to):
- HR consultancies – Companies who provide outsourced HR services to other businesses
- Financial services
- Utility services
- Marketing & PR
- Oil and gas
HR roles are more common within larger companies. Generally speaking, the bigger the company, the bigger the HR team. Large HR departments are more likely to employ a range of HR specialists to manage each specific area of human resources, such as:
- Talent acquisition: Recruiting and retaining suitable candidates and employees
- Learning and development: Pinpointing training needs and co-ordinating employee training and development
- Employee relations: Managing and resolving any employee problems, issues or concerns
- Compensation and benefits: Managing employee’s salary and benefits packages and salary increases
- Diversity & inclusion: Creating plans and processes to encourage diversity within an organisation
- HR information systems: Managing and maintaining HR tools and technologies
Smaller companies may not have any form of HR department at all or may simply employ a single HR generalist (someone who manages all HR tasks, policies and procedures, rather than specialising in a specific area of HR) to look after their employees.
Which junior jobs progress to human resource manager roles?
The following roles are considered junior or entry-level and make a great way for new starters to kick start their HR career and slowly progress into senior roles:
Human resources administrator
HR administrators support the HR department on — as the name suggests — administrative tasks. Tasks include managing and maintaining employee records, updating databases and processing reports and paperwork. This is generally the lowest role in the HR ranks, but offers great progression opportunities with time.
Human resources assistant/coordinator
HR assistants and co-ordinators work directly underneath senior HR staff to assist with day to day HR functions and duties. Tasks include screening job applications, checking references, updating records, preparing reports and inducting new employees. They usually train on-the-job and gradually gain more responsibility.
Which senior jobs do HR professionals progress to?
A career in human resources offers fantastic opportunity for progression, with senior roles offering salaries far above the UK national average. After gaining experience (and, often, CIPD qualification), employees naturally progress into the roles of:
Human resources manager
HR managers are typically ‘generalists’ who manage the day-to-day HR operations of a company as a whole. Tasks generally include managing the junior HR team, recruiting and terminating employees, planning training and development, coordinating compensation, rewards and benefits and more. It’s typically a very hands-on and demanding job, but often eventually leads to promotion into senior management.
HR specialists or advisors specialise in a particular HR function, such as talent acquisition, people analytics or employee experience. HR professionals generally take this leap after gaining a few years of general HR experience and discovering which area they find the most rewarding. Salaries in specialist roles vary, but can be high due to the specialist knowledge and, in some cases, additional training required.
Human resources director
HR directors manage and lead the entire human resources department of a large business. Tasks generally include working on higher-level strategies, policies and procedures, rather than working on the smaller, daily tasks. HR directors have a huge amount of responsibility and ultimately answer directly to the CEO of the business — however, the role can attract salaries well into the 6-figures.
HR job description – conclusion
Companies of all shapes and sizes require teams to look after their employees, meaning HR professionals will continue to be in high demand for the foreseeable future.
While it’s possible to work up the HR ladder without professional qualifications, employers are increasingly asking for HR candidates to be certified with the CIPD.
Overall, a career in HR can be challenging, rewarding and potentially lucrative, with fantastic opportunities for career progression.