Human resources professionals play roles in the workplace no one else can.
As a human resources professional, your role touches every department of an organization. With such a wide reach, your skill set is vital in shaping company culture and retaining employees. And that’s a lot of pressure.
If you want to build confidence and find a job that makes a difference, there are key human resources skills that will always be needed. Here’s what they are and ways to improve them.
What are human resources skills?
Human resources skills, also known as HR skills, are a set of competencies that help professionals effectively coordinate the administrative functions of an organization. These skills empower progressive human resources managers and assistants to successfully recruit talent, guide employee growth, and resolve conflict.
Although there are various jobs in this field — from entry-level assistant roles to senior-level vice president positions — there are common skills between them that everyone should hold. These include communication, decision-making, and training and developmental skills.
What skills are needed for human resources? 15 for your resume
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, human resources management is a reliable field with an average annual income of $126,230 and a projected growth rate of 7% from 2021–2031. This growth rate is just as fast as other occupations, meaning although there are lots of opportunities, there are still few enough that competition is stiff.
If you’re applying for positions in the human resources industry, you’ll need to show off relevant hard and soft skills for human resources. Here are 15 essential human resources resume skills to list on your resume or CV:
1. Communication skills
Interpersonal communication is necessary for any worker, but even more so for human resources professionals. You interact with employees and managers daily, often when tensions are high. The skills you need include both written and verbal communication because you’ll correspond by email, phone, and in person. You have to interview candidates, discuss growth opportunities, and resolve workplace conflict, depending on the day.
Becoming a strong public speaker is also vital to performing well during recruitment events and while onboarding new hires. If your company sends you to a university career fair, for example, you must speak with conviction when delivering company information to motivate the students to apply. This won’t happen every day, but it’s still important to consider.
2. Organizational skills
A day in the life of a human resources professional includes numerous administrative tasks such as scheduling meetings, developing training plans, and filing company information systematically.
Because this wide range of responsibilities involves time-sensitive planning, they require someone with strong organizational skills. You need to pay attention to detail and make sure no scheduling conflicts arise.
You also have to ensure that new hires follow onboarding processes and training materials — and that documentation is comprehensive. Staying organized makes it easier to remember which documents employees need and when, and that you make proper follow-ups with department leaders.
3. Decision-making skills
Professionals in this field make critical decisions on the daily, whether deciding to advance a candidate in the hiring process or fire someone. Because these decisions heavily influence the well-being and careers of others, you need to consider situations carefully, keep the organization’s best interest in mind, and make decisions without cognitive bias.
4. Training and development skills
Although most departments might give employees on-the-job training, human resources professionals often conduct presentations and plan training sessions to help them along the way. In this field, you have to be confident in your training skills, with patience, effective communication, and strong leadership abilities.
5. Emotional intelligence skills
One of human resources’ primary responsibilities is managing human capital and employee relations. And when you have strong emotional intelligence, you regulate your reactions, sympathize with others, and help mediate stress and conflict between employees.
Suppose an employee feels unmotivated and directionless in their career development. In that case, you should understand their feelings and provide them with the information they need to make productive decisions regarding their career. And that requires compassion and empathy as well as technical knowledge.
This skill is especially important if you have to lay off employees. It’s a challenging task to conduct, but even if it’s hard for you, you have to consider the person in front of you and what they’re going through. Understanding their emotions and expressing empathy makes this process less painful than it needs to be.
6. Conflict resolution skills
This is one of the most important human resources skills for your resume. Although emotional intelligence and empathy are valuable skills, being able to resolve conflict is a unique challenge on its own.
Conflict resolution requires a combination of skills, including active listening, being assertive, and problem-solving. If a work dispute frustrates someone, or an ex-employee lashes out after termination, it’s often your job to address their emotions and de-escalate the situation professionally.
7. Recruitment skills
As a human resources professional, one of your primary tasks is the entire process of sourcing, identifying, and screening potential employees. Workers shape the company’s environment, productivity, and success, which makes this a critical role to play. You need to know how to spot great candidates and offer a strong employee value proposition to encourage them to sign on.
8. Time management skills
With so much on their plates, human resources managers often have busy schedules and need strong time management skills. Besides being able to organize and manage meetings, you need an accurate sense of how much time a particular task will take and when the best time to do it is.
Imagine you’re recruiting for a position and aim to interview 10 candidates in a day. You should know how long each interview will take to avoid scheduling conflicts and make sure those meetings don’t go over time.
9. Knowledge of HRIS
Human resources information systems, also known as HRIS, are integral to organized and informed human resources management. This software manages and maintains essential employee data, policies, and procedure documentation. You can learn it on the job, but listing it on your resume shows employers you’re an asset.
10. Cultural sensitivity skills
Cultural sensitivity skills are essential for building an inclusive workplace environment that respects diversity. This skill lets you gain awareness and appreciation for cultural groups other than your own, and it lets you apply that knowledge to the job. You’ll encourage recruiters to hire fairly and ensure all employees are treated with respect in the workplace.
11. Finance skills
Although the finance department handles all statements and reporting, human resources professionals oversee employee benefits, compensation, and social activities. An effective rep ensures everyone follows budgets properly and there’s no overspending.
12. Computer skills
Most skills on this list are soft, meaning they involve emotional intelligence and critical thinking. But there are many hard skills that human resources professionals need to learn.
Whether you correspond with employees regarding personal matters or send important company-related documents to third parties, you must be familiar with computers and online applications.
And since that information is sensitive, it’s also important to keep security in mind. Without a proper understanding of software and applications, you could make mistakes when publishing job postings or leak critical company data to the wrong audience.
13. Teamwork skills
If you’re working at a large company, the human resources department will have multiple team members on individual and interconnected tasks. Each member of the team must be able to work on a team to share ideas and reach the department’s goals.
14. Proactivity skills
Being proactive is the best way to anticipate upcoming challenges before they arise. And since human resources professionals confront interpersonal challenges every day, they need to take initiative and solve problems before they get worse.
15. Adaptability skills
In this field, expect the unexpected. Some days, you’ll organize your schedule and know exactly what’s coming. Other days, you’ll encounter time-sensitive matters that you need to drop everything for. Stay flexible and build your adaptability skills so when your schedule does change, you go with the flow.
How to improve your human resources skills
No matter your work experience, there’s always room to improve your hard and soft skills. Here are four tips for improving your human resources skills:
- Listen actively: Other people are your best asset when it comes to upskilling. Practice active listening to new and current employees’ needs to develop your communication skills and pinpoint where you might need to grow.
- Work on your non-verbal communication: Around 70% of communication is nonverbal, so make it count. Use body language to your advantage to help others feel comfortable communicating with you. Effective eye contact shows you’re interested in what the other has to say, while a strong stance shows that you’re self-assured.
- Develop patience: Even the most experienced human resources professionals have strong emotions on the job once in a while. When dealing with intense feelings and an unpredictable work schedule, you’ll need to be patient and remain flexible. This ensures you can tolerate any circumstances that come your way and deal with issues calmly.
- Learn the software: You’ll encounter human resource management software and applicant tracking systems at nearly any job. Although they’ll differ from company to company, familiarizing yourself with them on your own saves you time and helps you make the most out of your tools.
Build the skills you need to succeed
Whether you’re starting your career or you’re an experienced worker looking to improve your value, choosing several human resources skills to work on is an excellent way to stay competitive.
You can take courses, talk to a coach, or upskill on the job. No matter what path you choose, it’s worth it to become a better human resources professional and a better person.