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Career guide: HR professional

Thursday, January 4, 2018
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Career guide: HR professional
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There's never been a better time to be an HR professional. More than ever before, organizational experts are discussing the importance of creating a positive employee experience in the workplace. Studies point to the major role job engagement and satisfaction have to play in productivity, and research shows that a positive, supportive work culture that includes ample employee recognition leads to success. All this means that HR is being put at the forefront of companies' business strategies. 

As such, there's great opportunity for motivated individuals to study human resources and make a major impact in the happiness of employees across all industries. Working in HR is a rewarding career path for this reason - read on to learn more about the role:

What do HR professionals do?
Human resources is a discipline that concerns issues related to the people of an organization, as The Balance explained. HR professionals work within this discipline to perform a range of duties that concern recruitment, performance management, training, compensation, benefits and more. Beyond these tasks, however, they are also responsible for helping employees with any problems, questions or difficulties they may face, such as harassment or the desire to move to another department.

HRHuman resources personnel are essential to the success of organizations.

In addition, HR professionals advise company leadership on the best actions to take to motivate and support employees. This specific role has expanded in recent years as organizations recognize the importance of creating positive work cultures. As the Society for Human Resource Management explains, strategic HR management looks to the future to determine ways a positive employee experience can be cultivated, protected and constantly improved over time. 

How do you become an HR professional?
HR professionals often receive their undergraduate degree in HR or a related field, such as business. Many go on to receive their master's degree in human resources, and some may choose to complete a PhD in a related specialty, such as organizational psychology. 

A master's degree in human resources is often necessary for individuals to secure managerial or supervisory positions in HR. An advanced degree can also help make candidates more competitive applicants for HR positions at all levels, as it shows they have completed a robust course of study in the field. For example, the Master of Science in Human Resource Management at the Krannert School of Business at Purdue University develops students to be trusted business partners at their organizations, helping to lead companies toward success through effective people management. Candidates with master's degrees likely have the best likelihood of being hired, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

In addition to education, many employers look favorably upon job candidates with HR certifications, the BLS notes. Well-known certifications include the Professional in Human Resources (PHR) and Human Resources Management Professional (HRMP). These certifications can be administered via different organizations, including the HR Certification Institute and the Society for Human Resource Management.  

"An advanced degree can help make candidates more competitive applicants for HR positions."

What skills are important for HR professionals to have?
HR professionals should have superior people skills and be effective verbal and written communicators. They should be skilled at creative problem-solving and be proficient at conflict resolution. They should also be detailed-oriented and organized, able to keep track of many moving parts in an organization at once. HR professionals should also be highly empathetic and good listeners, able to be viewed as a supportive, trusted resource by employees and as dependable advisors on strategy by business leaders. 

Career outlook for HR professionals 
The BLS estimates that HR specialists will see 7 percent growth between 2016 and 2026, with HR managers experiencing 9 percent growth during this same period. As companies increase their focus on employee engagement, they'll be looking for skilled talent ready to address the challenges and opportunities of modern HR. 

While demand for general HR professionals is strong, there is also high demand for professionals with specialties in certain areas. A data analysis by Indeed conducted in May 2017 found that recruiter was the most in-demand HR-related job title, followed by HR manager and HR generalist. 

The 2016 median annual salary for an HR specialist was $59,180, according to the BLS. However, salary prospects are higher for HR managers, who had a 2016 median annual pay of $106,910. 

If you want to help create more positive employee experiences and inspiring company cultures, consider working in HR. It is an exciting, rewarding career path for those who are passionate about this vitally important field. 

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