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Essential HR Manager Skills and Competencies to Advance Your Career

 |  6 Min Read

Human resource management responsibilities require an overlapping set of skills and competencies. If you’re looking for an edge in today’s competitive job market, understanding and developing these skills is the key to success. Let’s count down the list of six core competencies for HR professionals.

Today’s job seekers have access to more information than ever before. Therefore, the best HR professionals must be prepared to meet these informed candidates with industry expertise of their own.

Understanding how and why individuals enter and move within an organization is at the core of everything else you will do in human resources. HR managers who truly add value are always attuned to “the big picture” of how HR practices relate to a successful business.

Your knowledge in this area needs to be greater than anyone else’s to support employees’ and employers’ objectives. After all, HR management is not just about talent acquisition but also about retention.

Today’s business landscape is complex and in a state of constant flux. The field of HR is dynamic, and our ability to process and understand it needs self-motivation.

Growing in your job means being receptive to new ideas, wherever they may come from. Have you demonstrated a commitment to ongoing learning by taking advantage of conferences, other colleagues in HR or graduate studies?

HR professionals who never stop learning are well-positioned to translate well-thought-out industry trends and data into actionable insights.

The primary function of the typical HR professional’s job involves facilitating discussion between employees and employers. If a human resources manager can’t communicate clearly, they will not be successful. Both oral and written skills are required to relay information effectively.

One aspect of communication that gives people an edge is a strong ability for conflict resolution. Even in the most agreeable workplaces, problems arise that need a diplomatic ear, an eye for assessment and a hand for getting the problem settled. This particular skill is invaluable when negotiating solutions and keeping things on track.

Critical thinking helps employees solve problems and build strategies that make them better at their jobs, according to Indeed.1 In any field, critical thinking helps professionals to:

  • Absorb information without bias
  • Analyze key characteristics of communication and context
  • Solve complex problems
  • Come up with creative, realistic solutions.

HR professionals, in particular, frequently need to balance complex situations and take their time to think with a combination of set-in-stone processes and outside-the-box thinking. Because employees come from a breadth and depth of backgrounds and experiences, HR professionals need to strategically cultivate an environment in which all can work together toward improving their organization.

The importance of ethics as an HR core competency cannot be overstated. Every day, HR professionals face ethical challenges related to everything from managing private employee information to protecting the reputation of their organizations. Adopting an unwavering and unilateral commitment to ethics not only helps attract top talent while safeguarding your organization but also fosters a culture of trust and loyalty.

Part of being ethical is truly caring about people. Empathy for tough situations and “real life” goes a long way to set you apart from those who just do it “by the book.”

Some ethical principles are enshrined in law. Making sure your company’s policies and practices are in legal compliance is a mainstay in the world of human resources. Avoiding discrimination in regard to ethnic background, disability, religious belief, and many other factors is important because of the hurt it will avoid and to foster a better, more diverse work environment.

Laws are constantly changing, sometimes incrementally, as part of a significant cultural shift. Therefore, staying up to date on national news, trends, and laws is particularly important; ignorance of the law is not a winning defense. Legal compliance, of course, also protects the company and its officers.

HR management is a juggling act. The more organized you are, the better you’ll be able to stay ahead of what you need to do and have time for what you want. If you think that organization is something you either have or don’t, think again. Organization can be honed by understanding where you work and doing a few things the same every day to build a daily routine.

How to Get Into Human Resources Management

The field of human resources is growing alongside a thriving national and international economy, which means that more human resources managers will be needed to accommodate this development. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), about 14,800 openings for human resources managers are projected each year, on average, from 2020 to 2030.2 Those with advanced knowledge from graduate degrees in human resources will be in the best position to take advantage of these opportunities.

The global marketplace, automated recruiting, talent management systems, and outsourced payroll have required – almost forced – the HR profession to evolve. The BLS also said that today’s HR managers must be experts in equal employment opportunities, healthcare, and retirement plans. However, the daily life of an HR manager also has its lighter moments.

One way to expand on your skills in this profession and motivate your workforce is to highlight the fun qualities of HR. That can include coordinating company parties, theme days and charity events, and drives; a nice break from keeping up on legal updates and handling tough personnel and technical issues.

Stepping up as an employee advocate is now one of the more important roles of HR, partly due to changing demographics. Millennial professionals surpassed Generation X in 2016 to comprise the largest share of the American workforce, according to the Pew Research Center, and this trend has continued.3

Whether it’s new tools for performing their job or providing clear avenues for development, the critical foundational and technical skills you’ll gain from your MS in Human Resources Management studies provide a basis that encourages continued learning and teaches methods to stay up-to-date on the latest news.

Many students in an MS in Human Resources Management program use the Capstone course to share their experiences with fellow students and learn real-life methods for adequately managing a younger workforce. A happy secondary benefit of this course is that professional circles grow, providing career connections with peers who will continue sharing experiences and solutions for years.

Prepare for a Future in Human Resources Management

Excellent work experience and core competencies can help, but that takes time. An online Master of Science in Human Resources Management helps develop all these skills quickly. An advanced degree will help you develop a richer understanding of how to be a better HR leader, and you’ll learn how to apply these skills appropriately for success.



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