How to Learn HR Skills in 5 Steps (Including Definition)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 29 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Human resources (HR) skills are important abilities that help HR professionals complete their daily tasks. There are many types of HR skills, each with its own purpose and benefits. Learning more about HR skills and how to adopt and expand upon them can help you to perform your job duties successfully and advance in your career. In this article, we define what HR skills are, show you how to develop them for your career and provide information on six types of skills you may consider learning.

What are HR skills?

HR skills are skills that HR professionals have to help them perform their key responsibilities. They can also be essential for recruiting and training new employees. Some jobs for HR professionals include HR specialists, recruiters, HR managers, talent acquisition specialists or HR generalists.

HR is a field that requires leadership and management training. HR professionals who want to attain those traits develop skills that can help them reach these levels in the office. Some examples of HR skills include administration, communication, interpersonal skills and managing priorities.

Related: Skills Employers Look For (And Tips on How to Showcase Them)

How to learn HR skills and develop them

To understand more about how to learn HR skills, here are some steps you can follow:

1. Be open to new learning opportunities

Being open to new changes and learning opportunities whenever they're available is a good way to advance your HR skills. For example, if you're an HR professional in a company and your employer offers to sign you up for courses that can help you develop professionally, consider participating in them. Doing so can also allow you to save on any additional costs of further education and help you advance within the organisation.

There are also many resources online and new ways to share information over the internet, which creates more learning opportunities for you to adopt new skills and develop them.

2. Keep a learning journal

It can be good for you to reflect and create notes on the skills that you're currently learning. To do this, you can consider keeping a journal to track the skills that you learn in the week, month or year. Such a journal allows you to evaluate your progress over time and can help ensure that you don't forget any of the skills you've learnt. A journal can also be a good way for you to practise your skills when you mentor other professionals because you can refer to it during the mentorship process.

Related: 8 HR Administrator Skills (With Steps to Improve Them)

3. Observe and learn from HR experts

Another way you can develop HR skills is to receive guidance, advice and mentorship from more experienced employees within the HR industry. Whenever you work with an expert or experienced professional, ask if you can learn new skills from them and understand how to apply these skills. Even simply observing HR experts as they work can be a learning experience.

Some HR professionals may also offer mentorship and internship opportunities to HR candidates too. During these learning experiences, observe how they manage their time and interact with other clients and employees to find out how they use the skills they have to succeed.

Read more: 15 Top Questions to Ask When Interviewing an Intern

4. Pursue further education

To further develop your current skills and expand your skill set, you can also consider pursuing further education in school. You could apply for a HR-related master's degree if you already have a bachelor's degree in HR management or a similar course. In some companies, hiring managers may look for HR professionals with a master's degree for more senior positions, as their qualifications can indicate their familiarity with more complex and sensitive procedures in human resources.

You may take about two to three years to complete a master's degree, which then gives you the chance to earn a higher salary or attain a senior position in a company.

5. Work with other HR professionals

Collaborating with other HR professionals allows you to learn new skills and procedures from them. Working together on projects can also improve soft skills like teamwork, active listening, communication and empathy, all of which can be beneficial in an HR role. If you're still a student, you can consider collaborating with other HR students or professionals on projects. Through these collaborations, you can practise the skills that you want to improve and learn to apply them effectively in an HR setting.

Related: How to Create an HR Administrator Resume in 5 Steps

6 human resources skills to learn

Here are six common HR skills in the workplace you can learn and develop to give yourself a boost in your career:

1. Payroll administration

Many HR professionals with skills in payroll administration can become desirable job candidates. Some common skills related to payroll administration include discussing and negotiating salary, using payroll software, knowing how to release payroll funds and calculating employee bonuses and benefits. Learning how to manage payroll is important since giving employees a proper salary can help to boost their morale and maintain productivity. Some ways you can learn payroll administration skills include direct experience in a payroll position or through online courses and physical classes.

Related: How to Write a Payroll Specialist Resume Objective

2. Empathy

Empathy is an important skill for all HR professionals to have in the workplace because it helps them to understand their peers in a more efficient way, leading to better relationships. Fostering good working relationships contribute to a positive work environment for all and can also be useful for career advancement. HR professionals often utilise empathy when handling issues regarding payroll, harassment and conflicts. A HR professional who's empathetic might be able to better engage employees in the company and develop genuine relationships with them.

Related: What Does an HR Manager Do? (With Definition and Guidelines)

3. IT software

Most HR professionals use basic IT software, such as spreadsheets and computer operating systems, while some may also use more advanced software. Having a good understanding of how these types of software work and how to troubleshoot potential issues can be a useful skill for a HR professional to have. Most HR professionals learn their software skills during university, but many organisations have HR software that they train their employees in so that they can do their tasks efficiently.

Being adaptable with software can be a skill in itself, as knowing how to operate different software can help you learn new ones quickly, which can improve your productivity.

4. Organisation

Organisational skills are important for HR professionals to have, since they help you to organise employee records, computer files, important documents and their workspace. Organisation skills can also include creating a system for physical objects like documents and separating them according to dates and other features, such as alphabets or numbers. Organisation skills can help HR professionals locate documents when they require them, contributing to a smoother workflow. Working in an organised workspace can also help them feel more comfortable, leading to higher morale.

Related: How to Highlight Organisation Skills on a Resume (With Tips)

5. Structured Query Language (SQL)

Structured query language, commonly known as SQL, is a common programming language that many HR professionals use to advance in their careers. This is because many recruiters often specify data analysis as a requirement for candidates looking for a HR role. SQL is also a language that HR professionals use to maintain databases, which is also the core job scope for many of them. SQL skills can also help you to create better data management systems and security for employee records, which can increase your value to the organisation.

6. Communication

As the nature of the HR role involves interfacing with people, communication is an essential soft skill for HR professionals to have. You may also use it when delivering presentations, conducting interviews with potential candidates and resolving conflicts between employees. Communication skills can also include good writing, since you may design and draft company policies and professional memos for employees. All these skills can help you express the messages you want to convey efficiently and articulately.

Related: How to Improve Communication Skills (With Definition and Examples)

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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