What Does a Human Resources Manager Do? (With Skills)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 27 September 2021

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 managers play a vital role in organisations because they're in charge of identifying and recruiting talent and ensuring skilled professionals stay with employers. The role of a human resources manager requires several soft skills, as they may manage people across different levels of a business. Knowing the duties and responsibilities of the human resources manager and the skills required to excel in the role can help you decide whether the profession aligns with your career interests. In this article, we answer the question, what does a human resources manager do?, explain how you can begin this career and provide the skills you may use to excel in the role.

What is a human resources manager?

The human resources manager is the person who oversees the operations of an organisation's human resources department. Human resources managers handle recruitment campaigns, staff training, work schedules, payroll, terminations and conflict resolution. There are other functions that can fall within a human resources manager's area of responsibility, depending on the scale and hierarchy of a company. Human resources managers typically have an in-depth understanding of the relevant labour laws and regulations in their industry. Besides creating an enabling environment for employees, they also advise management on best practices to attract and retain talent.

Human resources managers may work as generalists or specialists. Generalists oversee every aspect of the job. Specialists can focus on recruitment, talent identification and acquisition or labour relations, among other fields. Whichever aspect you want to focus on, it's important to know the entry requirements to improve your chances of employment.

What does a human resources manager do?

To understand what does the human resources manager do, the primary duty is to help an organisation acquire, retain and improve a skilled workforce that can achieve company goals and objectives. Here are some of the duties of human resources managers:

  • create and execute human resources strategies to help the organisation actualise its objectives

  • supervise the recruitment and selection of employees

  • train, onboard and orient employees for improved performance and efficiency

  • create a positive organisational culture and working environment

  • serve as the liaison between the management and employees during times of conflict

  • develop and implement policies to reduce employee turnover while increasing loyalty

  • perform regular employee performance appraisals and provide constructive feedback to boost performance and productivity

  • manage employee compensation, including salaries and bonuses

  • enforce compliance with labour laws and regulations

  • create work schedules in collaboration with other heads of departments and team leads

  • compile reports on the overall performance of human resources strategies and advise management on ways to improve results

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How to become a human resources manager

Here are the steps you can take to become a human resources manager:

1. Complete a human resources degree

Most entry-level human resources manager roles require at least a bachelor's degree in human resources, business management, finance and related fields. Some large employers may require candidates to have a master's degree in human resources, industrial or labour relations, business administration or a foundational degree in their specific industry. Meanwhile, some employers may consider candidates who have extensive work experience, even if they have less educational qualifications.

2. Complete an internship

If you're considering a human resources manager position, completing an internship during or after your studies can improve your chances of employment. Internships provide valuable industry experience, help you develop vital skills and give you access to a network of professionals. You can use the experience from your internship to boost your resume and the work hours may even improve your eligibility for professional certification exams and advanced studies.

3. Gain relevant work experience

Employers typically require human resources managers to have industry experience, although the requirement depends on the specific duties and responsibilities of each role. The type of experience you may require also depends on your specialisation. Employers may require entry roles to have up to two years of experience in human resources, while senior positions may require up to five years of management experience.

Experience in areas such as training, recruitment, interviewing, compensation and benefits, negotiation and conflict resolution can make your resume more appealing to companies. Internships, relevant coursework and knowledge gained from entry-level human resources jobs can all help you gain experience.

4. Start applying for jobs

Once you have the requisite education and experience requirements, you can start applying for human resources manager jobs. Sometimes, you may be able to apply for a human resources manager role within the same organisation. For example, maybe you being your career as a human resources specialist but advance your role and take on more responsibilities as a generalist.

5. Get a professional certification or advanced degree

One way to improve your chances of getting a human resources manager role is to get a professional certification or advanced degree. Having a Master in Business Administration can provide you with expert skill sets in areas such as financial analysis, accounting, mediation and pension regulation, which can give you an advantage over other candidates. Certifications from the Society for Human Resources Management, such as the SHRM-Certified Professional, is a widely respected credential human resources managers can use to boost their earning potential and employability.

Skills to excel in a human resources manager role

Here are important skills that can help human resources managers excel in their roles:

Communication

Communication is one of the most important skills for effective human resources managers. As the intermediary between management and employees, human resources managers may work with a wide range of stakeholders with varying levels of authority and responsibility. They may be adept at communicating with senior management and junior staff, especially when the latter may have grievances or the former wants to implement an unpopular policy. Besides having excellent written and verbal communication skills, these professionals are typically proficient in creating reports and making presentations.

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Human resources management

Candidates with expertise in human resources management can have a higher chance of success. Core areas to have knowledge in as a human resources manager include industrial relations, organisational psychology, recruitment, selection, personnel processing and data reporting. People with an educational background in human resources management may gain expertise in these areas while studying for their degree.

Administration

General administrative functions are part of a human resources manager's duties. Employers expect candidates to be knowledgeable in processing payroll, employee turnover, absence and leave. Effective human resources managers also can be adept at supervising their staff, delegating and performing other administrative duties related to their role.

Recruitment and selection

Successful human resources managers have a deep understanding of the recruitment and selection process. They have excellent interviewing skills and can identify candidates with the right combination of competences and personality traits that align best with the company's culture, work environment and strategic objectives. These professionals also understand how to keep the recruitment process fair and accessible to qualified candidates.

Coaching

Coaching skills are important for human resources managers as their work involves training and upgrading employees. These skills can help during the recruitment process, especially during the onboarding and orientation phases. It can also be useful when assisting senior executives and other managers to deal with conflict and other employee-related matters.

Advising

The human resources manager serves as an adviser to management, employees and other key stakeholders in an organisation. This advisory role requires an in-depth understanding of the company and how it works. Managers can advise management on new employment or work-related policies, implementation of updated labour regulations and provide expert advice on the right framing for a letter to the head of an employee union.

Language

The role of a human resources manager may demand fluency in several languages. In multinational companies, the human resources department may recruit staff across different countries. Being fluent in the different languages of the countries a company operates in can make it easier to work with staff.

Organisation

Human resources managers oversee a wide range of functions critical to the smooth operation of an organisation. Not only do they manage people, but they also create and implement human resources policies while maintaining cordial relationships among all stakeholders. Managing these duties and responsibilities requires excellent organisation skills.

Computer literarcy

Human resources is increasingly becoming a digitalised role. Many of the human resources manager's functions, including recruitment, payroll, employee performance and data reporting, all require technological tools. Being proficient in general and role-specific technological tools can help improve the efficiency and performance of human resources managers.

Teamwork

Working as a human resources manager requires being able to collaborate with other people to achieve common goals. Besides working with people in the department, managers may also liaise with other department heads, employees and even external stakeholders. Knowing how to leverage the strengths of other people and compromise can improve results and reduce conflict.

Related: What Is Collaboration? (With Benefits, Types and Tips)

Analytics

Many of the decisions that drive human resources functions are now based on data. As a human resources manager, being proficient in data analytics can help you gauge employee performance and other key metrics more effectively for enhanced productivity. A good understanding of data analytics can also improve the decision-making process and help managers provide more insightful advice to management on employee and labour issues.

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

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