Human resources officers/managers within a business have responsibility for the recruitment, welfare and development of its most important asset - its employees. Also referred to as HR or personnel officers/managers, the roles offer great variation and challenges.
Recruitment, equal opportunities, employment law, learning and development programmes and pay and benefit structures are just a few of the areas which human resources officers are likely to be involved with. A small employer may only have one HR manager, working across the whole organisation. Larger organisations on the other hand, may have a team of managers, with each person focusing on a specific area, including:
Employment Law - monitoring working conditions, disciplinary and grievance procedures, equal opportunities, redundancies, paternity pay and maternity rights.
Recruitment - ensuring the organisation is employing the right people, with the appropriate skills and qualifications. This may include hiring employees, producing job descriptions, placing adverts, working with recruitment consultancies, organising interviews and running assessment centres.
Training and Development - putting together an employee training programme and identifying suitable courses, to be run either internally or externally.
Salary Reviews - researching salaries to ensure they are in line with legal requirements and industry standards.
Documentation - writing employee handbooks, contracts and staff memoranda, and issuing written offers of employment or promotion.
Employee Welfare - providing counselling facilities and sports and social activities for staff.
In order to advise on the wide range of topics, they liaise with organisational managers and need to understand the specific operational needs and objectives. They may also work closely with company lawyers and trade unions.
Human resources officers typically work between the hours of 9.00am and 5.30pm, Monday to Friday. Managers with higher strategic-level responsibilities may be required to work longer hours on occasion. Part-time work, job sharing and temporary contract work may be available.
HR is typically an office-based role. However, HR people rarely work in isolation, as they spend much of their time talking and interacting with people. Some travel to visit other business sites or attend meetings and conferences when required.
HR assistants, providing administrative and record management support may start on around £15,000 a year, but can earn up to £22,000. Human resources officers can start on between £21,500 and £26,000 and managers may earn between £40,000 and £65,000 a year.
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) currently have 135,000 members in the UK. Employment opportunities exist in both the private and public sector, including:
- Financial services
- Specialist HR consultancies
- NHS trusts
- Local authorities and national government departments
Many people entering HR functions start as an assistant or administrator. For people moving into HR from other careers, experience of budgeting, financial management, office administration, organisation and teamwork is useful.
Vacancies are advertised in local and national newspapers, People Management and Personnel Today, and at specialist recruitment consultancies. The CIPD website has a careers section, providing a job search facility, downloadable careers advice brochures and listings of specialist recruitment agencies.
There are many routes to becoming an HR manager/officer, with entry requirements varying between employers. HR managers need to have an understanding of numbers for budgeting and must be able to present and communicate clearly both in person and in writing. Most employers expect around five GCSE's (A*- C), including English and maths, or equivalent qualifications.
Some employers may ask for A levels or equivalent. Useful subjects include business studies, communications, psychology, English, law and economics.
The Diploma in business, administration and finance, now available at schools and further education colleges in England, may be relevant for this area of work.
Some organisations offer HR graduate training schemes, usually providing the opportunity to study a CIPD-approved postgraduate-level qualification. For these schemes a 2:2 or 2:1 degree may be required. Degrees in subjects such as human resources, human resources management, business studies and law, may be particularly relevant, although other subjects are likely to be accepted.
Foundation degrees in human resource management or business (human resources) are available, which can be studied part time whilst working, or full time at a university or college. Entry requirements for these qualifications vary, and it is important to check with individual colleges and universities.
Human resources and learning and development Apprenticeships may offer an alternative route into this area of work.
Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.
Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.
There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Training is carried out on the job. Some organisations provide structured training schemes, giving wider business insight.
CIPD offers a wide range of professional accreditation, from NVQ qualifications up to fully recognised Chartered CIPD status. Nationally recognised accreditation is an essential requirement for many human resources roles.
CIPD Certificate Level 3 qualifications leading to CIPD Associate membership include:
Individuals wishing to embark on these courses are able to design their own flexible learning programme to suit their circumstances, with full access to tutorials, workbook and audio resources and a learner support website.
The CIPD Level 6 Certificate in Business Awareness and Advanced Professional Study (CBAAPS) is available for people moving on from a Level 3 programme and for graduates with a non-relevant degree. It is designed to ease the transition to a postgraduate programme.
Laboratory technicians carry out routine laboratory tests and perform a variety of technical support functions to help scientists, technologists and others with their work. They can work in research and development, scientific analysis and testing, education and manufacturing.
They are employed in a wide range of scientific fields which affect almost every aspect of our lives.
A human resources officer/manager should have:
Human resources officers can progress to managerial roles, and then to more senior levels such as director. Some move between employers to advance their career. Others might specialise in particular aspects of the role.
For senior positions, CIPD offers a Level 7 Professional Development Scheme (PDS). Individuals need to pass all four parts - leadership and management, people management and development, generalist and specialist personnel and development, and applied personnel and development - in order to achieve full graduate CIPD membership.
Graduate CIPD members can apply to become Chartered Members after three years' relevant experience.
Consultancy work and self-employment may be possible for highly experienced HR managers.
There are also opportunities to work abroad.
Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD),
151 The Broadway, London SW19 1JQ
Tel: 020 8612 6200
Chartered Management Institute (CMI),
Management House, Cottingham Road,
Corby, Northamptonshire NN17 1TT
Tel: 01536 204222
Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM),
1 Giltspur Street, London EC1A 9DD
Tel: 01543 266867
Institute of Directors (IOD), 116 Pall Mall,
London SW1Y 5ED
Tel: 020 7839 1233
Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC),
15 Welbeck Street, London W1G 9XT
Tel: 020 7009 2100
Additional resources for job seekers and those already in a job.