Updated January 2024
Human resources management (HRM) has a much larger role in business than most people realize.
When you think about HR, what comes to mind? Most likely, you’re thinking about processes like recruitment, hiring, explaining company benefits, and dealing with discipline issues.
But at today’s leading companies, HR goes far beyond these routine functions. More than ever before, human resources professionals are playing a key role in strategic planning and corporate policy. They are contributing at the highest levels, working with senior management to cultivate the most valuable asset a company has: its people.
As HR grows as an industry, so does the variety of jobs available in different areas of specialization and different levels of seniority.
What types of human resources jobs are available? What career paths can you pursue, from HR generalist to specialist roles? Here’s a look at some popular options, as well as some tips on how to transition into the field.
HR Career #1: Human Resources Assistant/Coordinator
This is an entry-level human resources job that typically requires just one to two years of experience. An HR assistant/coordinator usually reports to an HR manager, VP of human resources, or other senior staff member.
This role supports the HR management team with a variety of tasks, including:
☑️ Assisting with recruitment, selection, and hiring
☑️ Helping with employee onboarding and documentation
☑️ Coordinating group insurance and RRSP memberships
☑️ Keeping employee handbook and employee files up to date
☑️ Assisting with payroll adjustments and changes
☑️ Coordinating the vacation approval process
☑️ Taking part in performance evaluations
☑️ Helping plan and deliver staff training and improvement programs
Working as an HR assistant provides an excellent introduction to the field. This is a generalist role where you’ll gain experience in several key functions—and have the chance to explore possible areas of specialization.
Qualifications: You don’t necessarily need a bachelor's degree to qualify for this job. Some employers will accept one to two years of relevant experience, a human resources certificate, or a related diploma.
HR Career #2: Human Resources Manager
HR manager is another generalist role that touches many different functions and areas of human resources.
In smaller companies, the HR manager may be the only member of the team, responsible for everything from recruitment and hiring to compliance, evaluations, and employee relations.
In a larger organization, the HR manager may oversee a department or branch and supervise HR assistants and other junior team members.
Typical responsibilities for this role include:
☑️ Implementing an effective recruitment and hiring process
☑️ Overseeing onboarding and orientation of new employees
☑️ Ensuring a consistent employee experience across the company, division, or department
☑️ Evaluating organizational needs and developing aligned HR strategies for labour relations, compensation and benefits, and workforce efficiency
☑️ Developing/optimizing the employee handbook
☑️ Developing HR policies and procedures to ensure compliance with relevant legislation
☑️ Developing and maintaining benefits and compensation packages
☑️ Coordinating performance evaluations
☑️ Tracking HR metrics and presenting reports to senior management
☑️ Handling employee complaints and administering progressive discipline measures
Qualifications: Human resources manager positions usually require a bachelor’s degree and at least three to five years of related experience. However, some organizations will accept proven experience combined with a human resources certificate or diploma.
HR career #3: Compensation & Benefits Manager
This is a specialist HR job that focuses on a company’s rewards and benefits programs—including salary, bonuses, retirement plans, life insurance, and any other benefits offered to employees.
Compensation and benefits managers conduct salary and labour market research to define benchmarks and figure out competitive wage rates and compensation plans.
Typical responsibilities for this role include:
☑️ Determining the company’s pay structure and benefit offerings
☑️ Ensuring employee benefits policies are current, competitive, and legal
☑️ Managing third-party benefits vendors and investment brokers
☑️ Overseeing the distribution of pay and benefits information to employees
☑️ Conducting compensation surveys
☑️ Analyzing benefits programs and monitoring costs
☑️ Analyzing job duties, writing job descriptions, and conducting performance evaluations
Qualifications: You can find entry-level HR jobs in this area that require just one to two years of experience, combined with a degree or related diploma. Entry-level job titles include salary administrator, compensation analyst, and benefits administrator.
More advanced compensation and benefits positions often require five-plus years of experience and a bachelor's degree in HR or business.
HR career #4: Training & Development Specialist
This human resources job focuses entirely on fostering talent and skill-building within an organization.
HR development specialists are responsible for delivering professional development and training sessions as well as career planning services.
Typical responsibilities for this role include:
☑️ Assessing training needs by surveying and interviewing employees and consulting with managers
☑️ Designing training manuals, online learning modules, and course materials
☑️ Delivering training programs
☑️ Monitoring training programs to ensure they are effective and relevant
☑️ Selecting instructors or third-party vendors to deliver training
☑️ Organize the use of classrooms, computer labs, and training facilities
☑️ Deliver career counselling services
Qualifications: A typical entry-level position in this field would be orientation/onboarding specialist. This role would require one to two years of experience and a diploma or degree.
A training and development manager would need five-plus years of experience and a bachelor’s degree in a related field—such as business, education, human resources, or even information technology.
With more and more corporate training sessions happening online, companies are looking for HR development specialists with strong computer technology skills.
HR career #5: Recruitment Specialist
As the title suggests, this human resources job is all about attracting and hiring new employees.
A recruitment specialist focuses on developing and implementing an organization’s recruiting strategy. There are several related job titles in this area, including talent acquisition specialist, staffing specialist, and recruitment and retention manager.
This role usually involves the following responsibilities:
☑️ Cold calling and reaching out to qualified candidates online (through LinkedIn, for example)
☑️ Screening and interviewing candidates
☑️ Placing candidates in available roles, based on their skills and experience
☑️ Staying up to date on local hiring laws and regulations
☑️ Coordinating the hiring process from end to end (advertising open roles, interviewing candidates, and closing hires)
☑️ Creating and reporting on quarterly and annual hiring plans
☑️ Tracking hiring metrics
☑️ Training and advising hiring managers on interviewing techniques and assessment methods
☑️ Attending job fairs to source and recruit talented candidates
Qualifications: You can get started in an entry-level recruiter role with just one to two years of experience, a diploma, or a bachelor’s degree.
More advanced recruitment specialist jobs typically require a university degree or several years of proven experience in recruitment and staffing.
Transitioning Into a Human Resources Career
People transition into human resources careers from very diverse educational and professional backgrounds.
Many people working in human resources do not hold the CPHR (Chartered Professional in Human Resources) designation. Many do not even have HR degrees. We see people coming to human resources with degrees in education, psychology, business, labour relations, technology, etc.
In many cases, people advance into human resources positions, but lack the training needed to excel in that role.
They may have been promoted from an office administration role, or are running their own business. They are trying to build an HR policy from scratch, or struggling to understand employment laws, recruitment, performance evaluations, and how to handle discipline issues in the workplace.
If you are transitioning into human resources, additional training is key to understanding the legal, strategic, and practical dimensions of your new role.
Learn More About the Human Resources Management Certificate
Have you found yourself in a human resources role, but lack the knowledge and skills needed to fulfill your responsibilities?
Are you currently working in a management, administrative, or operational role, and would like to develop your knowledge of HR fundamentals?
Take a look at the Human Resources Management certificate delivered online by Kompass Professional Development.
This online training teaches HR essentials in compliance, recruitment and hiring, benefits and compensation, performance evaluation, and employee relations.
The course is ideal for professionals who are looking to transition into HR, or have already taken on the HR function and need additional support and training.
Click below to explore the certificate, meet the instructor, and see a detailed course list. Chat live with an admissions advisor or request free information by email.