Today's Human Resources (HR) professionals are responsible for hiring and firing employees; creating organizational charts; shaping corporate culture after a merger or acquisition; managing employee communications; settling employee disputes; creating benefits programs; navigating government regulations; dealing with legal issues such as sexual harassment and occupational safety; setting up policy and programs for measuring performance; and compensating, recognizing, and training employees.

In other words, HR does not consist of a single activity or function but refers to everything related to the employer-employee relationship. The responsibilities and activities of HR practitioners vary depending on the size of a company. At a small company, the HR director will usually wear many hats, whereas at bigger companies, you will find both generalist and specialist HR roles.

Skills

Skills needed for a career in HR
  • Rapport building / relationship management
  • Ability to maintain confidentiality
  • Ability to balance employee and management viewpoints
  • Ability to demonstrate fairness
  • Strategic thinking
  • Team orientation
  • Analytical skills
  • Customer service

Degrees and Certifications

Degrees and Certifications in this industry

HR Certification Institute - HR Certification PHR
The Professional in Human Resources (PHR®) certification is designed for the HR professional who

  • focuses on program implementation
  • has tactical/logistical orientation
  • is accountable to another HR professional within the organization
  • typically has two to four years of professional (exempt-level) work experience in all HR disciplines, but whose experience lacks the breadth and depth of a more senior-level HR practitioner  
  • has not yet had progressive and increasingly complicated HR work experience
  • has responsibilities that focus on the HR department rather than on the whole organization
  • Contact our Industry Advisor for Human Resources for more information about this certification


SPHR

The Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR®) certification is designed for the HR professionals who design policy, have the highest level of accountability in the HR department, and are highly experienced HR professionals. Contact our Industry Advisor for Human Resources for more information about this certification.

GPHR
The Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR®) certification is designed for the HR professional who has international HR responsibilities which span national borders, understands globalization vs. localization, designs worldwide policies, and administers overseas HR programs and policies. Contact our Industry Advisor for Human Resources for more information about this certification.

 How to Get Started

4 steps to get you started in Human Resources
  1. Find an internship in an HR department. Look for administrative work in HR, many large and mid-sized departments regularly hire interns to help
  2. Join an organization for HR professionals
  3. Keep up with news and trends related to the human resources industry
  4. Join an on-campus organization like:

Resources

Research, get experience, and get connected to contacts in HR

Industry Research

Experiential Learning

  • Conduct research with a faculty member on a topic that relates to HR
  • Idealist Nonprofit/HR internship postings
  • Participate in Take a Patriot to Work Day, a one-day job shadowing event the first Friday in November, to shadow a HR professional. If that date doesn't work, utilize Mason CareerLink via HireMason to find professionals who are willing to host a job shadow.

Job & Internship Search

Professional Associations

Job Functions

Human Resources Specialist

Human Resources Specialists recruit, screen, interview, and place workers. They also may handle human resources work in a variety of other areas, such as employee relations, payroll and benefits, and training.

Human Resources Manager

A middle management position that may require overseeing specialists responsible for several distinct areas in a division of a company. Strategic work may be involved such as planning HR policy and setting procedures.

Compensation and Benefits Manager

Compensation Managers plan, direct, and coordinate how and how much an organization pays its employees. Benefits managers do the same for retirement plans, health insurance, and other benefits an organization offers its employees.

Training and Development Manager

Training and Development Managers plan, direct, and coordinate programs to enhance the knowledge and skills of an organization's employees. They also oversee a staff of training and development specialist.

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Meet Your Industry Advisor

Charlotte Strauss

Charlotte Strauss, Human Resources Industry Advisor
Make an Appointment