HR specialists are integral to carrying out the variety of functions of a human resources department. Some may specialize in recruiting or labor relations, while others are generalists and perform many functions. Their importance in organizations is one reason jobs for HR specialists are expected to increase 21 percent in the next decade, according to May 2011 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. All told, you must have excellent interpersonal, organizational and decision-making skills to perform this job.
Employee Selection Duties
One of your primary duties as an HR specialist is employee selection. This includes working with company managers to determine their employment needs, then collaborating with them to create job descriptions. It may be your job to place "help wanted" ads or work with recruiters to find qualified candidates. Managers may rely on you to screen and schedule interviews with applicants, then assist during the hiring phase. You may call candidates and negotiate salaries, for example.
Administrative duties may also be part of your job as an HR specialist. You ensure that all employees fill out required forms, including I-9s to prove their legal status to work in the United States and W-4 forms, which determine amounts to be deducted from paychecks for taxes. You may create training manuals on company policies and procedures; assist managers in maintaining employee records and performance reviews; and help coordinate medical and life insurance programs for employees. If you work for a unionized company, you may be involved in mediation or negotiating sessions between management and union members.
Most HR specialists work full-time in offices, with occasional overtime and weekend work. If you don't work for a consumer products or oil company, or other manufacturer or supplier, you are likely to be employed by an HR recruiting firm, according to the BLS. Some companies outsource the HR function. HR specialists occasionally travel to colleges or job fairs to recruit employees.
Education and Training
HR specialist positions generally require a bachelor's degree in human resources, business or a related field. A high school degree and significant experience may also qualify you a position. You may get certified as an HR specialist to demonstrate your competence in many areas of human resources.
An HR specialist earned an average $58,890 a year as of May 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You could earn more than $94,700 a year if you are among the top 10 percent in earnings. As for industries, you would earn the highest salary in the petroleum and coal products manufacturing, at $82,700 per year. You'd make $80,160 and $79,490 per year working for a software publishing company and the executive branch of the federal government, respectively. The top-paying states or districts for these professionals were the District of Columbia, California and Connecticut -- at $82,950, $69,150 and $68,340 per year, respectively.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Human Resources Specialists
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment Statistics: Human Resources, Training, and Labor Relations Specialists, All Other
- Education-Portal.com: Human Resource Specialist: Job Description and Education Requirements
- Diploma Guide: Human Resource Development Specialist Careers: Job Description & Salary Info
- HR Directory: Human Resources Specialist (Performance Management / Employee Relations / Labor Relations)
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services: I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification
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