With its ability to prepare you for a career as a human resources specialist, generalist or manager, a master’s degree in human resources is one of the top degrees for the highest-paying business careers. To excel in HR, though, you need more than a degree. You need the right personality and characteristics to handle the important and sometimes delicate issues that can arise in the field. In addition to your work revolving around people, you should have the interpersonal and communication skills that make you a “people person” as well as strengths in other areas, like resolving conflicts, making decisions, identifying talent and teaching and training others.
Literally Specializing in People
A human resources specialist is, in a literal sense, a people person. The job revolves around the people who serve as an organization’s greatest resource in achieving its objectives. Most of the core tasks expected of a human resources manager, as reported by O*NET, involve people. For example, you’re focused on the people of your organization when you field employee questions, resolve problems in the workplace, handle disciplinary matters in the workforce, take part in any hearings or investigations pertaining to personnel issues, negotiate contracts and bargaining agreements and recruit new workers.
Which level of human resources role, as well as your specific job function, plays a part in determining the ways in which you will most commonly work with people. Human resources specialist and generalist roles are more in line with employee relations, while HR managers fit more closely into the company’s administration and management and have supervisory duties, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported. If you work as a recruitment specialist, you will focus more narrowly on finding new talent to bring into the company and will get to meet and interact with a lot of new people as you search for job candidates. In more generalist roles, you will build deeper relationships with people within the company.
Good employees are a valuable commodity in business, so companies reward HR personnel with salaries well above the median wage for all occupations. Human resources specialists earn a median wage of $61,920, and HR managers make a $116,720 median salary.
What It Means to Be a “People Person”
Students who consider themselves a people person often naturally gravitate toward the human resources side of the business or business education world. Both in the classroom and in the workforce, their interests lie more in working with individuals than in financial reports and projections – although they may still work with numbers in capacities like reviewing employee productivity, negotiating salaries, and projecting staffing needs.
What exactly does it mean to be a people person? The term conjures up thoughts of individuals who are great at interpersonal communication and relationship-building, who have a sincere level of caring and compassion for colleagues and employees and are able to use those feelings to help solve problems. Certainly, these interpersonal and communication skills are among the most important qualities for success in a human resources specialist role, according to the BLS. However, researchers have argued that true “people skills” are much more nuanced and varied than most people realize. They consider interpersonal facilitation to be only one dimension of being a people person, identifying team leadership skills, relational creativity and interpersonal influence as other dimensions of people skills that are valuable in the workplace.
Practically speaking, being a people person affects both your aptitude and your level of interest in a position. In addition to being good at working with others, a people person will likely prefer this kind of job role over one that keeps them more isolated in the workplace.
The Traits of a Successful Human Resources Professional
IMAGE SOURCE: Pixabay, public domain
Your natural people skills are a great asset in a human resources career, but part of studying HR is learning how to apply those skills to professional tasks. You can be the most outgoing and friendly person in the world, but those attributes alone won’t qualify you for success as a human resources specialist. You need to develop skills in conflict management, decision-making, talent acquisition and workforce training.
Some form of conflict in the workforce is inevitable. Whether the dispute is among employees or between an employee and management, these problems should be resolved promptly and fairly to minimize the harm they cause to the company and to ultimately create stronger relationships. Your natural people skills can help you convince each side of a disagreement to listen and compromise, but learning the practical means of negotiating solutions is critical to reaching your full potential as a conflict resolution facilitator in the workplace. Classes on conflict resolution may cover different types of workplace conflicts, effective solutions to the most common conflicts and approaches to identifying and communication problems and solutions.
In your personal life, perhaps you go with your gut when making decisions. And while that intuition can still prove valuable in the workplace, there’s a lot more to making human resources decisions than trusting your instincts. Often, master’s degree programs in human resources will devote some course content to learning how to make sound business decisions, including financial decisions and other data-driven decisions.
Many master’s degree programs in HR cover talent acquisition, which includes every step in staffing and recruitment, from assessing talent to undertaking the hiring process. Depending on your job responsibilities, you may need to provide a great deal of employee training in your career. Workforce training and development is such a crucial part of HR that some colleges offer specialized master’s degree programs in this aspect of human resources that include coursework in adult learning in the workforce and in the development of employee training programs.
HR isn’t an ideal field for individuals who prefer to work alone and avoid human interaction, but the best way to polish your people skills is through practice. Being shy, an introvert or averse to public speaking doesn’t mean you can’t succeed in HR if you want to.