What skills and competencies do you need for a career in HR?

Last updated: 25 Jan 2023, 13:38

Interested in a graduate career in human resources (HR)? Want to know more about the skills and competencies you need? A unique resource available from the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) tells you all you need to know.

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If you want to know more about the skills and competencies you need to get a job and get ahead in HR, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), the professional body for HR, can offer a unique resource that identifies exactly what makes a successful HR professional.

The HR Profession Map clearly sets out the activity, behaviours and knowledge required at different stages of seniority. It is based on research with employers from all over the world and is freely available on the CIPD website.

Read our HR officer job description to learn more about what it takes to work in HR.

What kind of person do you need to be to get ahead in HR?

The HR Profession Map sets out the following personal attributes:

  • Decisive thinker. Able to analyse information quickly and use it to make robust decisions.
  • Skilled influencer. Able to gain commitment from different quarters in order to benefit the organisation.
  • Personally credible. Expert in both HR and commercial issues, and takes a professional approach.
  • Collaborative. Able to work well with a range of people both within and outside of the organisation.
  • Driven to deliver. Focused on delivering best possible results for the organisation, and shows determination, resourcefulness and a sense of purpose in achieving this.
  • Courage to challenge. Has the courage and confidence to speak up and will challenge others even when met with resistance or unfamiliar circumstances.
  • Role model. Leads by example.
  • Curious. An inquisitive, open-minded type, who seeks out new ways to support the development of the organisation.

What areas of work will you master in a graduate career in HR?

The HR Profession Map identifies eight main areas of work:

  • Service delivery and information. Managing HR information professionally.
  • Organisation design. Managing structural change and ensuring the organisation is appropriately designed.
  • Organisation development. Ensuring the organisation’s workforce, culture, values and environment will enable it to meet goals and perform well in the future.
  • Resourcing and talent planning. Making sure the organisation attracts people who will give it an edge. Managing a workforce with the balance of skills needed to meet short and long-term ambitions.
  • Learning and development. Making sure that people at all levels of the organisation have the skills needed to contribute to the organisation’s success, and that they are motivated to grow and learn.
  • Performance and reward. Making sure that reward systems – principally pay and benefits – are fair and cost-effective. Ensuring critical skills, experience and performances are rewarded.
  • Employee engagement. Supporting employees in maintaining a positive connection with their work, colleagues and the broader organisation, with a particular focus on good relationships between staff and their line managers.
  • Employee relations. Ensure that the relationship between the organisation and staff is managed within a clear and appropriate framework.

Create your own personalised HR career record

You can create your own personalised HR Profession Map to keep track of your career progression. The ‘My HR Map’ career development tool allows HR professionals to record their skills and strengths, and offers a feedback report setting out advice on how to develop. It is currently only available to CIPD members, but a version for non-members will be available in due course. The assessment matches the individual’s professional experience to four bands of competence within the different areas of work and approaches to working.

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