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Human resources (HR) officers are responsible for hiring, developing and looking after employees. This involves functions such as training and monitoring performance.

Some employers offer financial assistance and study leave to enable employees to gain an approved CIPD qualification.

What does a personnel officer do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

HR officers can be generalists who perform a broad range of duties, or specialists who focus on a particular area. Specialisms include employee relations, careers coaching, health and safety and headhunting. If you want to find out about all of the specialisms on offer, head to the HR areas of work section.

Typical responsibilities include:

  • recruiting, training and developing staff
  • making sure that staff get paid correctly and on time
  • pensions and benefits administration
  • approving job descriptions and advertisements
  • looking after the health, safety and welfare of all employees
  • organising staff training sessions and activities
  • monitoring staff performance and attendance
  • advising line managers and other employees on employment law and the employer's own employment policies and procedures
  • ensuring candidates have the right to work at the organisation
  • negotiating salaries, contracts, working conditions or redundancy packages with staff and representatives.

While a general HR officer will take on a mixture of these responsibilities, larger organisations often recruit specialist staff to take on one of these responsibilities as their entire role.

Read our article on whether a career in HR is right for you to find out more about what this career involves.

Typical employers of HR officers

Any organisation will require a HR officer. Smaller companies may have only one HR officer, while larger companies and public sector organisations will have HR departments.

Typical employers can include:

  • Manufacturers
  • Retailers
  • Banks
  • Local authorities
  • Industrial organisations
  • Charities
  • HR agencies

Vacancies are advertised at TARGETjobs, in careers services, national newspapers and in specialist publications such as Personnel Today, People Management and their respective websites. Recruitment agencies, local newspapers and job centres often advertise immediate/junior vacancies. There are also graduate training schemes offered by many organisations in this area of work. Take a look at our list of employers who offer HR graduate training schemes.

Qualifications and training required

A degree or higher national diploma (HND) in a relevant subject such as HR management or business may be required for some posts. However, some HR graduate schemes welcome applicants from any degree discipline.

It is possible to enter a career in HR by completing a relevant apprenticeship, such as a higher apprenticeship in HR management. To find out more about how you can get into this career via a school leaver route (eg a school leaver training programme), see the business section, of TARGETcareers, our website aimed at school leavers.

Some employers may also ask that you have a professional qualification in HR management. A list of courses is available on the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s (CIPD’s) website. A postgraduate qualification in HR management may be advantageous.

Membership with the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) offers opportunities for continuing professional development (CPD) and can help to show your commitment to your field. You can become a member by obtaining a CIPD qualification or through experience assessment, where you use your experience from the past three years to gain professional recognition.

Relevant experience is often essential and can be gained in any commercial area through placements or vacation work. It may be necessary to enter the profession at a junior level, or to move into HR work following a general management training scheme.

Key skills for HR officers

  • Commercial awareness
  • Effective organisational skills
  • Ability to form working relationships with people at all levels
  • Teamwork skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Meticulous attention to detail
  • Numerical skills
  • IT skills

Read our article on the skills and competencies required for a career in HR to find out more.

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In Partnership

This content has been written or sourced by AGCAS, the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services, and edited by TARGETjobs as part of a content partnership. AGCAS provides impartial information and guidance resources for higher education student career development and graduate employment professionals.

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