Job descriptions and industry overviews

Human resources officer: job description

21 Jun 2023, 15:38

Human resources (HR) officers are responsible for hiring, developing and looking after employees.

HR officer sitting across a table from two employees

What does a HR officer do? | Salaries for HR officers | Typical employers of HR officers | Qualifications and training for a HR officer | Key skills for a HR officer

HR involves functions such as recruitment, training, payroll, and health and safety. HR officers (also known as HR advisers) can be generalists who carry out a broad range of duties, or specialists who focus on a particular area. Specialisms include employee relations, careers coaching, health and safety and headhunting. HR generalists are more common in small organisations while larger companies may hire specialists to take on one of these responsibilities as their entire role. In very small organisations, HR tasks may be split between several people.

Typical duties include:

  • recruiting new staff
  • making sure that staff get paid correctly and on time
  • managing pensions and benefits administration
  • approving job descriptions and advertisements
  • looking after the health, safety and welfare of all employees
  • organising staff training
  • 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
  • advising on disciplinary and employee performance problems
  • negotiating salaries, contracts, working conditions and redundancy packages with staff and trade union representatives.

At HR officer level, you’re likely to work standard office hours (9.00am–5.00pm). However, if you’re in a small team or work alone, you may need to be on call (available to respond to emergencies outside working hours) or stay late at busy times and when difficult situations crop up. For example, if you’re involved in payroll, you may need to work late to ensure all staff are paid on time.

Graduate salaries for HR officers

An HR officer in a large organisation can earn between £30,000 and £38,000, while graduates on HR graduate schemes can earn up to £34,000, according to Hays Recruitment. Most HR graduate schemes enable you to work towards Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) qualifications, which in turn will help you boost your salary.

Typical employers of HR officers

Typical employers include:

  • professional services firms
  • large retailers
  • banks and finance organisations
  • charities
  • government and local government organisations
  • manufacturers
  • health organisations
  • media and entertainment companies
  • construction and property firms.

Vacancies are advertised on and by careers services. You can also find jobs advertised on specialist HR websites such as Personnel Today and People Management. National jobsites often advertise entry-level roles. There are also graduate training schemes offered by many organisations in this area of work.

Qualifications and training required for a HR officer

Entry-level roles tend to be open to graduates of all disciplines, although a degree or higher national diploma (HND) in a relevant subject such as HR management or business may be required for some posts. Experience in education or psychology can help you get into roles in training and development, while a background in law could give you an edge when applying for employment relations roles.

As you progress in your HR career, some employers may also ask that you have a professional qualification in HR management. A list of courses is available on the CIPD’s) website. A postgraduate qualification in HR management may be advantageous.

The CIPD provides offers opportunities for continuing professional development (CPD) and can help to show your commitment to your field. You can become a member by achieving a CIPD qualification or through experience assessment, where you use your experience from the past three years to gain professional recognition.

Experience is often essential to get into HR, but it doesn’t need to be directly HR related. Work experience in which you have worked with a range of people, solved problems, created processes or managed projects or people could all be valuable. You could also move into HR following a general management training scheme.

You can also start a career in HR by completing a relevant apprenticeship, such as a level 3 apprenticeship in HR support.

Key skills for HR officers

Skills valued in this sector include:

  • commercial awareness
  • effective organisational skills
  • the ability to form working relationships with people at all levels
  • teamworking and interpersonal skills
  • diplomacy and the ability to deal with situations that are stressful to others
  • meticulous attention to detail
  • numeracy
  • excellent communication skills.

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