HR Managers: What They Do (and How to Become One)

HR Managers: What They Do (and How to Become One)

HR Managers: What They Do (and How to Become One) banner

Do you enjoy working with people? Are you interested in a career that allows you to help others while using your business acumen and leadership skills? If so, a career in human resource management may be right for you. In this dynamic and rewarding field, you could be responsible for everything from recruiting new employees to serving as a liaison between workers and management.

If this type of work piques your interest, learn more about the ins and outs of this compelling career choice as well as the steps toward qualifying for a role as an HR manager.

Understanding the Role of an HR Manager

If you’ve ever been hired by an employer, there’s a good chance you’ve worked with a human resource manager. You may have received training or even brought a conflict to the HR manager’s attention. However, there’s a lot more to the job of HR manager than initially meets the eye — and the duties and responsibilities of someone in human resource management are quite broad.

What Does an HR Manager Do?

Generally speaking, the primary purpose of an HR manager is to oversee everything related to a company’s recruitment, interviewing, hiring, and training. In addition, HR managers play a critical role as a sort of intermediary between employees and other members of management.

The exact scope of an HR manager’s job may vary from one company to the next. In some companies, the HR manager may also be responsible for ongoing training and performance reviews. HR managers could be tasked with maintaining employee engagement while strengthening retention. Other times, HR managers are responsible for more administrative tasks, including scheduling and payroll.

Responsibilities of an HR Manager

So, what are the actual duties and responsibilities of an HR manager? Again, these can vary slightly from one company to the next. However, some of the most common job duties in human resource management positions include:

  • Talent acquisition and recruitment strategies – Recruiting new employees to fill open positions or hiring/training from within the company
  • Employee onboarding and retention – Helping new employees receive the training they need to do their jobs successfully and working to keep company retention rates as high as possible
  • Performance management and employee development – Providing ongoing training and professional development opportunities to current employees while handling performance reviews and performance management
  • Employee relations and conflict resolution – Mediating and addressing conflicts between employees as well as handling disciplinary action as needed
  • Benefits and compensation management – Ensuring benefits and compensation packages offered to employees are fair and competitive. Compensation management may also include handling different aspects of a company’s payroll, making sure employees are paid on time and handling requests for raises or salary negotiations.

How HR Managers Contribute to Company Culture

Another vital role many HR managers take on is developing and strengthening company culture. These days, company culture is more important than ever before. In fact, 46 percent of job seekers identify company culture as crucial when deciding whether or not to apply to a particular job opening. A strong company culture can help improve employee satisfaction and retention while sparking creativity and productivity.

HR managers, then, can play a key role in strengthening company culture by reinforcing the company’s values and mission in their everyday communications with employees. This can be done by creating employee reward systems, team-building events and exercises, and other efforts to boost morale and celebrate team efforts. This responsibility requires a solid understanding of a company’s values, goals, and vision.

Skills and Qualities of Successful HR Managers

There are numerous soft skills and characteristics a successful HR manager must possess, including:

  • Communication and interpersonal skills – HR managers are in constant contact with others, be it other employees or other members of management. Being able to communicate effectively is a must.
  • Problem-solving and conflict resolution abilities – HR managers are often responsible for resolving and mediating conflicts between employees, so problem-solving skills will help with this critical job function.
  • Adaptability and flexibility – The most successful HR managers have the ability to think quickly on their feet, adapting to changes as necessary while still finding ways to do their jobs well. HR managers must often juggle many different projects and initiatives at once, so being able to adapt seamlessly from one task to the next is essential.
  • Ethical and legal awareness – Many laws and regulations go into a role in HR, so HR managers must be familiar with these and adhere to regulatory compliance standards in their everyday interactions. Successful HR managers have a strong sense of ethics and morals, too, which contribute to everyday decision-making.
  • Strategic thinking and business acumen – Working as an HR manager also requires a fair amount of strategic thinking and general business acumen. Understanding how each decision may affect the overall health of the company is a must for people in this role.
  • Leadership skills – HR managers step into an influential leadership role requiring them to motivate, inspire, and lead all company employees somehow. Leadership and people management skills can go a long way in this work.

How to Become an HR Manager

If working in talent management or HR management sounds enjoyable, you may wonder how to actually become an HR manager. Even with a background in HR, this isn’t something you can expect to transition into overnight; you’ll need not only a formal education but also some relevant experience and technical skills.

Education Foundation

A degree in business and/or human resource management is increasingly important for companies hiring this type of role. A bachelor’s degree or master’s degree is preferred by most companies, and the field of study should be related to the work performed. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need a degree in human resources, though. Many schools are beginning to offer degrees in business or business administration with an emphasis in human resource management.

Regardless, a formal degree under your belt can equip you with the foundational knowledge and essential skills needed to carry out the crucial and complex job functions of an HR manager. A degree program that covers HR management will examine key topics within the field, ranging from HR technology to diversity and inclusion.

Relevant Experience

In addition to a formal degree, some level of relevant career experience will come in handy when pursuing your first job as an HR manager. Most HR managers have previous experience working in human resources or similar roles. Leadership experience can also go a long way. Even previous work as a supervisor or shift manager can help you develop the leadership, interpersonal communication, and decision-making skills necessary to function as an HR manager.

Employers typically list in job postings for jobs in HR management whether previous experience is required and, if so, the level and amount of experience preferred.

Key Skills and Knowledge

Human resource managers often work directly with both accounting software and human resources information management software, so some proficiency in these kinds of platforms would serve you well in this role. Companies can vary greatly in the specific software and tools they use here, which is why many managers learn most of the technical skills they need through on-the-job training. Still, it helps to have some basic familiarity with these platforms and how they work. HR managers should also be familiar with hiring and recruiting platforms, as they are often responsible for hiring and training new team members.

Continuing Education and Certifications

Human resources management is a dynamic field, so it’s important to be committed to continuing your education and being a lifelong learner. Even once you graduate with your degree and begin working in the field, there will always be something new to learn in HR management.

The most successful HR managers are those who continue to improve upon their skills by attending ongoing classes, seminars, workshops, and the like. Many also pursue additional certifications to differentiate themselves from others and build upon their skills. Potential certificates to consider in HR management include:

HR managers with additional certifications or other accolades may not only have an easier time finding jobs but also be qualified for internal promotions and higher salaries.

How Much Do HR Managers Make?

Speaking of salaries, you may wonder how much the average HR manager makes. The compensation for an HR manager can depend on many factors, but according to data from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for human resources managers was $130,000 as of May 2022. However, it is also worth noting that the highest 10 percent of HR managers earned in excess of $224,000 annually — so the potential salary range is quite broad.

Factors Influencing HR Manager’s Salary

Of course, many factors can influence an HR manager’s salary, starting with the geographic region where the person is being hired. In larger cities in which the cost of living is higher, HR manager salaries may be higher as well. Likewise, the candidate’s level of experience and formal education may affect the salary of an HR manager. A candidate with a master’s degree, for example, is likely to make more than a candidate with a bachelor’s degree.

Job Outlook and Growth

The job outlook for HR managers is promising, with BLS data projecting growth of 5 percent between 2022 and 2032 alone (faster growth than average for all occupations). On average, about 15,500 openings for HR managers are projected each year over the course of the next decade.

For those interested in careers in HR management, this makes now a great time to get started. A growing demand for experienced and knowledgeable HR managers, as well as the pending retirement of some already working in the field, means there will be ample jobs available in the coming years.

Is a Career in HR Management Right for You?

Working in human resources management can be an excellent career path for those who have strong communication and interpersonal skills as well as conflict resolution abilities and business acumen. Even with an abundance of these soft skills, however, the most successful HR managers have a solid educational foundation with essential technical skills and a dedication to lifelong learning.

If you’re interested in embarking on a career as an HR manager and leveraging your leadership skills, start with an HR management degree from Johnson & Wales University. We offer both a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a human resource management concentration and a Master of Business Administration in Human Resource Management — both of which are available online for your convenience.

For more information about completing your degree online, fill out our Request Info form, call 855-JWU-1881, or email [email protected].

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