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What is Human Resources?
Human resources is an area of study and practice that prepares individuals for a career in business through the management of people, benefits packages, hiring practices, and the influencing the direction of policies that affect employees. Increasingly, human resources works with business administrators in determining business practices and how to better manage employees and their expectations, which in turn has led to an expanding role in the workplace.
A degree in human resources may obtained at various levels of education with some institutions providing programs that begins at the baccalaureate level. Such programs are relatively new, and focus on the increasing importance of human resources in the workplace.Currently human resources as a specialization is often pursued primarily at the graduate degree level and is designed to offer growth in knowledge, abilities and skills to those already operating within the human resources field. This is an interdisciplinary degree combining social sciences, behavioral science and business.
Some courses that may be offered include:
- Planning and Development
- Compensation and Benefits
- Labor Law
- Employee Health and Safety
- Human Resource Management
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Human resource employees work in almost every industry and are responsible for hiring, firing, benefits and recruitment. Certification is available to those who seek to increase their skill set and earnings potential, but is not necessary. Over time the job has expanded to include various important tasks within the business environment.
These tasks include:
- Increase Productivity
- Enhance Morale
- Improve Performance
- Limit Turnover
Additionally, human resource workers may choose to specialize in a particular area of human resources. Such individuals will perform tasks as outlined by their specialization, utilizing specific skills and knowledge obtained through training to complete their assignments and perform their duties. Specializations are beneficial for individuals and businesses as they allow focus on specific areas without burdening an individual by having them deal with a large number of tasks in a variety of functions.
- Employment Interviewers: Responsible for the hiring of individuals to positions within a given company. Interviewers will conduct interviews with candidates and will suggest candidates to employers based on the results of the interview.
- Labor Relations Specialists: Responsible for developing contracts, discussing and evaluating employee grievances, working with labor unions on disputes, and assisting in determining wages, salaries, health care packages, pensions and more.
- Placement Specialists: Responsible for identifying individuals that match the needs of companies. They are also known as headhunters. These individuals are typically privy to positions recently opened and not yet advertised, often seeking out qualified individuals to quickly fill the hole left by an the departure of a previous employee. Primarily specialize in higher level management positions, though some work at placement for middle and low level positions.
- Recruitment Specialists: Responsible for identifying and vetting talented individuals through postings, job fairs, campus visits, and more. These individuals look for potential employees to fill out entry level positions, typically reviewing and hiring students out of college. Additional responsibilities typically include verifying information given on applications, contacting references, and making job offers.
- Human Resources Generalist: These individuals fulfill many of the above stated roles in their day to day routine. They are generally employed by smaller companies due to necessity and convenience. These individuals have a strong understanding of the different facets of human resources, but do not specialize in any single part. Such individuals will have a multitude of skills due to the needs of the company.
Job Growth, Salary and Related Fields
Jobs in human resources are expected to grow, although automation through computers and new technologies may limit some of that growth. Overall qualified individuals should be able to obtain work, particularly in larger organizations that require large human resources departments in order to maintain daily operations. The average salary for someone working in human resources varies widely based on position and specialization. For example, human resources managers average $96,000 per year where job analysis specialists average $54,000 per year.