Human resources (HR) refers to the people employed by an organization, as well as the department responsible for managing them. While it may seem odd to refer to people as “resources,” it’s an apt term. Hiring personnel with the necessary skills and fostering an organizational culture that motivates your employees to work together effectively is as fundamental to the success of a company as financial or material resources.
Finding and hiring the right people, or “talent,” is thus a top priority for companies in any industry, and especially in highly competitive sectors like tech and finance. And this in turn makes the HR department of a company hugely important, with responsibilities covering everything from recruiting to hiring and onboarding to ongoing talent management and performance evaluation.
Because the work of recruiting and managing people is so important, experienced HR professionals are always in demand. High-level HR roles also pay well, making this career path a promising long-term opportunity if you have excellent people skills and a keen sense of what makes teamwork work.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for a human resources manager is $113,300 per year, and these jobs are expected to grow faster than the national average. As a managerial position, the responsibilities associated with this role are wide-ranging, including not only the direction of employee recruitment and hiring process but also overseeing employee benefit programs, setting policies and resolving disputes on HR issues like equal employment opportunity and sexual harassment, and supervising support staff.
Careers in human resources may start with a role as a human resource specialist, such as a recruiter or “head hunter.” These employees are responsible for finding, screening, and interviewing applicants for open positions at a company, and as such they are often the first member of the HR team that potential hires meet. As such, recruiting specialists need superb people skills as well as a willingness to travel to job fairs, college campuses, and other places to find the right talent.
Yes! Human resources is fundamentally about interpersonal “soft skills,” and Coursera’s industry-leading online learning platform includes video lectures, live office hours with instructors, and even group projects that give you engaging opportunities to develop these talents. Indeed, as more and more HR work is conducted remotely, learning to evaluate talent and potential hires through video interviews is becoming an increasingly valuable skill.
And, by offering courses and Specializations in human resources from top-ranked institutions like the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Minnesota, and the University of Michigan, Coursera gives you the opportunity to take advantage of the flexibility and low cost of online learning without sacrificing the quality of your education.
The skills and experience that would help you learn HR would likely start with having a high school diploma or GED equivalent, as well as having basic skills in computers, communications, math, and more. The ideal learner might also have at least two years of college experience or an associate's degree, but a 4-year college degree is generally not required. A person who is learning HR might also have a keen interest in working with people, and how to motivate them to become better employees. If you work well with others in teams, that could count for skills and experience to succeed in HR. The people who have succeeded in leading teams are likely good candidates for HR work, as they show the ability to organize, motivate, and build consensus. These are qualities that are suitable for anyone interested in learning HR.
The types of people that are best suited for roles in HR are those who are passionate about helping people achieve their best. HR professionals are usually warm, compassionate humans, with a good ear for listening and an empathetic understanding of a person’s value within an organization. Along with these traits, HR professionals are also efficient, well-organized, and work well with others. They can also deal well with pressure and stress. These overly personal human traits are what differentiates HR people from data scientists or sports agents, for example.
If you like to help people and make a difference in an organization, then learning about HR may provide solid benefits for you. When you learn HR, you may find that you possess soft people skills that may translate well to HR. These soft skills may include being a good listener, with good communication skills, solid time management focus, and fundamental computer aptitude. Having these qualities may help you to find work in HR. Eventually, you may use your HR learning and background experience to help companies hire new employees, plan employee activities, and even work on employees' company benefits plans. Human resources professionals are often integral to a large company’s operations, as the corporate need is often strong to keep employment levels at peak efficiency.
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