5 Skills to Spark Your HR Career

“If we build the people, they’ll build the business,” said Brownie Wise, the saleswoman who made Tupperware a household name. Like Tupperware, great HR professionals are transparent, strong and organized. And as Wise illustrates, whether it’s through hiring, training and development, company culture or employee benefits, people are pertinent to the HR profession. But what does it take to truly excel? If you’re just starting your HR journey, here are 5 skills to become a well-rounded professional and thrive in your career:

Employee Relations:

Secure relationships between managers and their team members are core to successful organizations. Supporting and strengthening these connections not only boost company culture, but build bonds that make people excited to come to work.

As you start your career, take time to step out of your office or away from your desk and really get to know people. While it’s important to work hard, learn and grow as your career kicks off, concentrate on connections, too. Try to make yourself visible and approachable to everyone at your company. Be kind, caring and culture giving to build relationships with coworkers, managers and executive leadership. When someone approaches you at your desk, put aside your work, put down your phone and give them your full attention. Grab coffee or lunch with people you’d like to get to know better. When you understand the goals and obstacles someone is facing, it helps foster relationships and enhances your career.

Helpful resource: “How to Earn the Trust of Your CEO”SHRM, Tony Lee and Dana Wilkie

Software Savvy:

Technology touches nearly every part of our lives, including work. Great human resources software is transforming the HR landscape, so learning the ins and outs of your company’s platform is essential. Becoming software savvy means developing expertise in the software your organization uses, staying curious and keeping up to date on advancements in the technology. Many HRIS systems are moving toward comprehensive platforms for training, benefits, compensation, recruiting and payroll in one shared space.  Take advantage of getting exposure into as many modules as possible.

Helpful resource: Transforming HR Through Technology, SHRM, Richard D. Johnson and Hal G. Gueutal

Clear Communication:

You communicate with potential employees, executive leaders, managers, colleagues and vendors both written and verbally. It’s essential to do so in a clear, confident and caring way. You’re the voice of your company’s culture, so adapting an effective communication style is key. A core (but often overlooked) part of communication is listening. To become a better HR professional, practice active listening when communicating with members of your organization. When an employee comes to you with an idea or concern, think about their perspective before you respond, and repeat back a synopsis of what they said to ensure you understand. Listening intently and demonstrating empathy will show you care and propel your career.

Helpful resource: Toastmaster’s International

Analytical and People Skills

Although technology is increasing exponentially, the heart of HR is people. Benefits, compensation, hiring and talent management all link back to the importance of your employees. Creating a stellar culture requires HR specialists to hone their people skills while paying attention to the data.  Evaluating what’s best for the organization requires the use of both sides of the brain. Quantitative, left-brain thinking is needed to analyze the numbers, understand local, state and federal laws, and digest data. The right-brain comes in to play when generating creative solutions and communicating the meaning of the numbers to the rest of the organization in plain English.

Helpful Resource: “People Analytics,” Deloitte, Laurence Collins, David R. Fineman, Akio Tschida


Although not every HR professional is responsible for onboarding, learning how to successfully welcome new employees will help you become more well-rounded. After all, creating seamless transitions for new hires can be tricky. How can you help them feel at home and navigate their new job? Helping new hires adjust to your company culture and their new role requires empathy and an ability to read people. Effectively fostering relationships and offering support not only boosts productivity, but it can reduce costly turnover. Providing the tools they need to quickly mesh with the team is a strategic process that has a big impact on new hire’s ability to thrive in your organization. Each culture is unique, so it’s important to discover what’s best to engage new hires and what they expect.

Helpful Resource: “What’s Missing From Your Onboarding”


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