Jun 5, 2006

Human Resource Management as a career choice

Get to know HR

I often have been posting about things related to HR and OD and related topics, when it suddenly dawned on me that some of my readers are still students and might not know what it's like in a HR department, what skills you need and what are the different kind of jobs are available.

So here's my lowdown for those of you considering a career in HR.

What is HR?

Human Resources is the discipline of study of human behavior within organizations. The field comprises study of individual behavior, group behavior and organizational behavior. As a field of study, OB is the backbone of Human Resource Management.

So it's not common sense?

Unfortunately, while everyone seems to think HR is common sense, in reality it is not. HR people without any knowledge of human motivation, perception, identity and behavior are doing great harm to their organizations and fellow employees.

Seriously, in lay terms, what do you guys do?

In lay terms, HR people are responsible for attracting, retaining and developing people to their organizations.

The people who attract people to organizations are known as recruiters, and they are HR people with the jobs that are very 'sales and marketing' in nature. They scour your resumes, your job sites and these days, even your blogs to find those great people that are needed to make their company successful.

However, they just can't offer you any salary. The people who set salary and salary bands within the organization based on the job families within the organization and ensuring industry parity are the compensation & benefits experts. These HR guys love working with numbers and crunch data on excel sheets and talk in their jargon that has a lot of "percentile, median, etc" words thrown in them.

After an employee comes on board, they come under the ambit of the HR Generalist (also called Business partner, Employee Relations, Unit HR, etc.). The job is fairly simple, they solve your day to day queries reagrding policies and processes. They also are the guys you run to for your goal setting, performance management issues. Their primary client happens to be the business and they analyse a lot of employee data and advise the management on business unit specific HR issues.

The development of the employees is spearheaded by the Training or Learning function within HR. This team also comprises a lot of technical and business trainers sometimes in certain industries. In other industries or companies it might be outsourced to a large extent. The training group's job is to track the skills of various employees, do the training needs identification for them (if a competency model is in place in the organization) and ensure that training is delivered that is useful for the business and work with the management to follow up and check if behavioral impact of high cost training at least is there.

So do you want to be a HR professional? Which role described above excites you most?

Do you have any additional questions?