HR administrator

As an HR administrator, your role is a mixture of admin and HR, also known as human resources and personnel.

The proportions of each will vary according to the organisation, department and your own background and talents.




So, what will I actually be doing?

You will be expected to undertake some or all of the following:

  • Be the first point of contact for all HR-related queries
  • Administer HR-related documentation, such as contracts of employment
  • Ensure the relevant HR database is up to date, accurate and complies with legislation
  • Assist in the recruitment process
  • Liaise with recruitment agencies
  • Set up interviews and issue relevant correspondence

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The finer details...

Normally, you will work a standard 35-40 hour week. However, you may be required to work extra hours at busy times.

You'll be mainly office-based, although you may have to travel to other branches if it's a larger organisation. You may also visit training providers.

Prospects are good if you're looking to progress from HR administrator up the HR hierarchy into senior HR assistant and officer/adviser roles.

You'll find HR opportunities in all kinds of organisation, including banks, local government, health services, airlines, hotelsretail organisations and manufacturing industry.

However, there is keen competition for vacancies, especially for inexperienced graduates. Gaining CIPD qualifications or NVQs/SVQs will help your promotion prospects.

Some multinational companies offer the chance to work abroad. Once you're experienced, you could also set up your own specialist consultancy in an area such as recruitment.

Money, money, money

These figures are for guidance only.

  • HR administrators earn around £15,000 to £18,000 a year
  • Starting salaries for HR officers can be between £18,000 and £25,000 a year
  • HR managers can earn £25,000 to £50,000 a year or more

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The good points...

Many organisations will encourage and enhance the HR aspect of the role for a high-calibre, committed HR administrator.

HR is also a good platform for learning about business and moving into other departments.

...and the bad

HR administration can be a difficult field to break into. You could look for interim opportunities such as maternity cover to build up experience and increase your chances.

Is there study involved?

You are likely to be a graduate with a first degree, either in HR or in a management, psychology or business-related discipline.

Alternatively, you could have previous experience either in a general administrative role or HR. For details of qualification equivalents contact the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) or the Scottish Qualifications Authority.

There are also some postgraduate personnel management courses, although you'll need a good first degree.

Most HR administrators are trained on-the-job, but many employers also expect staff to work towards the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) qualifications listed below.

As a student you can study part-time, full-time or via distance learning. When you've successfully completed a CIPD course you'll be eligible for membership.

The Certificate in Personnel Practice (CPP) provides you with a practical grounding in basic personnel skills. There are no minimum entry qualifications.

The Certificate in Recruitment and Selection (CRS) gives specialist knowledge.

The Professional Development Scheme (PDS) has four parts:

  • Core management
  • People management and development
  • Specialist and generalist personnel
  • Development and applied personnel and development

You can complete one module to gain Licentiate membership of CIPD; complete of all four modules for Graduate membership.

NVQs/SVQs are available at Level 3 in Personnel Support, at Level 4 in Personnel Management, and at Level 5 in Personnel Strategy. These are alternative qualifications for meeting some of the standards for CIPD membership.

Some BA Business Studies or similar degrees, and some postgraduate qualifications will give you exemption from the CIPD Professional Qualification Scheme. Contact CIPD directly for a list of these courses.

OK, I'm interested... But is it really the job for me?

To be a good HR administrator, you'll need:

  • Strong administration skills
  • Familiarity with business software such as Microsoft Office
  • A high level of confidentiality
  • Excellent interpersonal and customer-facing skills
  • Strong communication skills, both written and verbal
  • The flexibility and willingness to learn
  • To enjoy working with people
  • Tact and diplomacy
  • Good administrative skills
  • The ability to work as part of a team
  • The ability to work accurately, with attention to detail


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