HR officer

Companies need to make sure they keep up with any changes in employment law as well as developing their own policies to keep their employees happy.

As a human resources - HR - officer, also known as a personnel officer, you'll be responsible for developing policies and procedures relating to the staff employed by your organisation.



So, what will I actually be doing?

Depending on the size and type of organisation you work for, you'll have a range of responsibilities.These can be many and varied, and could include tasks such as:

  • Helping draw up plans for future personnel needs
  • Recruiting
  • Providing staff training and development 
  • Operating pay and benefits policies
  • Counselling staff about any problems they may have, either at work or personally
  • Oversee employee services such as health and safety as well as sports and social facilities

You'll also be advising management on matters like pay negotiations, disciplinary and grievance procedures, redundancy programmes, equal opportunities policy and employment law.

If you work for a very large organisation, you may specialise in one of these areas. If it's a smaller company, you'll probably deal with everything.

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The finer details...

Normally, you will work a standard 35-40 hour week. 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.

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

Money, money, money

These figures are for guidance only.

  • 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...

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

...and the bad

You may be required to work extra hours at busy times

Is there study involved?

There are no minimum entry requirements, and some people enter via routine administrative or clerical jobs in HR departments. For these, you may need several GCSEs (A-C)/S grades (1-3) or equivalent qualifications.

However, most Human Resources Officers have a Higher National Certificate or Diploma (HNC/HND) or a degree. Entry requirements for a HNC/HND are four GCSEs (A-C)/S grades (1-3) with one A level/two Highers.

A degree requires five GCSEs (A-C)/S grades (1-3) plus two A levels/three Highers. Equivalent qualifications may be accepted in either case.

For details of qualification equivalents see:

  • Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (England, Wales and Northern Ireland)
  • Scottish Qualifications Authority

An Access to Higher Education qualification may also be accepted for entry to certain courses. If you have experience in a related field, you may be able to gain recognition of your skills through Accredited Prior Learning (APL). Check with the appropriate colleges or universities for their exact entry requirements.

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

Most human resources officers 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 and development
  • 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.

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

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

To be a human resources officer you should:

  • Enjoy working with people
  • Be patient, tactful, diplomatic and approachable
  • Be able to deal with people who are stressed or upset 
  • Be able to stay calm in difficult situation
  • Have good commercial awareness
  • Have good spoken and written communication skills
  • Be confident about gathering facts and statistics and making financial calculations  
  • Respect the importance of confidentiality
  • Have good organising skills and be able to develop plans, policies and forecasts
  • Have problem solving skills to deal with disputes, grievances and staffing problems
  • Be able to work as part of a team
  • Be able to work accurately, with good attention to detail
  • Be able to use databases, spreadsheets, word processing and accounts packages


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