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Human Resources Careers

Updated on December 25, 2009

The personnel specialist is responsible for recruiting, interviewing, and testing prospective employees for the company.

Organizations with a considerable number of employees generally require the services of personnel administrators to handle the many aspects of the employer-employee relationship. Among the functions of personnel administrators are the interviewing, testing, hiring, and assigning of job applicants. Personnel specialists also assess the employer's need for new workers or the most efficient way of reapportionirig present ones, and they try to assign employees to positions that most fully utilize their capacities. They establish training programs and wage and promotion schedules, administer insurance and other benefit programs, evaluate employee grievances, plan recreation and safety programs, and develop methods for improving employee incentive and morale. Many larger companies have extensive personnel programs for recruiting qualified high school and college graduates. Such work often involves traveling to various campuses to interview the graduates. Another frequent activity of personnel departments is the editing and preparation of company house organs, which range from newsletters to elaborate magazines.

The scope of an individual job in the personnel field is normally determined by the size of the given organization. A company with 150 employees, for example, may have only one person handling all personnel functions. In such a case, the person may have the general title of office manager, and his duties may include such other responsibilities as handling the purchase of furniture and supplies and supervising clerical workers. In larger companies, functions become more specialized: One person may interview and test applicants for only certain types of jobs or may do only recruitment work. In companies with unionized employees, specialists in labor law and industrial relations are needed to represent the company in negotiations with labor unions and to enforce the various stipulations of union contracts. In large industrial companies, personnel specialists conduct psychological and industrial research on employee behavior and apply their findings in solving problems that arise from production quotas or working conditions.

The majority of personnel specialists are found in private companies and industries. However, there are also many opportunities for personnel careers in government agencies and in such nonprofit institutions as colleges, hospitals, and religious and charitable groups. In addition, some experienced personnel administrators open independent management-consultant firms or operate private employment agencies.

Educational Requirements

While there are varied programs of preparation for personnel work in Human Resources, in general the trend is to require a college degree. Many colleges and universities offer courses in personnel management and labor and industrial relations, as well as related courses in business administration. Courses that are helpful to prospective personnel administrators include economics, statistics, public speaking, psychology, sociology, political science, and English. For those interested in advancement to top positions in personnel and industrial relations, special graduate courses in these areas are desirable.

Most companies have a period of training for the personnel workers in their Human Resources deparmtment, depending chiefly on the size of the company and the nature of its business. Many companies encourage their personnel workers to take specialized courses in personnel management beyond the training they have already received.


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