Get into HR >> Browse Articles >> Certification


STEP 1: Learn about HR

STEP 1: Learn about HR


March 01, 2008

What is Human Resources?

Human Resources is a rapidly evolving function in today’s business environment. HR departments, formerly known as Personnel, dealt largely with the administrative function of an organization, such as handling employee benefits questions or recruiting, interviewing, and hiring new staff in accordance with policies established by top management. Today’s human resources workers manage these tasks, but, increasingly, they also consult with top executives regarding strategic planning. They have moved from behind-the-scenes staff work to leading the company in suggesting and changing policies.

In an effort to enhance morale and productivity, limit job turnover, and help organizations increase performance and improve business results, these workers also help their firms effectively use employee skills, provide training and development opportunities to improve those skills, and increase employees’ satisfaction with their jobs and working conditions. Although some jobs in the human resources field require only limited contact with people outside the human resources office, dealing with people is an important part of the job.

Get Into HR with Expert Advice

HRPeople has the tools to help you get started in the HR field of your choice
Get Advice: Ask a HR Pro 
Learn: Guide to Entering HR 
Quiz: Find Your HR Specialty

Join HRPeople Now!

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Who Hires Human Resources?

There are many types of human resources, training, and labor relations managers and specialists. In a small organization, a human resources generalist may handle all aspects of human resources work, which requires an extensive range of knowledge.

In a large corporation, the director of human resources may supervise several departments, each headed by a manager who most likely specializes in one human resources activity, such as employment and placement; compensation and benefits; training and development; or labor relations. The director may report to a top human resources executive.

The responsibilities of HR generalists can vary widely, depending on their employers’ needs, but most companies and industries have a need for a human resources function and professional. There is also a growing industry of HR consultants, specializing in HR subject areas such as compensation, leadership coaching, business process outsourcing and recruitment. Therefore as an HR professional, you could be hired by a company, by a consulting firm, or as an independent consultant. You could even have the opportunity to start your own HR practice.

Five Books to Get You Started

There are a number of books on general human resources, as well as on HR specialty areas. It is also important as a prospective HR person to brush up on your business basics. Here are some recommendations to get you started:

1) Human Resources Essentials: Your Guide to Running and Starting the HR Function

2) HR – The Business Partner

3) Finding Keepers: The Monster Guide to Hiring and Holding the World’s Best Employees

4) Executive Coaching for Results: The Definitive Guide to Developing Organizational Leaders

5) 10 day MBA

<< Go Back: Menu

Do You Get Talent Management?

Poll: How do you feel about crying at work?

Poll: How do you feel about crying at work?