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How to Become a Human Resources Specialist

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Regardless of what industry it is, the most important asset in any business is its human capital. Human resources ensure that this asset is nurtured and supported in a work environment. A functioning Human Resource Specialist is very important to the success of any business and here is a complete guide on how to become one. However, before we go further, you need to understand what Human Resources mean.

What do we mean by  Human Resources?

Human Resources evolved from the term “personnel” in the bid to ascertain to that the people who make up the workforce of an organization are its most important asset.

Human resources refer to the function in an organization that deals with the people that work in the organization and the issues that involve these people. These issues can be training, compensation and benefits, recruitment, hiring and onboarding of employees, etc.

Who is a Human Resources Specialist?

A Human Resources Specialist is an expert with knowledge and skill in one or many fields of Human Resources. The size of the organisation a Human Resources Specialist works for will determine the kind of work they do. Large organisations can afford to have different specialists handling different aspects of the Human Resources department and perform specific tasks. However, if you choose to pursue a career as a Human Resources Specialist, the responsibilities you will most likely perform are discussed below.

Human Resources Specialist

Roles of Human Resources Specialist

  1. Employment and Recruitment: This is one of the most important functions of a Human Resources Specialist. Recruitment is the process of attracting qualified individuals for a job role and then identifying and selecting the best candidate for that job. As a Human Resources Specialist, you will work with the Hiring Manager to draw out the criteria the ideal candidate must meet and work with a private recruiter and examine job boards to find employees, attract qualified employees and match them to the jobs, coordinate relocation if need be.
  2. Labour and Employee Relations: This means that you will serve as the mediator between employees and management. You will also handle all employee-related grievances and negotiate with unions over contracts. When there are disputes among the employees in your organisation, it will be your responsibility to resolve them. Finally, you will direct employee health and safety programs.
  3. Training and Development: It is the duty of the Human Resources Specialist to organise and conduct the orientation of new employees and provide training and education for staff. The materials, workshops, and the training required is determined by the Human Resources Specialist.
  4. Job Analysis: As a Human Resources Specialist, it will be your duty to identify and document job descriptions, requirements and how important they are. You will use data to develop training materials, procedures and determine employee compensation. You will also use available data to develop job titles their descriptions and application materials.
  5. Benefits and Compensation: Human Resources Specialists prepare benefits to fit each employee’s needs. As a Human Resources Specialist, you will prepare salary packages and establish bonus and stock options plans, as well as develop payment structure and serve as the liaison with insurance companies.

Skills of a Human Resources Specialist

  1. Employee Relations: Every successful business thrives on secure relationships between employee and employer. And it is the professionals like Human Resources Specialists that support those connections. As a Human Resources Specialist, you must be able to identify and resolve employee issues as they arise because doing this creates a more satisfying work environment for employees and employers alike. This area is relatively broad in the Human Resources field, everything from labour disputes to taking care of employee benefits packages can be tied to it. Essentially, it comes down to your ability to resolve conflict and be an advocate for both your employer and its employees.
  2. Onboarding: Employee enrolment is not cheap, and it takes an effective onboarding process to reduce the cost. Onboarding refers to the process that allows new employees to seamlessly adjust to the social and performance aspects of their new job quickly and smoothly. Most businesses are looking to hire Human Resources Specialists who can bring recruits up to speed to increase the chance that they will settle in happily and successfully into their new jobs in the long run.
  3. Expert use of Human Resources Management Software (HRMS): HRMS (also known as Human Resources Information System) is a connection of human resources and information technology through software. It is a form of human resources software that pulls together several systems and processes to ensure the easy management of human resources, business processes, and data. With a sound knowledge of this, Human Resources activities and processes will occur electronically, reducing the workload and creating more efficiency for Human Resources Specialists. Specialized tools may appear different from organization to organization, but most offer core functionality that helps Human Resources processes run smoothly.
  4. Performance Management: Performance management is the way a company involves its employees in improving effectiveness towards the accomplishment of company goals, according to the S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM). There are performance management tasks that fall under this umbrella, such as setting expectations for employees to meet, monitoring their performance, developing their capacity to perform and rating their performance. This skill heavily relies on good communication and interpersonal skills.
  5. Teamwork and Collaboration: Teamwork and collaboration involve a group of people working together to complete a shared goal. As a Human Resources Specialist, you need to be able to pull individual efforts of employees to achieve a goal and collaboratively to complete a project.
  6. Scheduling: Businesses admire Human Resources Specialists with scheduling skills because many situations require prioritizing tasks on a team or company calendar. As a Human Resources Specialist, you should be able to create a plan that allows everyone in your company to achieve their goals.
  7. Customer Service: Without doubts, you will need multiple management and leadership skills to carry out your duties effectively. However, customer service skills are a large part of resolving issues in the workplace. Human Resources Specialists spend lots of time in conflict situations. This means that you will need more than social skills to handle these conflicts.
  8. Project Management: This is the practice of initiating, planning, executing, supervising, and closing the work of a team. It is carried out to achieve specific goals and meet specific criteria for success at the specified time. This is an important skill to possess as a Human Resources Specialist since you will handle several projects for your company.
  9. Worker’s Compensation: Human Resources Department in a company handles incidents of work-related injuries or illnesses. Every company has a plan of action and compensation for employees who are injured on the job, under state and federal laws. As a Human Resources Specialist, you need to understand the laws regarding worker’s compensation and how to help the employee and the company navigate the compensation process.

Human Resources- Onboarding

Educational Requirements

For a career as a Human Resources Specialist, you will need a Bachelor’s degree in Human Resources, Business Administration, or any related field. This means that your secondary school education will be tailored to subjects that provide a background on these disciplines.

The next ladder on your career path is enrolling for Human Resources/ Business Programs at an accredited University or Tertiary Institutions.  Below are some commendable ones, as well as the relevant programs they offer.

  1. Middlesex University in the United Kingdom offers a Human Resource Management BA Honours degree. The tuition for international students is £13,400 and it comes with an option to study full-time or part-time. Part-time is 6 years, full time is 3 years or 4 years with a placement. The school has the course accredited by the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development, and this means you can look forward to a professional level of membership of CIPD when you graduate.
  2. Dublin Business School in Ireland offers a BA (Hons) Business degree. The tuition fee for international students is €9,850. The degree is available in full-time study mode for 3 years. The school designed the program to give students a structured business education to provide a solid foundation for success in a business career.
  3. Lancaster University in the United Kingdom offers a Management and Human Resources BSc Hons. The tuition for international students is £19,474. The degree is 3 years full-time and will give you a critical understanding of the world of work and organisations.

Stages of career development in Human Resources

  • Entry-Level: Benefits Specialist – Placement Specialist – Negotiations Specialist
  • Mid-Level: Compensation Manager – Hiring Manager – Labour Relations Manager – Training Supervisor
  • Senior Level: Director of Employee Benefits – Employee Relations Director – Director of Human Resources Development

Job Outlook for a Human Resources Specialist

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), human resources specialist employment is projected to grow 5 percent from 2018 to 2028. This is about as fast as the average for all occupations. Human resources specialists will be needed to handle increasingly complex employment laws, benefits and healthcare coverage options. The most growth is projected to be in the professional, scientific, and technical services industry.

Careers Similar to Human Resources

Famous Individuals in Human Resources

  1. Rabi Adetoro: Adetoro is the Head of Human Resources at MTN Guinea Bissau. Rabi is an experienced business and Human Resources leader with over 15 years of work experience, running across the Telecommunications, FMCG and Financial Services industries. Her expertise is in the area of Human Resources Strategy, Stakeholder Engagement, Global & Cultural Awareness, Learning & Development, HR Business Partnering, Recruitment & Selection, Data Analytics, and Change Management. She is certified in Strategic Workforce Planning, Adult Learning and Project Management. You may want to get familiar with her if you intend to pursue a career in Human Resources.
  2. Emmanuel Michael: Michael is the Head of Human Capital at Letshego MFB Nigeria. In his previous position, he was the Interim CEO & Head of Human Resources. He has 15 years of experience in human resources management practice. Some of the companies he has worked for include: Accion Microfinance Bank, African Sun, and Starwood Hotels & Resorts. He was among the 100 Most Influential Global HR Leaders (2018), and 101 Global HR Heroes (2019) awards.
  3. Eyitayo Ogunmola: Eyitayo is the Country Director of Utiva, a social entrepreneur, project manager with expertise in project developments. He has worked in the United States, South Africa and has been a part of over 20 projects across 4 countries. He has also implemented government institutional strengthening programmes, international development frameworks, TVET and tech projects.

Human Resources Specialist


The average salary of Human Resources Specialists in the United States of America is $60,870 (2018 estimate). The best-paid 25 percent made $80,870 that year, while the lowest-paid 25 percent made $44,480. (

The average salary for a Human Resources Specialist is £30,149 per year in the United Kingdom. (

The average Human Resources Specialist salary in Canada is $50,427 per year or $25.86 per hour. (

A Human Resources Specialist in Nigeria typically earns around 169,000 NGN per month. Salaries range from 77,700 NGN (lowest) to 269,000 NGN (highest). (

Postgraduate options for Human Resources Career

  1. Loughborough University in the United Kingdom offers an MSc Human Resource Management degree. The tuition for international students is £21,900 and the degree is only available in full-time study mode. The duration of the programme is 1 year. The programme has the backing of  Chartered Membership of the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD). Apart from this, it is an excellent option for individuals interested in furthering their career in human resource management.
  2. The University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom offers an MSc Human Resource Management degree. The tuition for international students is £21,600. The duration of the programme is 1 year full-time. This programme will provide a high standard of knowledge and understanding of the current practical, intellectual and policy challenges facing practitioners in the field of human resource management.
  3. Humber College in Canada offers a Human Resources Management graduate certificate program. The tuition for international students is £10,310 and the program duration is one year. The program covers all the key functions of Human Resources. This includes employment law, labour relations, training and development, pension and benefit plans. It also includes occupational health and safety, compensation, performance management, recruitment and selection, and human resources planning.

Professional Certifications

  1. Professional in Human Resources (PHR): The certificate is ideal for human resources professionals who are a couple of years into their human resources career and are looking for advanced development. The application fee for this certificate is $100 and the examination fee is $395.
  2. Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR): The certification is for seasoned Human Resources professionals looking to demonstrate their industry knowledge. This is human resources certification is designed for people who are looking to advance their careers toward more leadership roles. The application fee for this certificate is $100 and the examination fee is $495.
  3. Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP): The certificate is a human resources certification offered by the Association for Talent Development (ATD). It’s designed specifically for HR professionals who work in employee learning and performance. This certification is perfect for someone who is a few years into their career. It is equally ideal for those looking to move into a management position. The examination fee for ATD members is $900 and $1,250 for non-ATD members.

There you go! If there are areas you will like to get more clarifications, feel free to send me a mail. I’ll be glad to help.


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