If you’re a people person looking to use your skills in a company, a Human Resource Manager may be the perfect career fit for you.
This article will ensure you know exactly what you’re getting into, and what you can look forward to.
Let’s get started!
Sarah is the Director of People and Culture at BGIS, a global business services company.
How did you end up in this role?
Sarah began in Administration before progressing into a HR role.
Now, she manages stakeholders (both clients to the company and other workers) and regularly meets with business leaders in the company to understand what they are trying to achieve.
“Every day is really different — some days are really about hiring the right people, and some days are about keeping current staff and training them well,” she said.
Studies and Experience
Sarah began working in HR when she studied a Diploma in Management at TAFE.
“I then used my Diploma to move straight into second year in a Bachelor of Business majoring in Human Relations,” she said.
Interestingly, Sarah has always studied online whilst working at the same time. She is now studying a postgraduate law degree, and believes it is important that HR managers have good legal understanding!
What made you want to work in this industry?
Sarah wanted to work in this industry because she loves helping others and being around people. She thinks that Human Resource Management is a rewarding job that lets you assist others in their own careers!
What is a Human Resource Manager?
Human Resource Managers organise and direct workplace relations. They are often responsible for the hiring and firing of staff, but also manage events such as training days and outings.
Those working within Human Resources also oversee initiatives to improve workplace morale and ethics, such as weekly lunch days or a plastic free office.
In smaller companies, HR Managers may work on their own. Their days are centred around discussion with other managers and organisation of the company’s activities.
Roles and Responsibilities
For Sarah, who looks after a team of around 20 people, a typical day begins with a HR team meeting before she speaks with other company bosses and deals with any queries they may have. She generally spends time working on events and management initiatives.
Other tasks that HR Managers may have to do include the development and implementation of WHS and equal employment opportunity programs, representing the company when negotiating with unions and employees, and monitoring employment costs and productivity levels.
Which industries can this career be found in?
HR Managers can be found in many industries and are common in large companies. They are specifically prevalent, however, in businesses which ‘sell’ people rather than products.
Think solicitors, IT specialists, accountants and the like!
What jobs do people sometimes confuse this with?
People sometimes think Human Resources and Public Relations are very similar. This makes sense, given to abbreviations of HR and PR.
HR is largely focused on hiring, internal relations and management of company ideas. PR, however, deals more wth external media, press and the overall company image.
Characteristics and Qualities
According to JobOutlook, the biggest characteristics needed to be a HR Manager are management of personnel resources, active listening, monitoring, critical thinking and reading comprehension.
In order to manage personnel resources, HR managers need to motivate and develop staff as they work and ensure they’ve chosen the best job for people. They also need to actively listen, by really listening to others and not interrupting — asking good questions too!
In terms of monitoring, HR managers will keep track of how well work is progressing and to make changes as required. They should critically think in order to solve problems, and think about the pros and cons.
Lastly, they’ll need to have great reading comprehension as they have to read a lot of work-related information and understand it quickly — especially when it comes to giving out contracts to new employees and whatnot.
Steps to Becoming a Human Resource Manager
What should you study?
Though HR Managers aren’t always required to have a degree, it will really improve your industry knowledge and employability if you do.
At some universities, you study a Bachelor of Human Resources. However, most universities offer Human Resources as a Major for a Bachelor of Business or a Bachelor of Economics. Most of these degrees last 3-4 years.
Many HR Managers also supplement their undergraduate study with a Masters in Law or Economics.
Check out the some of the Business and Economics degrees on offer:
How long does it take to become a Human Resource Manager?
After your degree, you will be ready to work in the HR field. However, to be a Manager, most people must work for at least two years in a lower or less specialised position before working their way up to overseeing a team.
So if you see yourself working as a HR Manager, just keep in mind that you’ll need to develop some experience first before getting into management.
Industry Knowledge and Software
Many HR Managers have one system which deals with finance, recruitment, education and the like.
However, Sarah suggested it is great for students to know EndBorder for recruitment, Skillport for learning systems and ADP for payroll purposes.
What will this career look like in the future?
How in-demand is this career?
According to JobOutlook, Human Resource Management has a very strong growth rate. There are currently 57,100 people in this career throughout Australia.
Are there opportunities to specialise?
HR covers a number of different areas. Whilst many managers often oversee all areas, you can specialise in Recruiting, Payments and Benefits, Training, Legal matters or other areas specific to each organisation.
|Annual Salary||Future Growth||Skill Level Rating|
|$128,000+||Very strong over the next 5 years||Very high skill|
Human Resource Managers make an average of $2,464 a week, according to JobOutlook.
HR Managers work an average of 46 hours a week in a career that requires a very high skill level.
AI is beginning to be used in the HR industry. Though some fear this will create a lot of job loss (especially for entry level jobs), there are also some benefits.
For example, AI can be used to screen resumes and automatically rule out unsuitable candidates, or to facilitate large staff surveys. AI can’t really remove the ‘human’ aspect of HR, but it can automate some of the more mundane and repetitive tasks, so that a HR Manager can focus on other things.
The Future of this Industry
In keeping with a steady growth rate, Sarah suggested that HR is now far more respected by companies than it was when she started out.
“It’s taken a little while, but CEOs are starting to understand the importance of HR… particularly when you examine rising data and staffing numbers,” she said.
She believes HR Management is now given a more holistic role in the company, though once it was responsible simply for “hiring and firing”.
“We are getting there as an industry,” Sarah believes.
Best Thing & Worst Thing
What do you enjoy most about this job?
Sarah also likes that HR is “weirdly quite big on justice. If people do the right thing, they get rewarded.”
What do you feel is the worst part of this job?
“You spend a lot of time with people all week, but at the end of the day you are HR and sometimes people don’t fully trust you, because you may be called to fire someone or just change the company direction,” said Sarah.
Advice for Aspiring Human Resource Managers
What do you wish you had known before you started working in this career?
Sarah told us, “I didn’t know that it can be quite a lonely job… you sometimes find out things that you aren’t in a position to share with people.”
Sarah also thinks people should understand that HR isn’t just “fluffy”. It requires legal and contract understanding.
Why should people consider taking on this career?
Sarah believes this career is a perfect combination between law, psychology and being a people person; three things that school leavers are often passionate about.
If you are someone who is passionate about all of the above, maybe becoming a HR Manager is your calling!
HR Managers often work long hours, but can usually do so from home. Depending on the company, managers may be able to work remotely all the time, with meetings via Zoom calls.
What is the workplace culture like?
Sarah believes HR teams are collaborative and “big on supporting each other.”
“Everyone is so genuinely passionate about people,” Sarah concluded. So if you enjoy being part of a team, a career in HR could be an option for you — just remember that there are some tough calls you will have to make, but at the end of the day, the job can be really rewarding.
Lucinda Garbutt-Young hopes to one day be writing for a big-shot newspaper… or maybe just for a friendly magazine in the arts sector. Right now, she is enjoying studying a Bachelor of Public Communication (Public Relations and Journalism) at UTS while she writes on the side. She also loves making coffees for people in her job as a barista, and loves nothing more than a sun shower.