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There are several human resources career objectives that can meet the requirements of a variety of job-seekers, from university-trained professionals with an eye on the executive suite to specialists who do one thing but do it very well. Human resources (HR) professionals generally make a respectable living and achieve professional fulfillment as well. Those who work for small organizations often will be responsible for the entirety of the HR function, and are called generalists. In larger HR departments, some professionals have the opportunity to specialize in areas critical to the organization; in many growing enterprises, the first HR function to be performed by a specialist is salary and benefits administration. Senior leadership teams in larger companies typically include an executive charged exclusively with direction of the HR function.
Most human resources professionals learn a wide variety of functions that are critical to an organization’s functioning. In addition to recruiting and hiring, HR professionals should have a working knowledge of salary and benefits administration, communication, performance management, training and coaching, succession planning, employee relations, team building, and organization development. The ability to develop and exercise leadership skills is another of the human resources career objectives, but HR professionals generally will not find themselves leading or supervising large groups of people. Instead, a great deal of the modern HR function in contemporary organizations consists of strategic planning and working with individual departments to plan and meet their needs. To perform these functions well, the HR professional must understand leadership well, and be able both to exercise and teach it.
The ability to specialize can be another of the human resources career objectives. Many mid-sized and even small organizations employ specialists in salary and benefits administration; larger organizations may employ a number of specialists within this area, concentrating on payroll and on administration of the various benefits plans a company may offer. Recruiting is another common area of specialization within an HR department.
Some goals are not realistic human resources career objectives. For instance, while HR professionals are generally well-compensated and can achieve senior executive status within an organization, their counterparts in sales and manufacturing generally earn more and are more likely to be selected for top positions, such as president, CEO and COO. In addition, those who wish to travel a great deal in their work should probably avoid human resources, as HR professionals do not generally travel much unless they have supervisory responsibility for field offices.
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