What does an HR Officer do?

Carol Francois

The primary role of the HR officer is to provide support to supervisors and management surrounding human resources issues. A human resources (HR) officer works in the human resources department of a medium to large company. He or she is typically responsible for assisting the human resources manager with operational activities, recruitment, orientation, data management, and support.

One responsibility of an HR officer is to review resumes of potential job candidates.
One responsibility of an HR officer is to review resumes of potential job candidates.

The human resources department has two client groups: management and employees. Both groups have specific needs that must be met to ensure the smooth operation of the business. For example, employees need information about tax forms, benefits, policy, employment law, and other issues. Supervisors need information on dealing with difficult situations, discipline, sick leaves, and other items that impact their department.

HR officers will interview potential job candidates.
HR officers will interview potential job candidates.

Operational tasks typically completed by an HR office include posting job descriptions, reviewing resumes, assisting with interviewing applicants, and sending follow-up letters to applicants. All HR officers must be trained on company policy, employment standards, and operational guidelines. An important part of this role is providing advice to staff and supervisors on policy, rules, and business practices.

HR officers typically deal with employee paperwork needs like tax forms, benefits, policy, employment law, and other forms.
HR officers typically deal with employee paperwork needs like tax forms, benefits, policy, employment law, and other forms.

In many firms the HR office is responsible for providing orientation sessions to new staff, informing them about policy, organizational structure, workplace code of conduct, and other relevant information. These sessions are sometimes organized together with the benefit information session or staff training. Working together with other departments, coordinating services, and presentation skills are all important in this job.

HR officers track employee absenteeism.
HR officers track employee absenteeism.

People who enjoy working with others, are focused on the details, and can work in a deadline-oriented environment report the greatest satisfaction as an HR officer. The role of HR officer is one of central communicator. They are responsible for staying current with government legislation, procedures, and requirements.

Compliance with company policy, government rules, and employment law is part of the HR officer’s responsibility. He or she must stay current, reviewing both proposed and approved changes. The fines for non-compliance are very high, both in terms of dollar amounts and in employee satisfaction.

A career as an HR officer requires dedication to continuing education. The rules and regulations are constantly changing, and it is necessary to invest time and effort to stay current. Career advancement in this field typically requires further education in management or certification as a human resources specialist. This career is becoming more technology driven, as almost all companies have moved to computerized human resources and recruitment management systems.

A human resources officer may conduct group interviews to determine which candidates should be evaluated further.
A human resources officer may conduct group interviews to determine which candidates should be evaluated further.

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Discussion Comments


How would you understand human resource management in relation to rules and regulations that govern HRM in a given work place? I want the elaboration regarding this concept.

The field of HRM is greatly influenced and shaped by the state and federal laws governing employment issues. Indeed, regulations and laws govern all aspect of human resource management. What is the rationale behind this?


@Suntan12 - I can just imagine. I had a friend that entered the HR field as a human resources assistant and eventually worked her way into an HR generalist position.

She continued getting various professional HR certifications that allowed her to earn more money and work for companies with larger HR departments.

Usually the larger the company the higher the HR salary and more prestigious the position is. She started her career earning $28,000 and now earns about $75,000 a year.

While my friend loves her job, she does feel that it can be stressful at times. She said that the hardest part of the job was maintaining the constant amount of paperwork which was really critical because it was proof that the employees received the HR guidelines and were given various training seminars regarding topics such as sexual harassment, and cultural sensitivity training.


@Sneakers41 - I used to work as an HR manager and I have to agree that it is nice when new people come onboard. I think that the downside of having an HR career is that if your company is having financial problems one of the first departments that the company considers automating is the HR department.

This is an area where companies can save a lot of money and outsource the function to another firm. There are so many outsourcing companies out there that specialize in every HR function that is not hard to do.

I also think that keeping accurate records is important especially when you are faced with a possible termination. Sometimes companies are extra sensitive to terminations and look for more documentation than normal in these cases.

Companies are always concerned with potential lawsuits so that is an area that every HR manager has to deal with carefully.


I just wanted to add that I use to work in the staffing industry as a recruiter and when many people in the staffing industry get tired of the selling aspects of the recruiting position they seek to work an HR job for a single company.

The transition to an HR recruiter is easy because like in a staffing firm you are handling multiple open positions and having to fill these jobs. You are also conducting referencing and interviewing job prospects for an open position.

While the sense of urgency is stronger in a staffing company because of the compettitive nature of the business and if the agency does not fill the job another one will.

This is why many companies that hire HR recruiters look favorable upon people that have staffing industry experience. I think recruiting is a fun job because it is nice being able to offer someone a job and most people are really happy to see you.


I think that being an HR officer is not a very easy job. I've only interacted with HR officers as employee and not management but have witnessed how stressful of a job it can be.

I worked in an educational institution and basically saw that there was a lot of pressure on the HR manager and officer. The higher management was placing a lot of responsibilities on them and basically looked to them to resolve any management-employee issues.

At the same time, employees looked to the HR officer to communicate their needs and expectations to management. I just saw the HR staff often being stuck in the middle and trying to help both sides. That's why I don't think that it's a very easy job.


I think that people with business, administration and psychology do well in this career field. My sister is an HR officer and she has a bachelors degree in business administration. She doesn't have a masters degree but she has been doing this job for more than ten years.

I think that as with most careers, HR careers need education but also experience. In fact, I'd say that most employers will probably prefer HR officers with more experience. The way I see it, you might have a PhD in something but if you don't have experience, you will have a lot of difficulty. As long as you can keep up with the expectations of the job, a bachelors degree can be sufficient. If you want, you can get a masters degree in management or administration to sort of certify your skills in this field.


The responsibilities of a human resources officer varies somewhat depending on the employer. I've been working as an HR officer for two years. I take care of hiring procedures and orientation of new employees.

But I'm also required to help develop new programs relating to management and employee performance. For example, right now I'm working on a staff appraisal system. We want to both reward staff members who are doing an excellent job but also to encourage them to perform even better.

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