What is a Personnel Officer?

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  • Written By: Sarah Valek
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 22 January 2020
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A personnel officer is in charge of employee relations and staffing issues. He or she is in charge of recruiting the right people for a job, determining how many employees a company needs to be efficient, and determining the best way to increase staff productivity. This person will decide when a company needs to hire people, write a job description and put out ads for job seekers.

Since this job deals with staffing, the person who does it must know what to look for in potential employees. He or she will write interview questions, go through applications, conduct interviews, and do any follow-through with potential employees. This person is in charge of training new recruits and organizing orientation sessions.

A personnel officer may work independently, with a group that is contracted out to help with projects, or in-house as an employee. He or she can specialize in a particular aspect of human resources, like training or recruitment, or be in charge of everything staff-related. The scope of responsibility in this job is based on a company’s size and needs.

Aside from recruitment, a personnel officer helps employees get their rewards and benefits and works to maintain a safe working environment. This person needs to be aware of the organization’s mission statement and ensure that all company policies are being followed. Additionally, human resource officers must ensure compliance with federal employee mandates and diversity policies.


A person in this job must strive to balance a company’s workforce by making sure the right number of people with the right skills are being used effectively. Personnel officers must be able to professionally deal with a wide variety of people. Negotiation skills and interpersonal relation skills are necessary to successfully work with people.

Not all of the job is about working face-to-face with people. A personnel officer spends a great amount of time dealing with paperwork and time sheets and must be organized and analytical. Officers also provide personal support to staff, working to make them feel comfortable and positive at their job. Employee retention is a major goal.

Most people who hold this job have a college degree related to business or administrative resources. They may also work in the armed forces, and the U.S. Marine Corps, for example, hires personnel officers to supervise and manage administration and advise over issues of personal affairs and benefits. The title is a popular European job title, but in the U.S., they are more often referred to as employee supervisors, human resources managers/officers, or administrative services managers.


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Post 4

I was interested in working as a personnel officer when I applied to college. My advisor recommended I study something in the social science field, and then go on to do a graduate degree in human resources if I was still keen.

That was great advice because by I finished I had found a new career path. I do think it's good though that you can move into this field from various academic backgrounds.

Post 3

@angelBraids - Your story is interesting but in my case I don't care what they want to call themselves. I just want to deal with people who actually have a clue!

In my company the human resource department spend way too much money on pointless motivational speakers, and not enough time on supporting staff with the smaller issues that come up almost daily.

Post 2

To pick up on the final point made here, I have a little story to tell. My old college English professor was kind of obsessed with the way language reflects culture. At least once a month someone would mention the word 'human resources' just to set him off on a rant.

His basic argument was that while the word 'personnel' was about people, 'human resources' reduced us to the level of a sack of potatoes or some other inanimate object.

At the time I didn't really understand what he meant, but since then I've had several jobs and there definitely seems to be a link between the term used and the treatment I've received!

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