The huge misconception about HR is that it’s a hire and fire role. People want to build a career in HR so that they can be in control and bully other colleagues at work. Another cliché I hear from people is “I’m a people person” or “I have passion!” What does that even mean to you?
What’s HR all about?
HR personnel help the business (an organization) achieve its objectives through the people – who are the biggest asset of a business. Managing machines is not as difficult as managing people who can talk and revolt if you’re not doing things right. So ensure you’re moving into HR for the right reasons if you want to get the satisfaction you desire.
Some of the functions HR Professionals perform includes Recruitment/Selection and Onboarding, Learning and Development, Performance Management, Compensation and Benefit, Documentation, Exit Management, Organizational Development, and Change Management.
You can decide to be a Generalist or a Specialist in any of the HR Functions mentioned. A lot of people are generalists, but being a specialist is also good. Specialists are highly sought after and the pay is juicier because they are scarcer than Generalists.
A social science degree is preferred but it’s not compulsory. If you’re about to choose a degree, I would advise you do a social science course e.g. Industrial Relations and Personnel Management. This is because it’s easier for people with the required educational background than people who do not have it. If you have gotten a degree (doesn’t matter the course) and you have made up your mind to build a career in HR, I would advise you register with CIPM and start writing the exams. As someone who didn’t have a background in HR (I studied Chemical Engineering), those exams really taught me about the basics of practicing HR in Nigeria.
Apart from learning, you also get to network with other HR personnel in your study centre. I would advise you to join a nearby chapter, go for meetings and be involved. Networking is one of the fastest ways to get a job in HR.
Other certifications you can take as time goes on: aPHRi, PHRi, SPHRi, GPHRi, SHRM or a Masters in HR/Industrial Relations.
I’ve highlighted a few skills an H.R Professional should have or build over time to be successful:
The ability to communicate effectively and be void of ambiguity. Oral and written communication is key! The ability to listen well is also key!
The ability to be self-organized and deploy it towards helping the business is important. HR Generalist does a lot of things. If you’re not organized, you will drop the ball.
This is where you have to put the ‘human’ in HR. This is very critical so you don’t become a tyrant.
This is the ability to create a good experience for your customers (the staff members you manage). They are your clients and you’re not a ‘god’.
You will need to make a lot of tough decisions. For instance, making recruitment decisions would involve a lot of thought process, so you have to develop that over time.
HR Practitioners usually take up multiple projects in the organization which they have to see to completion.
I can tell you for free that HR is a rewarding career that allows you make an impact on the lives of people and also the business. The best part is seeing your efforts and initiatives drive business growth and reduce turnover, thereby saving cost and seeing the business succeed. The ability to balance your policies to suit management and staff will help you succeed. It is financially rewarding and it’s a good career path in which you can grow.
I wish you the best in your HR journey.
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