The 6 Must-Have Skills for a Career in HR

Why you should consider a career in HR

Ever think about a career in human resources? If you’re majoring in communications, sociology, psychology, managerial economics — or any humanities major, really — then a job in the human resources field might be just right for you.

Human resource management is a great career choice for those interested in human interaction and the inner-workings of organizations. It’s also a constantly growing — and often lucrative — field.

Fast facts about the HR industry:

  • Human resource managers have a median salary of more than $110,000.
  • The number of human resource management jobs is projected to increase by 9 percent between 2016 and 2026, which is above-average growth compared to most other professional fields, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • Candidates with a certification or master’s degree in human resource management have better job prospects compared with candidates who have solely an undergraduate degree.

6 must-have skills for a career in HR

Human resources skills will help you navigate board room meetings.
These six skills will help you navigate human resources tasks and boardroom meetings. (Getty)

Free HR Info Session Webinar

Attend a free, online information session on February 28, 11 a.m. to noon, to learn more about UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education’s Human Resource Management Certificate Program. If you can’t attend the live webinar, you can access the video from a previous session.

The Human Resource Management Certificate Program takes 15-to-21 months (taking one or two courses per quarter), costs less than a graduate degree and offers a convenient hybrid program of both online and classroom instruction in Sacramento. The program includes courses on:

  • performance management
  • ethics
  • compensation
  • talent acquisition
  • technical skills

Regardless of your major, HR practitioners need to possess a particular set of skills, explains Anthony Reyes, an instructor in the Human Resource Management Certificate Program at UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education. Reyes says to be a successful HR professional, you must be:

  1. Resourceful
  2. A good communicator
  3. A multitasker​
  4. Approachable
  5. Analytical
  6. Strategic

While you can gain the groundwork to excel in these skills in your undergraduate coursework, additional training in specialized skills will absolutely help prepare you for the human resources profession.

HR is very broad and has many sub-disciplines you can specialize in, adds Reyes.

“For example, as an HR director, I’m responsible for employee training, starting with orientation and onboarding of new staff and continuing with ensuring staff have the resources they need, and recruitment, overseeing the attracting and selection of new employees,” says Reyes.

Human resources teacher Anthony Reyes
Anthony Reyes graduated from UC Davis with a degree in communication and linguistics, and he now works as a human resource management instructor at UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education. 

Reyes, an Aggie himself, graduated from UC Davis with a degree in communication and linguistics. Reyes began his path to a career in HR while working at Nugget Markets in Davis, first as a bagger, then in training where he discovered his passion for HR and professional development.

“What initially drew me to HR was the employee training aspect,” says Reyes. “I love training and teaching people. As I’ve advanced my career, I really enjoy the strategic aspects of HR and being able to use ‘people analytics’ to help the organization make more informed decisions.”  

After obtaining his Master of Human Resource Management (MHRM) from the University of Hawaii, Reyes began working in human resources in Hawaii and eventually moved back to the Sacramento area, where he is now Human Resources Director for Chapa-De Indian Health in Auburn, California, in addition to teaching HR Strategy and Business Success at UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education.

How to get HR training

Human resources training could get you promoted.
Stand tall with human resources training to support your presentations. (Getty) 

As Reyes learned along the way, further training is highly recommended if you want to land a career as a human resource professional. This can be accomplished through a Master of Human Resource Management; however, a certificate program can be a faster and less costly alternative. 

Craig Gottwals, another UC Davis alum and instructor for the Human Resource Management Certificate Program, praises how the program emphasizes the well-roundedness and practicality HR professionals need.

“The best HR folks can talk numbers with a company's chief financial officer, discuss court cases and statutes with the organization's in-house counsel, and [talk] business metrics with the CEO,” says Gottwals. “The program does a very good job at mixing educational development with real-world, practical, day-to-day business examples.”

So, if you have an interest in how organizations interact and operate on the inside, a career in human resources might be right for you — however you decide to get there.

Tyler McLaughlin is a junior at UC Davis, studying managerial economics. He works as an editorial student assistant at UC Davis Continuing and Professional Education.


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