Human resources professionals play a key role in any organization, where they maintain and manage every aspect of the business as it relates to employees and working conditions. Duties differ from one company to another but large or small, each duty and task is essential. Understanding the day-to-day responsibilities of this career will help you decide if human resources is the right path for you.

Basic Administrative Support

Basic administrative duties form the backbone of human resources functions. Every detail about an employee, such as pay scale, special accommodations, disciplinary actions and job descriptions are constantly tracked in hard copy and electronic files. The tasks are primarily performed by entry-level HR professionals, who are HR assistants or HR clerks. These individuals retrieve, update and organize files. They also handle phone calls and monitor the front desk, passing messages to and from clients and employees inside and outside the company. In some cases, assistants also handle payroll — provided they have some background in payroll or accounting.

Recruitment and Selection

Hiring employees is a common day-to-day human resources function. Recruiters — also known as recruitment specialists — focus on tasks that include screening resumes, conducting phone or personal interviews, contacting references, posting job advertisements and offering jobs to successful candidates. This role requires professionalism, objectivity and knowledge of applicable labor laws to avoid discrimination.

A recruiter is usually a mid-level position, requiring one to three years of experience or more, depending on the organization's standards. They may also be aided by assistant recruiters, who function in a similar fashion to recruitment specialists.

Policies and Procedures

As organizations change, so do their policies and procedures, which affect hiring practices, disciplinary action, and health and safety. In many cases, the task of updating policies and procedures falls to an HR generalist, who not only handles these issues, but may also be responsible for a vast majority of the HR department's daily functions. A generalist's role is so broad; it is a common practice for specialists in each department to work under a generalist's guidance. As a result, significant experience — at least five to 10 years — is required.

Pay Deals and Labor Relations

Unionized organizations require HR professionals who can negotiate with union representatives. Their job is to be diplomatic to arrive at fair deals with union leaders or settle disputes, such as strikes. Day-to-day responsibilities include dealing with union grievances, creating contracts, establishing wages, handling employee benefits and maintaining a good rapport with employees to minimize conflict. These people are referred to as labor relations specialists. Considering the complexity and responsibility involved, such positions usually require five to 10 years of experience in a unionized environment.