A human resources specialist works within your HR department and handles specific duties as assigned by your department manager. These duties vary, depending on company needs, from interviewing and hiring to benefits and compensation. This position is often an entry into human resources and, depending on company needs, can have one or multiple specialties within the department. There are many advantages to this position; however, specializing also brings some disadvantages for these HR professionals.
Human resources specialists have a wonderful opportunity to learn and become expert in their area of specialization. If they are assigned as a recruiting and interviewing specialist, for example, they can practice and become better at staffing in their organization. However, while they are devoted to this discipline, they do not have the opportunity to learn other HR positions, including benefits and training, and cannot broaden their knowledge of the complete human resources function. Specialization produces detailed technical knowledge at the expense of other skills.
Learning more about the soft skills, or people skills, is an advantage for human resources specialists. From adult learning methodology to motivational techniques and human psychology, human resources specialists learn what motivates and makes people behave the way they do. A disadvantage for HR specialists, is that this knowledge often comes at the the expense of technical skills. This can create a significant technical skills gap. Human resources specialists should be careful to develop both their technical and human relations skills, while also gaining diversified experience.
The career path for a specialist allows for great experience in all areas of human resources, if that is what you desire. Benefits and compensation experience, training and development opportunities and employee relations are just a few areas where human resources specialists concentrate. A disadvantage is that HR specialists do not often have operational or marketing experience on their resumes. Understanding how the organization operates is essential for success in human resources, and gaining that knowledge in the field is often the best way to learn exactly how your company functions.
Line versus Staff
Human resources specialists generally are considered staff workers. Line management is accountable for the day-to-day operations of your company, and staff positions support this function. An advantage for human resources specialists is that they can concentrate exclusively on their specific duties, without worrying about budgetary and operating concerns. A disadvantage is that this can separate them from the true needs of your organization, making them less responsive to the daily concerns of your operators. Specialists can become very good at what they do, but they should always be certain they are reacting to true operational concerns.
- Job Descriptions: HR Specialist Job Description & Career Opportunities
- Course Advisor: Human Resources Careers
- "The HR Answer Book"; Shawn Smith & Rebecca Mazin; 2011
Based in Bethlehem, Pa., Kermit Burley has been writing articles for over 30 years. His articles have appeared in "Training" magazine, as well as numerous company publications throughout the course of his career. Burley holds a Masters of Education in instructional design from Penn State and is certified as a trainer and instructional designer.