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Is there a definitive answer to what HR skills encompass? Just as human nature is complex, so are the necessary skills that let Human Resources professionals do their jobs well.
In this article, I wanted to explore what HR management skills entail and how they can be elevated to advance your career. As a bonus, I’ll share the best practices for putting HR skills on your resume so your HR competencies can truly shine.
This guide will show you:
- What HR skills are, and what skills are needed for most HR positions.
- Examples of most in-demand HR skills and competencies.
- How to develop HR skills for a successful career in human resource management.
- How to list HR skills on a resume, getting the most out of every resume section.
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Looking for a specific HR resume guide? Here’s what we have:
- HR Resume Example
- HR Cover Letter Example
- HR Assistant Resume Example
- HR Manager Resume Example
- HR Director Resume Example
- HR Generalist Resume Example
- Entry-Level HR Resume Example
1. What Are HR Skills and Competencies?
HR skills are particular professional competencies needed to perform human resources-related functions competently. Good HR skills result in working effectively with other people, accurate recruiting, and efficient workforce management.
2. HR Skills: Examples
Now, let’s go into more detail about which soft and hard skills can be considered HR skills.
These HR qualifications are what every HR specialist needs:
- Interpersonal skills
- Effective communication
- Active listening
- Conflict resolution
- Administrative skills
- Strategy & workforce development
While the required HR skills will vary from an HR manager to an HR assistant, the ones above are essential (and are just as important for anyone in management positions, not necessarily HR-related). However, there are dimensions to HR skills, and the list is not exhaustive.
Let’s break down what each of these HR skills implies:
Naturally, great people skills top the list of crucial Human Resources competencies. First and foremost, HR management is about successfully dealing with people and ensuring they work well as a team and collaborate efficiently towards a common goal.
An integral element of good interpersonal skills is effective communication. One of the most
sought-after soft skills, it’s a quality that allows an HR specialist to build connections, promote openness, and discover problem areas that need to be addressed.
Often, great communication begins with listening. Before you can start tackling issues, you need to identify them—and this is where this essential HR skill proves useful. Creating an atmosphere of trust so that people are ready to open up and listen carefully to what they have to say is a must.
Where there are people, there are differences. Contrasting opinions and outlooks multiplied by emotions inevitably lead to conflicts; thus, being able to settle them is one of the key human resource management skills.
While it’s certainly important to know how to deal with issues as they arise, not letting them happen in the first place is an art of its own. A great HR manager does this by observing trends, collecting opinions, and creating easy pathways for employees to reach out.
Good organizational skills and time management are very helpful for any job that involves many moving parts. Scheduling meetings, being detail-oriented, making sure nothing falls through the cracks—all of this is necessary for HR positions.
Strategy & Workforce Development
Being a successful HR specialist is not only about maximizing the efficiency of each particular employee. It is equally about uncovering unobvious talents and expanding the collective skill set of the organization. This is where big-picture thinking and the ability to plan ahead are key.
Leadership is not limited to managerial/higher positions within an organization. Within the framework of HR qualifications, it’s also an ability to take ownership and cultivate leadership skills in others. Plus, it means having a vision that prioritizes business management, paving the way for lasting company success.
Pro Tip: Of course, this is not an exhaustive list of HR skills. Many more valuable competencies make a good HR manager, and it’s important to tailor your resume to the specific position you’re applying for.
3. How Can I Improve My Human Resources Skills?
First and foremost, developing and nurturing HR competencies requires time and experience.
But even if it’s been years upon years on the job for you, the greatest challenge in today’s HR environment is that the necessary skill set is constantly evolving and expanding. So whether you’re just starting out or are a seasoned HR manager, staying in the loop is crucial.
Here are some proven ways to strengthen your HR skills that you can try and explore at any moment of your career:
Even if you have the basics down, and you are confident in your HR chops, there are always dimensions to working with people in an organic, mutually beneficial manner. Going through extra training will give you confidence (and will look great on your resume).
Go Beyond HR
The business and social landscape is constantly evolving, so you must always be a step ahead to stay on top of things. To be aware of the current trends and context, broaden your research to include topics like DEI, gender studies, pay gaps, etc.
Here are a couple of suggestions:
Here are a couple of suggestions:
Face the Challenges
While avoiding conflict may seem like an intuitive, if not familiar, line of action, sometimes diving headfirst into the deep end can become an invaluable learning opportunity. Some situations need to be addressed, no matter how difficult or uncomfortable, and being ready for them will definitely be an advantage for you as an HR professional.
These resources can help:
The easiest way to find improvement areas is to simply ask the people you work with. Make sure you’re open and honest, and establish a clear line of communication with your peers. Create surveys or questionnaires, schedule recurring meetings, and find out how you can make their lives better (and further develop your HR qualifications).
4. How to Put HR Skills on a Resume
Now, how do you show your fellow recruiters that you have what it takes? How do you reflect your HR competencies on a resume?
Here are 4 ways to highlight your HR skills on a job application:
1. Use the Dedicated Skills Section
The easiest and most straightforward way is to saturate the Skills section of your resume with the right HR qualifications. To pick out the suitable ones and create a targeted resume that matches the employer’s expectations, study the job ad and identify resume keywords.
HR Skills Example on a Resume
- Employee retention
- Implementing DEI practices
- Resource planning
- Occupational safety
- Conflict resolution
- Administrative skills
Pro Tip: Remember that you can also show skill levels on your resume.
When making a resume in our builder, drag & drop bullet points, skills, and auto-fill the boring stuff. Spell check? Check. Start building a professional resume template here for free.
2. Weave HR Skills Into Your Resume Summary
The summary part of your resume (or resume objective, if you’re entry-level or switching careers) is also a great place to incorporate your Human Resources skills. It’s important to add measurable achievements and assign a numerical value to your career successes to show tangible evidence of those skills in action.
HR Skills Resume Example: Summary
An SHRM-certified HR manager with over 8 years of experience working in companies ranging from 50 to 1,000+ employees. A strong advocate for Diversity, Inclusion & Equity. Proven track record of fine-tuning workforce management processes and maintaining exceptional employee retention rates (90–95%). Looking to apply my expertise as Senior HR Manager at Fay Group.
3. Enhance Your Work Experience or Education Section
While the work experience section is not the most evident spot to feature your skills (as it’s heavily focused on accomplishments, not just duties or competencies), it’s still something to consider. You can follow a pattern: “achieved x through strong x skills,” for example.
HR Skills Example on Resume: Work Experience
September 2015–May 2023
Key Qualifications & Responsibilities
- Maintained employment records, and administered payroll, compensation, and benefits documentation for 200+ in-house employees and contractors.
- Provided over 100 onboarding seminars, and individual/group training sessions, guiding and mentoring the new company hires.
- Processed the paperwork for new hires and job candidates (15–50 monthly).
- Managed employment concerns and complaints, investigating and resolving 100% of the issues.
- Refined the onboarding process, reducing training times by 2–5 days.
- Reinforced DEI awareness, conducting a series of 30 workshops and seminars.
If you’re writing a resume with no work experience, you can suggest that you’ve gained some necessary transferable skills and relevant experience through your studies. To achieve that, add 2–3 bullet points to the education section of your resume describing:
- Related coursework or projects
- Extracurricular activities
- Awards and acknowledgments
HR Skills Example on Resume: Education
BA, Human Resource Management
Lindenwood University, Saint Charles
February 2018–May 2022
- Thesis: “Building an Outstanding Organizational Culture.”
- Created a series of workshops for freshmen on the topics of Diversity and Inclusion.
4. Let Your HR Skills Shine Through With Additional Resume Sections
Last but not least, you can prove your HR qualifications by adding extra sections to your resume. What could be better than documentary proof of your expertise? Here are some ideas on what to include:
- Ongoing education or classes you took
- Statements of training
- Certifications or licenses
- Volunteering or any unpaid work
Resume Example—HR Skills: Other Sections
- Senior Professional in Human Resources—International, HRCI, 2021.
- Inclusive Workplace Culture Specialty Credential, SHRM, 2019.
Pro Tip: Additional sections also work great for language skills.
And, of course, you can describe your skills in greater detail through a well-written cover letter. Learn to get it right with our guide: How to Write a Good Cover Letter to Match Your Resume
Plus, a great cover letter that matches your resume will give you an advantage over other candidates. You can write it in our cover letter builder here. Here's what it may look like:
Let’s go through the main ideas of the article again:
- Many skills can fall into the category of HR skills, but at the end of the day, they are all centered around being able to engage people and move the business forward.
- HR skills can be improved over time through continuous learning and expanding your knowledge areas.
- You can show that you have outstanding HR skills in various parts of your resume—not just the Skills section.
Hope you’ve found this article on HR skills and competencies informative. Do you have any questions or other actionable tips on how HR skills can be enhanced? Let me know in the comments below!
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