Blog | 03.02.20

What Is the Career Path to Becoming an HR Executive?

Beginning a career in human resources is exciting yet challenging—HR professionals have immense power to shape a company’s culture and set progressive policy in organizations. But what, exactly, is the HR career path ladder? What types of positions do people generally hold in human resources on the way to becoming an HR executive?


Human resources provides a large number of opportunities for growth. HR professionals often find themselves with a variety of job titles and a wide range of responsibilities. However, there are some commonalities among positions that give an idea of what the career path toward becoming an HR executive looks like. Before someone can be successful in climbing the HR ladder, it’s necessary to understand the role each HR position plays within an organization and its relative importance.


The Human Resources Career Path

To prepare for a career in HR, most individuals get a bachelor’s degree or even go one step further to pursue a master’s degree. Working in human resources requires integrity, confidentiality, and interpersonal skills. However, having the ability to work well with people isn’t the only qualification for an HR role.


Companies look for professionals who are well-versed in business management, finance, and legal knowledge, among other key areas. The expectations for HR professionals continue to expand and evolve—contributing to employee and organization development, retention, positive work environments, and so much more. Let’s take a look at the hierarchy of HR roles and what each position typically entails. If you’re currently hiring for a new HR role but aren’t exactly sure how to define the position, you may find this list particularly helpful.


HR Assistant or Associate

An HR assistant is the entry-level position that introduces many individuals to their first job after graduating. This role helps various HR processes run smoothly by completing administrative paperwork for new hires, termination, benefits, and other workplace programs. While this role may seem relatively low level, it allows budding HR professionals to develop a basic understanding of the skills needed for more complex HR positions.


HR Specialist

The HR specialist role narrows down the focus to one specific task within a human resources department. This might mean working exclusively on payroll or training and development. However, there could be other responsibilities involved from time to time, such as assisting with the daily operations of the HR team. This role allows employees to sharpen specific skills.


HR Manager

An HR manager oversees policies and procedures relating to employees in a company. The manager is responsible for ensuring compliance with local, state, and federal laws. This role requires a more strategic partner within the HR department, actively contributing to business planning, budget development, and employee relations. This role requires excellent multitasking skills, leadership, and problem-solving skills.


HR Director

The HR director of an organization will fill a variety of roles. In larger companies, they may be the head of several departments, hiring managers to oversee them. This position requires an individual who can act as a strategic partner within an organization, helping to propel the company and its employees forward. Duties of this role may involve ensuring compliance with standards and laws, overseeing learning and development opportunities, and incorporating team building and leadership training activities into the workplace. The HR director position will often require a master’s degree.


HR Executive

Finally, we have the HR executive position. This role acts as the overall head of the HR department and is responsible for HR practices and regulations, proposing changes, and ensuring the company has the necessary staff in order to meet all business needs and goals. One of the most essential duties of this position is focusing on development and retention. The HR executive assesses programs and initiatives that help train and develop employees to ensure that they are continuously providing value. Cultivating a desirable company culture full of satisfied and engaged staff is a key aspect of this role.


Recruiting Top HR Professionals

When it comes time to fill an open HR position within your company, you shouldn’t have to settle for the first candidate who comes along. But finding the perfect HR professional may seem like a fruitless task. Sourcing high-quality candidates can be challenging, but HR Personnel Services understands the importance of finding the right candidate who will be able to grow and thrive within your company.


Our team of experienced recruiters will work hard to understand your company’s vision, culture, and goals in order to connect you with driven candidates who are ready to make an immediate impact. Contact us today if you need help finding the perfect HR professional to add to your team.  

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