Beyond the Resume: The 7 Valuable Traits of a HR Professional

If you’re just entering the field of Human Resources or are looking to advance your career as an HR manager, then you should know which traits to develop in order to accomplish your career goals.

A quick review: in some way, shape or form, the following “basic” criteria are typically listed in job postings for HR positions:

  • Bachelor’s degree (Master’s preferred in some cases)
  • Human Resources certification (a preferred option for some)
  • Advanced knowledge of Federal and State Employment Law
  • Ability to work in fast-paced environment and flexibility with changing priorities
  • Effective oral and written communication skills
  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • Proficient use of Excel, Outlook, and Word

If you think you are lacking in some of these basic points, then make a prioritized list of what you need to improve upon and how you will do it. Having these basic skills and knowledge will make you better prepared to advance to the next level in your career.

In addition to meeting these criteria, there are a few more qualifications that can help you stand out among the competition.

7 valuable traits to develop as an HR professional

1. Relationship focused. HR professionals must have the ability to develop and sustain positive relationships and trust across all organizational levels. HR folks face the challenge of providing excellent customer service to employees, while enforcing policies that target an organization’s business objectives. It’s challenging, but oh so important.

2. Business-minded. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to just have good relationships across an organization. As an HR professional, you must also have excellent business skills. You should understand the impact of HR functions from a business perspective: performance management, employee engagement, succession planning, training and development, recruitment and on-boarding – all affect business operations and services. You should be comfortable recommending new approaches, policies, and procedures that result in continually improved department and services efficiency. This trait will serve you well as you advance in your career.

3. Solutions oriented. An HR professional must be ready to efficiently and creatively solve problems using critical thinking skills. Are you always identifying ways to improve internal processes and tools? Fantastic! Being an innovative problem solver will make you a sought-after HR leader.

4. Detail oriented. This trait is valuable at any stage of nearly any career in my book, but it’s worth including on this list. As an HR professional, you will need to keep track of very crucial documents that concern the livelihood of your employees, in addition to performance reviews, surveys, and other reporting. Become comfortable with spreadsheets and analyzing data.

5. Inquisitive. Ask questions. Be eager to learn. Express your thoughts and ideas. HR is constantly evolving. Position yourself as a thought leader in its evolution.

6. Strong communicator. In order to build relationships, enforce policies, and meet business objectives, you will need to be a strong communicator. If you’re uncomfortable with your speaking or writing skills, then find ways to improve them as soon as possible. Your ability to communicate clearly and in a way that inspires people to action is one of the most important things in your career – and life – no matter what you do for a living.

7. Trustworthy. A good HR leader is trustworthy. You are a counselor at times, a policy enforcer at others. You must maintain confidentiality while solving issues. If people can’t trust you, the other 6 traits on this list will be difficult – if not impossible – to see.

These are a few traits that will set you apart from your competition. If you already have them, then great! Prep your resume and get out there. If not, no worries – when there’s a will, there’s a way and it’s never too late to start developing these traits for the next steps in your HR career. Which traits would you add to the list?

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Eric Magnussen

Eric Magnussen serves as the Vice President of Talent for Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) and is accountable for all aspects of the CTCA Talent function for a 5,500 employee organization. Eric is responsible for talent strategy, attraction and selection, employee development, succession planning, wellness and wellbeing, compensation and benefits. Connect with Eric.


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