HR’s career ladder is never quite clear. So who cares? Human resources job titles mean nothing, right?

Human Resources Job Titles

Climbing the career ladder of HR job titles…

Wrong. Even if you really don’t care about it, others will judge you for better or worse the instant they see your job title. Today we’ll look at some of the various common titles as well as some career development choices you’ll have to make as an HR pro (generalist, specialist, or recruiting tracks).

Human Resources Job Titles-Ultimate Guide

Table of Contents

  1. List of HR Job Titles and Duties
  2. Progressing Up the Ladder
  3. Specialist vs. Generalist
  4. Recruiting-HR’s Cousin
  5. Education’s Role
  6. Additional Resources on HR Job Titles and Careers Continue reading

The story of my human resource management career rolls merrily along…

Well, it happened. I knew the day was coming, and it is finally here. My manager recently announced her plan to go to part-time and semi-retire from the company, and with her support I was moved to be the lead of all HR/recruiting activities at Pinnacle. It’s a big bump in responsibility (I now report to the CEO, which comes with its own set of challenges and opportunities), and I am very excited about what is in store over the coming months.

Getting my feet under me

First, I’ve been trying to wrap my head around the idea that I no longer have a mentor and sounding board to look up to. My manager was the best leader I’ve ever worked for in my life, and I am really going to miss her. My new manager is also a great leader, but in a very different kind of way (visionary, makes the tough calls, etc.).

Second, I’ve been looking at the to-do list that has been hanging out there on my whiteboard for a few months. Those major initiatives are no longer shared responsibilities–it’s all on me. I either get them done and we succeed as an organization, or I don’t get them done and we have some unpleasant consequences. Plenty of you have been in that place, but it’s still a shock to jump into it without warning.

Third, I have been looking at the team dynamics. I’m no longer reporting to someone who reports to the CEO. I’m on the team of go-to people for the major functions within the organization-contracts, program managers, security, accounting, etc. That team lost a great contributor and added a few more to take on her functions, but only time will tell how that will change affects the leadership of the organization.

“Opportunities for improvement”

When I was considering the position offered to me, I asked my previous manager what she saw as my hurdles in the new role. The answers didn’t really surprise me, and they definitely galvanized me to start preparing myself more for what sure is to come. Potential issues:

  • Youth-I expected this one, but I have yet to see where it’s hampered me thus far (other than just the occasional lack of raw experience to deal with new scenarios). Like I’ve said before (how to move up in your career), if you can kick butt at the level of work you are given, you’ll be given more challenging work.
  • Communication-I am much better at writing than speaking. In other words, my brain processes things much more efficiently through my fingers than through my lips. However, the opportunities for face-to-face conversation are going to drastically increase in this position, and I need to get better at thinking on my feet. I’m actually working on a new post on that topic and hope to share it soon.
  • Attention to detail-It might surprise you, but I’m not a detail-oriented person. I can get things done and check the block for what I need, but I’m much more of a creative thinker. I’ve had to force some level of organization on myself and that will continue to be a priority for me in the coming months.

Sorry that today is all about me! I’ve been meaning to kick out at least a note on the new position, and time keeps getting away from me. I hope the thought process I’ve gone through is helpful for those who are on the bench waiting to be called to the big leagues. It’s a big leap, but with the right preparation and support, you can be successful in your new role. I’m looking forward to the new ideas this position generates and what I can share through my interactions with the C-level leadership in my organization .

The two previous parts in this series dealt with HR careers and how to get a job in HR and human resource career opportunities. Today I will talk about my own move into a new human resources management job (yippee!). :-)

My time in my first HR job taught me a lot about what I do and don’t want to do in my career. I can still remember talking with Jennifer McClure back at SHRM10 this summer about moving into a job that was a good fit for me. Then, a few weeks ago, I was talking with Dawn Hrdlica about the exact same thing. Both of them gave me the same advice, and I was finally able to do what I really wanted. They said:

You have to know where you want to go with regard to your career. Otherwise the opportunity might pass you by before you realize you wanted it.

So I thought really, really hard about what I wanted to do next. Yeah, I could just leap at any open position that came up, but it wouldn’t really be what I wanted. I made a short list of things that were highly desired in my next job.

  1. Small company
  2. Generalist role
  3. Opportunities for growth/experimentation
  4. Great culture

A few weeks ago I found out about an HR position with a small local startup company (there’s #1!). I applied, but it was over my head in that the person would wear many hats and assume multiple roles (#2). I didn’t expect too much, but it was a job I’d love to have. I contacted the hiring manager and learned more about the position.  A big benefit of the job would be the opportunities (#3) it presented for growth and development. All I needed was the culture…

So, fast forward a few weeks, and I’m sitting there being interviewed by the president, vice president, and operations manager. We get down to the end of the interview, and I’m feeling really confident about the whole meeting. As a parting comment, I asked the president if there was one “must have” for the person who would take the position. He responded that the person had to fit into their culture well, because it was one of his highest priorities that they hire for culture fit (#4!). One of the coolest things about the interview was seeing the president scrolling through my blog while I spoke with the operations manager. :-)

A few short days later, I had an offer letter in hand and my resignation turned in at work. This thing was going to happen. On Monday, November 22nd, I start a new chapter in my career. I’ll be going to Pinnacle Solutions here in Huntsville, AL, and I am so thrilled about the possibilities ahead. I’m thankful to those who have helped me along the way and I can’t wait to see how much I learn and grow in this new position!

Other posts in the HR Careers series:

In a recent post I talked about HR careers and how to get a job in HR. Today I’ll cover career opportunities for those in human resource jobs, specifically how to create career growth opportunities from within your job.

How I grew my career opportunities

I’ll go ahead and admit it: my first HR job wasn’t super strenuous. Surprised? Probably not. Most people in their first HR roles usually end up filing papers (me), handling the dull/routine tasks that nobody else wants (me), and generally wasting their time and energy on things that an admin or temp could do (me again). I don’t want to sound ungrateful for the opportunity to move into the HR profession, but if you have someone with a degree in HR and some enthusiasm, but you’ve kept them in a filing/admin type job for over six months, you’re wasting their brains and hamstringing yourself. They won’t do it forever.

That lack of stress and responsibility left me feeling like my free time could be used in a better way. At that time I had already started blogging to share about my new job and what I was doing/learning, but I really threw myself into it. I started using Twitter and LinkedIn to build connections with other human resources professionals around the world.

I was able to grow a little in my day job, but it seemed like there weren’t many opportunities for growth/challenge. Without Allen (my mentor and best friend) guiding me, I’d have sunk into a slump months ago.

Even with a full time work schedule, I had time for a few activities in my spare time…

  • Interacted daily with VP/director level pros and thought leaders in my field
  • Cofounded an HR conference that drew attendees from around the world
  • Wrote an eBook targeted toward my industry’s certification exam
  • Created and solidified dozens of partnerships with other blogs and businesses
  • And most importantly, I established myself as an expert in my niche both locally and nationally

Yes, I have this whole world of stuff that I do outside my day job, but the full time gig is still what pays my bills and keeps my babies fed. And unless you’ve been briefed on my online (empire) activities, it just doesn’t sound very impressive to say, “I’m an HR blogger.” Eventually I came to the realization that the day job needed to keep up with the pace of the rest of my activities, and I started looking for another job.

Most of us have made some job changes in the past few years. You’ve heard my story. What prompted that change for you?

Other posts in the HR Careers series:

If you’re trying to find out how to get a job in HR, you’ve come to the right place. It might surprise you, but I’ve only been in HR for about a year and a half at this point. I kicked off my HR career back in April 2009, and I’m amazed to see how much things have changed since then. I now have a great network of people and a little better understanding of this whole “HR thing,” but I didn’t have that when I started. I also didn’t have great tools like the Entry Level HR Jobs Guide.

How to get a job in HR

I graduated from college in May of 2008 with a brand-spanking new degree in human resources management. But I was stuck. See, my employer paid for my last semester of college, so I had to stick with them for a year of (indentured servitude) work to fulfill my obligation to the company. My supervisor knew that I was itching to move into HR, so she reached out to our own HR person in-house to see if I could do anything at all to start preparing myself. The HR person’s response? Nope.

how to get a job in hr

Take the time to learn how to get a job in HR before you make the leap

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So I had to grind out 12 months of work as I waited for the career to end all HR careers to start. :-) In November 2008, I started to get nervous. See, I could start looking for jobs in January, but I was afraid I had lost much of what I’d learned thus far in college. So, like any normal human being, I signed up for the PHR exam. I was slated to take the exam in late January, so I started studying right away.

My exam day came, and I passed with flying colors. I was so excited and just knew that a job would be right around the corner. And then I sat and waited for the next two months, applying for jobs but getting no serious interviews. It was disheartening.

Then in March I applied for this HR assistant job with a local nonprofit organization. To really help me get an edge over the competition, I looked up the HR staff that were in my local SHRM chapter’s email directory and sent them my resume directly. Then, nothing…

A few weeks passed, and I was feeling rough. I’d put a lot into the application process with the only job I was really qualified for, and it was a bust. Then I received a phone call from the VP of HR to come in for an interview. Score!

I was back in the game.

I bet I spent three hours preparing for that interview, and I think I really did well. I was able to turn her every need into an opportunity I could fulfill, and my enthusiasm was a big factor in the process as well. A few days went by and I had to come in for a second interview with another HR staff member, but it was mostly the same questions, so I knocked it out of the park as well.

Finally, a month after my first phone call with the VP of HR, I got the news. After all the prep, I really did learn how to get a job in human resources! It was an amazing feeling to know that I was finally jumping into the field that I had always wanted to be in.

What about you? What have you learned about how to get a job in human resources? What was your job search like when you looked for your first “professional” career? 

How to get a job in HR video

Other posts in the HR Careers series:

I’ve been pondering a post on interns by Matt Cholerton from Everyone Hates HR, and I have some questions. I am very curious about the use of HR interns. I’m relatively young in my HR career, and I often think back and wish I had some sort of experience as an HR intern. I’d like to delve into the topic of HR interns and HR internships, but I’d like to know a bit more about your experience.

In my (totally unqualified) opinion, I think that established pros should be actively seeking relationships with HR students and entry level HR professionals in order to provide job opportunities through internships. This might be absolutely crazy, but I can still remember my job search. It was Continue reading

I’ve been chatting behind the scenes with HR professionals both locally and nationwide. Many of them are out of work and looking for the next gig to open up. I can give them advice until my face turns blue, but I’ve had a grand total of one HR position. Much of what I know is how to market yourself via social media and how to take advantage of the multiple tools out there to help yourself be found if someone wants to learn more about you as a candidate. But I know that I still have a lot to learn, and I was wondering if anyone out there would like to give some encouragement or advice to those who are currently out of work and looking for their next position.

How did you get your job? Did you use a personal connection, or was it just a random resume copy that fell into the right hands?

If you happen to be one of those looking for a job, there are some great sites out there that can give you a leg up on your job search. And finding local HR jobs isn’t as hard as it once was. Plus, it’s easier than ever to find helpful career advice, because most of us don’t spend the majority of our time preparing to look for a new job. Whatever your employment status, keep those who are out of work in your thoughts. It’s a tough path to walk.

Photo by rick.