HR department: A wealth of resources
For many people, Toby Flenderson, the HR guy on “The Office,” may well be the face of the human-resource professional.Let’s just say he doesn’t represent the majority. As the sole rep for the Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflin, he admits to having no passion for human resources and takes the easiest route when dealing with employee problems.
In reality, HR workers often wield more power on company policy than commonly understood, care about staff development, and are not merely “paper pushers” or “firing squads.” Defining HR
“Human Resources works with … the nuts and bolts of what an employee needs to make their way through the corporate world,” said Dawn Passaro, a researcher with hrmarketer.com. Kim Ruyle, a 25-year veteran of the industry, noted that businesses need financial capital, raw materials and human capital. It’s the latter that HR handles. “We optimize the human capital to make the business grow,” Ruyle said. “Humans are our biggest cost, but they are also the one thing we can leverage to drive business.” HR reps must balance the needs of management and employees — especially when they conflict. “You have to be on both sides,” said Linda Paul, a 15-year veteran. HR also is the driving force behind hiring. “HR sets the salary, writes the job description and places the ad,” Passaro said. “They review the resumes and select the best candidates. They hand hold the candidate through the process … and then sell the candidate to the manager.”
They also handle promotions and raises. According to salary.com, entry-level HR people in NYC make $37,000 to $54,000 annually; mid-level execs make $70,000-$90,000 and higher-level execs make $165,000-$280,000. Debunking stereotypes
Human resources professionals are rarely paper pushers. Many higher-level HR professionals are involved in major decisions. And they don’t take layoffs lightly. “It’s not something we aspire to do,” said Libby Anderson, a member of the Society for Human Resource Management’s Organizational Development Panel. “Ideally, our position would be to advise the correct leadership on how to handle things like that.” Doing HR
While some universities are offering degree programs in HR, most professionals recommend a background in business. “You must understand how the business operates in order to be a good HR representative,” said Anderson. It’s also helps to take the Senior Professional in Human Resources exam, given by the Society for Human Resource Management.
The industry’s future
The HR industry is growing, as more higher-level professionals become involved in strategy and core business development decisions. “HR will continue to be on the business-partner side of things,” Paul said. Paul said recruiters have been hit hardest during this recession. “If a company is downsizing or having hiring freezes, they have no choice but to let their internal recruiters go as well. It’s definitely an advantage for an HR professional to be a generalist so that their varied skill sets can be used no matter what the climate.”