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Male job seeker learning about career pathing roles in human resources (HR).


What to Know About
Career Pathing to
Human Resources Roles

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the number of available human resource (HR) positions is expected to increase 6% over the next decade — twice the average growth rate for all occupations.

For job seekers interested in human resources careers, developing a career path can help you capitalize on this industry’s growth potential.

Career pathing helps align opportunities for employee career growth with corporate priorities. That list of priorities is growing, which is why employers are looking for professionals with a diverse set of skills. In addition to responsibilities such as benefits management and hiring, HR professionals now foster employee well-being, assist in digital transformation initiatives, and own sustainability and diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) efforts.

With increasing placement opportunities and an evolving job description, now is a great time to consider a career in HR. Whether you’re new to the job market or currently employed in another field but want to make the jump to HR, career pathing is a valuable first step toward controlling your employment future.

What is Career Pathing?

Career pathing helps you plan for the jobs you want in the future. The first step is to determine the career you ultimately want. Then, you can target the jobs and skills that will best prepare you for your goal.

Within a company, this often means working with your supervisor or another mentor to understand your goals and find ways to collaborate with the rest of your company to achieve them.

However, career pathing isn’t just for current employees — job seekers benefit from it as well. Understanding your goals can help you determine next steps in your career and make it easier for recruiters to place you.

Steps to Career Pathing

Career pathing best practices begin with identifying your goals and what you need to achieve them. When creating your career path, start by considering:

  • Your career goals
  • Your skill gaps
  • The technical skills and qualifications you must obtain or improve

Establish Your HR Career Goals

When considering career opportunities in HR, you have two main career path options: You can work toward becoming an HR generalist or an HR specialist.

An HR generalist handles every aspect of human relations and requires you to be well rounded in your job knowledge. This is a good choice for those who want to try out many different skill sets or like performing different tasks throughout the day. Many HR generalists work in smaller organizations where a few professionals are responsible for the entire company.

HR specialists focus on a specific subsection of HR. This could include payroll, compliance, recruiting, benefits, learning and development, and DEIB, among others. HR specialists are likely to be employed at larger companies with robust HR departments that employ enough workers to allow for specialized roles. If you are interested in building expertise in one or two areas, this is the better option.

Identify Your Skill Gaps

Identifying and filling in your skill gaps can make you a more attractive candidate. Some of the most important skills for HR professionals include:

  • Communication
  • Organization
  • Interpersonal relationship building
  • DEIB
  • Problem-solving

You should be able to explain to recruiters and hiring managers how your past work experience has helped you develop these skills. If you lack experience in certain areas, now is the time to fill the gaps. Taking on new responsibilities at work, attending trainings or certificate courses, or even volunteering in relevant positions can help you enhance your skills and make your resume stand out to recruiters.

Obtain the Right HR Technical Skills and Qualifications

A degree specifically focusing on HR isn’t necessary to enter the field. Many HR professionals have college degrees in areas like business, sociology and psychology. Some go on to get a graduate degree or certificate in HR, although that often isn’t required for entry-level roles. Work experience in operational positions can provide the skill development you need to transition into HR.

Technology, specifically artificial intelligence (AI), is playing an increasingly important role in an HR professional’s day-to-day work. One survey found that 54% of HR professionals believe AI will create more demand for their skills. Generative AI has also been shown to help improve HR professionals’ productivity and quality of work.

HR professionals are using AI for tasks like:

  • Helping to write job descriptions
  • Analyzing resumes
  • Conducting performance reviews
  • Onboarding and offboarding employees
  • Fielding questions about benefits and company policies
  • Managing emails and calendars

Staying in front of the digital transformation in HR is important. As AI becomes more common in the workplace, having experience with AI tools can help set you apart. Consider trying out workforce management and communication tools, as well as generative AI, to gain familiarity with them and bolster your resume.

Staffing Experts Can Help Launch Your HR Career

Staffing agencies like Aston Carter can help you launch and grow your HR career. In addition to helping companies from around the country staff human resources roles at every level, Aston Carter also has extensive experience in helping companies develop their own career pathing strategies and processes. That expertise can work on your behalf.

Aston Carter specializes in placing operations and administrative employees like human resource professionals, and is the number one provider of office and clerical staffing in North America. Our recruiters will work closely with you to assess your resume and find the right match for your skill set and career goals.

If you are interested in furthering your career in human resources, browse job opportunities today.

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