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The Complete Guide to HR Jobs & Specialisms

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Human Resources (HR) is a critical function within organizations, responsible for managing all the people within the organisation who keep the business running – from entry-level to C-suite employees.

HR professionals play a pivotal role in recruiting, retaining, and developing talent, as well as ensuring compliance with labour laws and helping to create a positive workplace culture.

Within the realm of HR, there are various job roles and specializations, each with its unique responsibilities and skill sets.

In this guide, we will delve into the world of HR jobs and specialisms, exploring the diverse career paths available and the qualifications needed to excel in this dynamic field.


1. HR Generalists

While not a specialist role, HR Generalists are the Swiss army knives of the HR world. They are responsible for a wide range of HR functions and are often the first point of contact for employees seeking assistance. Some of their primary responsibilities include:

  • Recruitment: From posting job openings to conducting interviews and making job offers.

  • Employee Relations: Handling employee grievances, conflicts, and concerns, striving to maintain a harmonious workplace.

  • Benefits Administration: Managing employee benefits, such as health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off.

  • Training and Development: Coordinating employee training programs to enhance skills and knowledge.

  • Compliance: Ensuring the organization complies with labour laws and regulations.

  • Record Keeping: Maintaining accurate employee records is essential for HR compliance and decision-making.

Gaining a CIPD qualification is also a great way to get your journey started as an HR generalist, you should possess strong communication skills, problem-solving abilities, and a solid understanding of HR best practices. A bachelor's degree in HR or a related field is often required, but some positions may require a master’s degree or relevant certifications.

CIPD offers a range of qualifications that can be highly beneficial for HR generalists, providing them with a strong foundation in HR principles and best practices.

2. The Hiring Experts: Recruitment Specialists

Focused on finding and hiring the best talent for organization, recruitment specialists, also known as Talent Acquisition Specialists or Recruiters, focus exclusively on finding and hiring the best talent for their organizations. Their responsibilities include:

  • Job Posting: Creating compelling job postings and advertising them on various platforms to attract qualified candidates.

  • Screening: Reviewing resumes and applications to identify potential candidates for further evaluation.

  • Interviewing: Conducting interviews to assess candidates' qualifications, skills, and cultural fit with the organization.

  • Offer Negotiation: Collaborating with hiring managers to extend job offers and negotiate compensation packages.

  • Onboarding: Assisting new hires with the onboarding process to ensure a smooth transition into the organization.

Recruitment specialists need excellent interpersonal and communication skills, a keen eye for talent, and the ability to work in a fast-paced environment. While a bachelor's degree is typically required, relevant experience in recruiting can also be valuable.

CIPD offers qualifications that can enhance the skills and knowledge of recruitment specialists, aligning their expertise with the requirements of the role. While CIPD doesn't have specific qualifications exclusively for recruitment, certain modules within their programs can be highly relevant for individuals in this field.

3. The HR Analytics Specialists

In today's data-driven world, organizations are increasingly relying on data to make informed decisions, and HR is no exception. HR Analytics Specialists, also known as HR Data Analysts, are responsible for gathering, analysing, and interpreting HR-related data to provide insights that inform HR strategies and decisions. Their key responsibilities include:

  • Data Collection: Gathering HR data from various sources, including employee records, surveys, and performance evaluations.

  • Data Analysis: Analysing data to identify trends, patterns, and areas for improvement in HR processes and policies.

  • Reporting: Creating reports and dashboards to visualize HR metrics and communicate findings to HR leadership and other stakeholders.

  • Predictive Analytics: Using data to make predictions about future workforce trends and needs.

To excel in this role, HR Analytics Specialists should have strong analytical and statistical skills, as well as proficiency in data visualization tools like Tableau or Power BI. A bachelor's degree in HR, statistics, data science, or a related field is typically required, along with experience in data analysis.


4. Employee Relations Specialists

Employee Relations Specialists are dedicated to fostering positive relationships between employees and management. They work to prevent and resolve workplace conflicts and ensure that employees are treated fairly and with respect. Key responsibilities include:

  • Conflict Resolution: Mediating disputes and conflicts between employees or between employees and management.

  • Policy Development: Assisting in the development and implementation of HR policies and procedures.

  • Investigations: Conducting investigations into complaints of harassment, discrimination, or other workplace issues.

  • Compliance: Ensuring that the organization complies with labour laws and regulations related to employee rights.

  • Employee Engagement: Developing strategies to enhance employee morale and job satisfaction.

To succeed in this role, Employee Relations Specialists need strong interpersonal and communication skills, a thorough understanding of labour laws, and the ability to remain impartial and objective. A bachelor's degree in HR or a related field is typically required, and some positions may require additional certifications in employment law or mediation.

5. Compensation and Benefits Specialists

Compensation and Benefits Specialists focus on designing and managing the organization's compensation and benefits packages. They ensure that employees are fairly compensated for their work and receive competitive benefits. Key responsibilities include:

  • Salary Surveys: Conducting salary surveys to benchmark the organization's compensation packages against industry standards.

  • Benefits Administration: Managing employee benefits programs, including health insurance, retirement plans, and wellness programs.

  • Payroll Processing: Overseeing payroll processing to ensure accurate and timely payment to employees.

  • Compensation Analysis: Analysing compensation data to make recommendations for salary adjustments and incentive programs.

  • Compliance: Ensuring that compensation and benefits practices comply with relevant laws and regulations.

To excel in this role, Compensation and Benefits Specialists need a strong understanding of compensation principles, excellent analytical skills, and attention to detail. A bachelor's degree in HR, business, or a related field is typically required, and some professionals choose to pursue diverse certifications.

6. Learning and Development Specialists

Often referred to in HR circles as Training Specialists, Learning & Development Specialists play an essential part organization. Working alongside them, these specialists focus on increasing employees' skills through targeted training initiatives and programs designed specifically to advance them. Their key responsibilities within an HR context may include:

  • Training Needs Analysis: Identifying skill gaps and training needs within the organization.

  • Curriculum Development: Creating training materials and content tailored to specific job roles and skill requirements.

  • Training Delivery: Facilitating training sessions, workshops, and e-learning modules.

  • Evaluation: Measuring the effectiveness of training programs and making improvements based on feedback.

  • Career Development: Assisting employees in setting and achieving career development goals.

Learning and Development Specialists, also known as Training Specialists, play a vital role in fostering the growth and development of employees within an organization. If you're aspiring to excel in this role, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) offers qualifications tailored to Learning and Development professionals.

7. HR Compliance Specialists

HR Compliance Specialists are responsible for ensuring that the organization adheres to all relevant labour laws, regulations, and industry standards. They play a critical role in mitigating legal risks and ensuring ethical HR practices. Key responsibilities include:

  • Audits: Conducting regular audits of HR policies, practices, and records to ensure compliance.

  • Policy Development: Developing and updating HR policies and procedures to align with changing laws and regulations.

  • Reporting: Preparing and submitting compliance reports to government agencies and internal stakeholders.

  • Training: Providing training and guidance to HR and management teams on compliance matters.

  • Investigations: Investigating complaints related to compliance violations.

To excel in this role, HR Compliance Specialists need a strong understanding of labour and employment laws, attention to detail, and the ability to interpret complex regulations. A bachelor's degree in HR, business, or a related field is typically required, and some professionals choose to earn certifications in HR compliance.


8. International HR Specialists

Also known as Global HR Managers, International HR Specialists are responsible for managing HR functions in multinational organizations with a global workforce. Their key responsibilities include:

  • International Recruitment: Managing the recruitment and onboarding of employees in different countries.

  • Global Benefits: Overseeing global employee benefits programs and compliance with local regulations.

  • Expatriate Management: Managing the relocation and assignment of employees to international locations.

  • Cross-Cultural Training: Providing training and support to employees working in different cultural contexts.

  • Legal Compliance: Ensuring compliance with international labour laws and regulations.

To excel in this role, International HR Specialists need a deep understanding of international labour laws, cultural sensitivity, and strong cross-cultural communication skills. A bachelor's degree in HR, international business, or a related field is typically required, and some professionals choose to earn certifications in international HR management.

9. HR Technology Specialists

In the digital age, HR departments increasingly rely on technology to streamline processes and enhance efficiency. HR Technology Specialists, also known as HRIS (Human Resources Information Systems) Specialists, are responsible for implementing and managing HR software and systems. Key responsibilities include:

  • System Implementation: Implementing HR software and ensuring it meets the organization's needs.

  • Data Management: Managing HR data, ensuring accuracy, and protecting employee information.

  • Troubleshooting: Resolving technical issues and providing support to HR staff and employees.

  • Integration: Integrating HR systems with other organizational software and platforms.

  • Training: Providing training to HR staff and employees on using HR technology.

To excel in this role, HR Technology Specialists need strong technical skills, including proficiency in HR software and data analytics tools. A bachelor's degree in HR, information technology, or a related field is typically required, and some professionals choose to earn certifications in HR technology or software.

10. The Future of HR: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Specialists

At the forefront of creating inclusive workplaces where all employees feel valued and have equal opportunities are DEI Specialists. Their key responsibilities include:

  • DEI Strategy: Developing and implementing DEI strategies and initiatives.

  • Training: Providing training on diversity, equity, and inclusion to employees and management.

  • Metrics and Reporting: Collecting and analysing data on diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

  • Compliance: Ensuring compliance with diversity and inclusion laws and regulations.

  • Employee Resource Groups: Supporting and facilitating employee resource groups focused on diversity and inclusion.

To excel in this role, DEI Specialists need a deep understanding of diversity and inclusion principles, excellent communication skills, and the ability to drive cultural change within organizations. A bachelor's degree in HR, social sciences, or a related field is typically required, and some professionals choose to earn certifications in diversity and inclusion.


Will a CIPD qualification help get me a job in HR?

CIPD represents your key to enter HR job opportunities by offering an internationally respected professional status. It shows your employers that you have the right skills and knowledge for HR roles by passing exams from the renowned organisation, not to mention the extra benefits such as networking and industry insights that help set you apart in today's job market.

CIPD Level 3 Foundation Certificate in People Practice is beneficial for those who are looking to develop their career in HR.

It provides foundational HR knowledge, practical skills, and professional recognition, making it a great place to start for aspiring HR generalists, recruiters, and the like. It's a stepping stone for career development, legal compliance, and networking opportunities within the HR industry.

The CIPD Level 5 Associate Diploma in People Management or Organisational Learning and Development provides individuals with a deeper knowledge of HR practices or learning and development practices.

HR professionals may focus on advanced concepts like employee training and development while L&D specialists delve deeper into designing and delivering effective learning programs, covering subjects like learning needs analysis and digital learning strategies. Upon obtaining their Level 5 qualification they become qualified for mid-level roles by increasing practical skills while earning recognition of credentials.

CIPD Level 7 Advanced Diploma in Strategic People Management or Learning and Development is tailored for HR or L&D professionals aspiring to take on strategic leadership roles.

For HR professionals it provides a thorough knowledge of advanced HR topics such as HR strategy, leadership and decision-making while L&D practitioners gain insights into workplace learning and development practices such as performance consulting and evidence-based practice. It can also serve individuals tasked with shaping organizational policies, managing compliance issues or leading HR or L&D initiatives.

Combining these CIPD qualifications with relevant experience can prepare you for the dynamic and diverse responsibilities of an HR Generalist. CIPD membership also offers access to a wealth of resources and a professional network, further supporting your career development as an HR Generalist.


HR Generalist vs. HR Specialist: Which is Better?

Your decision to become an HR generalist or an HR specialist completely depends upon your individual career goals and organizational requirements. HR generalists excel in fast-paced environments by overseeing multiple HR functions across an organization's HR department with skill across various HR disciplines. HR specialists, on the other hand, excel in more specialized fields like recruitment, compensation, or employee relations.

Generalists bring adaptability and an overall understanding of HR to any team; specialists bring specific domain expertise in certain HR areas. A well-balanced HR team often benefits from both generalists and specialists working collaboratively together on meeting workforce and organizational needs.


The field of HR offers a diverse range of career paths and specializations, each with its unique responsibilities and challenges. Whether you're interested in recruitment, data analytics, employee relations, or any other aspect of HR, there is a role that aligns with your skills and interests.

Improve your HR skills with a CIPD course today.