A lot of people think of human resources as the liberal arts degree of professions: a catch-all career where you end up when you can’t decide what else you want to do. But that perception couldn’t be further from the truth. HR professionals play a critical role in helping companies hire and retain a satisfied workforce, and that, of course, affects everything else that happens in the company. In addition, many HR jobs have huge legal ramifications – like compliance with labour laws – so recruiters hiring for HR positions look for very specific training and skills. To land an interview for a job in HR, your resume needs to put those factors front and center. Let’s take a look at how to do that.
The best-case scenario would be for you to have a degree in human resources. But if you don’t have an HR degree, make sure your resume points out any related coursework. Most business and management degrees, for instance, have HR components. If you’ve taken any legal courses – especially in employment law – point that out, too.
Again, the best-case scenario would be for you to have direct HR experience. If you do, list that first (in a summary at the top if it isn’t related to your most recent job). Use action words and, whenever possible, quantify your achievements with numbers:
- Reduced employee turnover by 10%.
- Developed a frontline management course that was subsequently completed by 520 employees.
- Resolved 75% of all labour complaints in the company’s favour.
- Developed a comprehensive HR policy for a start-up that was experiencing rapid growth and change.
If you don’t have HR experience, focus on any aspects of previous jobs that had HR components. Look to the job description for clues. Note the key words and phrases, and use those to describe your skills and achievements. For instance:
- Managed a sales force of 20 people and increased overall sales by 20%.
- Took on a department that had high turnover and absenteeism and reduced both by 10%.
- Excelled at developing employees: 50% of people who reported to me were promoted within six months.
HR professionals need to understand all employment laws and regulations, not just for the country where they live, but for all countries where their company operates. Because of that, having the right certifications will give you a leg up on other applicants, so you want to make sure any relevant certifications you’ve earned have a prominent spot on your resume.
One of the most highly prized certifications is through the HR Certification Institute (HRCI). Certifications from HRCI are recognised globally. List any HRCI certifications you have separately on your resume, and include them in your signature line on your emails and cover letter.
Recruiters hiring HR professionals are looking for a combination of three things: education, experience, and certification. The key to a stellar resume for an HR position is to highlight all of your skills and accomplishments in those three areas. If you do that, you’ll be well on your way to the next step in your HR career.