Career Development

HR Generalist Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More

HR generalists, also called HR specialists, play a vital role in the success of any organization. They help managers and executives to recruit, interview, and hire new employees. They also assist with employee-related issues such as performance reviews, conduct investigations, and handle employee relations.

HR generalists, also called HR specialists, play a vital role in the success of any organization. They help managers and executives to recruit, interview, and hire new employees. They also assist with employee-related issues such as performance reviews, conduct investigations, and handle employee relations.

In a larger sense, HR generalists establish and maintain key policies for working relationships in any company or organization. The big picture focus of HR generalists works in tandem with a variety of other roles and functions to promote and foster growth and profitability within any company or organization.

Read on to learn more about what it’s like to be an HR generalist and what it takes to become one yourself.

HR Generalist Job Duties

HR generalists typically perform a wide range of duties, which may include the following:

  • Providing advice and guidance to managers on employee relations issues such as policies, procedures, and laws
  • Coordinating new hire orientation programs for new employees, including conducting staff training sessions
  • Determining appropriate compensation rates based on job requirements and industry standards
  • Reviewing various staff records such as employee attendance or performance records to identify potential problems that require attention from supervisors
  • Training employees in proper workplace conduct and ethics, such as sexual harassment awareness education, conflict resolution techniques, or diversity awareness training on different cultures and lifestyles
  • Reviewing job applications for compliance with federal hiring laws
  • Preparing reports on company hiring statistics or trends in employee turnover rates
  • Monitoring employees’ work hours to ensure they are compliant with labor department guidelines requiring overtime pay for work performed beyond certain time limits

The scope of this job can vary widely depending on the size of the company. It may include managing hiring processes for new positions or handling large projects like updating health insurance policies. 

HR Generalist Salary & Outlook

As of May 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics reports that the median annual wage for human resources generalists was $63,490. The top 10% of earners in this field reported annual wages of $109,350, and the lowest 10% earned $37,710.

The field of human resources is a booming one, with a projected 10% growth over the next decade. This growth is likely to be driven by the need for qualified human resources generalists to handle increasingly complex employment laws and benefit options.

HR Generalist Job Requirements

The requirements for a human resources generalist are as follows:

Education: A human resource generalist generally requires a bachelor’s degree in an area related to business or social sciences. Some employers require HR generalists to hold at least a master’s degree in human resource management. This advanced level of education provides candidates with the knowledge they need to run the HR department of an organization.

Training: Experience is the best training for an HR generalist. Most employers prefer candidates who have worked in an HR capacity for at least five years before applying for this job. An HR generalist should be comfortable managing employee records and resolving workplace conflicts. Working in HR also gives candidates the opportunity to build strong interpersonal skills that can help them connect with people from all walks of life.

Certifications & Licenses: Human resources generalists are not required to have any specific certification or license, but it can help to increase their earning potential. Some examples include Professional in Human Resources (PHR) and SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP).

HR Generalist Skills

A Human Resources Generalist needs to have the following skills:

Excellent communication skills: The HR Generalist must be able to effectively communicate with employees, clients, and superiors.

Problem-solving skills: A good HR generalist must be able to solve problems both large and small. This can include everything from dealing with an employee who has made a mistake to figuring out how to meet payroll for the month. It’s crucial that you’re able to look at situations objectively so that you can come up with effective solutions that fit within company policies and procedures.

Time management: Time management is crucial for any HR professional who deals with deadlines on a regular basis. This includes managing your own time as well as helping others manage theirs.

Interpersonal skills: The HR Generalist must be able to interact well with people in order to handle conflict resolution, coaching, and other interpersonal situations.

Analytical skills: The HR Generalist must be able to analyze data in order to make decisions about hiring, promotions, and training.

HR Generalist Work Environment

HR generalists typically work in offices at large corporations and other organizations where human resources services are needed. HR generalists must have strong people skills as they deal with a variety of people daily including employees, managers, and executives.

HR generalists are sometimes exposed to stressful situations, as they are relied upon to handle sensitive issues. They must handle these situations tactfully, but firmly, ensuring the company’s policies are followed. The job can at times involve a great deal of paperwork, requiring one to be well organized, particularly due to the confidential nature of HR documents.

HR Generalist Career Advancement

HR generalists can take on many different roles within this field. HR generalists who find themselves working more closely with employees might become talent acquisition specialists or diversity and inclusion specialists.

Those HR generalists who find themselves working more closely with management may advance to become HR managers who oversee departments and have more responsibilities.

If you want to eventually advance to an Executive HR role, you can consider completing your MBA or an advanced degree to add to your proven experience.

HR Generalist Trends

Here are three trends influencing how HR generalists work. HR generalists will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

More In-House Hiring:

In the past, HR generalists typically worked in a company’s Human Resources department, but now many companies are creating an internal function within their organization to help with hiring and other HR needs.

In-house hiring will likely become more common as a result of recent regulatory changes regarding the laws surrounding hiring employees and workplace discrimination. 

Employer-Focused Recruiting Strategies:

HR professionals have been asked to play a greater role in attracting top talent, which has led to a surge in employer-focused recruiting strategies.

While traditional recruitment strategies focused on developing a solid employment brand and establishing a competitive compensation package, today’s HR professionals are being asked to develop specialized tools for hiring managers and candidates alike, such as targeted videos and self-service platforms.

Knowledge of Diversity:

As a result of increased diversity in the workplace, HR professionals will have to be able to develop strategies for accommodating people from different cultures and backgrounds.

In addition, HR professionals will need to understand the impact that hiring a diverse workforce can have on an organization. For example, employees from different cultural backgrounds can help improve creativity and productivity by encouraging innovative ideas from team members who may have been previously overlooked

How to Become an HR Generalist

1. Planning Your Career Path

Some positions require specific education or experience in HR, but many companies offer training programs to new hires so that they can gain necessary skills as they go along. A background in psychology or sociology may also prove useful; these disciplines focus on human behavior and the relationships between people, which are integral components of an HR job.

To become a successful HR generalist, it is important to be personable and compassionate toward others. Most importantly, though, your job requires an analytical mind; those who thrive in this industry must possess strong critical thinking skills as well as excellent communication abilities.

2. Writing a Resume

A human resources generalist should showcase how he or she will be able to benefit the company and fill its specific needs. One way to do this is by citing achievements and successes in the form of personal accounts and past accomplishments. When highlighting these achievements, focus on ones that relate directly to the job in question. For example, if you are applying for a leadership role at a specific company, include examples of how you have successfully built and led teams. If the company is known for investing in their employees, emphasize that you are also willing to learn new skills or pursue certifications. HR Generalists often work with recruiters, so it’s important to highlight your communication skills on your resume. 

3. Applying for Jobs

There are a number of ways to find a job as an HR generalist. One of the best ways is to attend conferences and networking events. These events allow you to network with HR professionals and recruiters, who may be able to help you find a job. In addition, many large companies have dedicated recruiters who focus on their HR department. If you can, try to get in touch with these recruiters directly and let them know you’re looking for a job. They will often have a good idea of what jobs are available and can help you find one that’s a good fit for your experience level.

You can also apply for positions on job boards or on LinkedIn. It’s also a good idea to ask friends and family if they know of any openings in their company. If you don’t have any experience, but are still interested in working in HR, you can try to volunteer or get more involved with your local chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

4. Ace the Interview

During an interview as an HR generalist candidate, it is important to come prepared with knowledge of the company’s history and business goals. A well-prepared HR generalist candidate will also be able to talk about how they would use HR techniques to help the company achieve its goals. 

During the interview, try to make a good first impression by dressing professionally.


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