What Does a Human Resource Manager Do?

Updated January 26, 2023

A human resource manager, or HR manager, is an important part of many organizations, and working with people can be a satisfying, successful career for many individuals. HR managers control the creation and development of many programs designed to improve employee performance and productivity. They also provide updates to executives and advise them about company growth goals. In this article, we discuss what human resource managers do, provide helpful skills for an HR manager, and explain how to become an HR manager.

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What does a human resource manager do?

Human resources managers make sure other members of the human resources team can collaborate well with each other and work efficiently. They also help manage other departments, plan company events to build morale, and train managers and employees. Some other duties of a human resources manager include:

Recruiting and staffing employees

Hiring managers are in charge of hiring employees, but human resources managers and staff members often look through job applications and attend job fairs to find suitable candidates. They often write job descriptions or edit them to make sure they meet legal requirements and provide a clear overview of each vacancy. They can use an applicant tracking system (ATS) to scan for keywords and help human resources managers find the applications that fit the company best. Human resources managers forward suitable applications to the hiring manager for further review and then schedule the interviews.

After the hiring manager chooses a new hire, a human resources manager helps determine the new employees' starting date and sets up the correct paperwork for new hires. They also provide other relevant onboarding information, like the business's dress code and the dates and times for training sessions. Human resources managers also help staff members and hiring managers provide orientations and tours of the workplace to new hires.

Offering employee benefits

Human resources managers help executives choose the best employee benefits packages to attract quality employees. They also educate employees and the HR team about benefit options and make sure the company complies with all applicable laws. Human resources managers typically offer comprehensive instructions and tips to help employees become familiar with their options and understand how to access and claim their benefits.

Negotiating employee compensation

Human resources managers help hiring managers decide how much to offer a new hire in compensation and how much they're willing to increase that offer if the person wants to negotiate. They work with the payroll and finance departments to determine a budget for new hires in each department. They also consult with department heads and executives. HR managers also help managers determine appropriate performance bonuses and raises.

Managing employee and labour relations

Human resources managers help managers maintain good relationships with their employees. They resolve disputes among departments and individuals, and take disciplinary action when needed. If the workplace has a union, they often take part in negotiations and make sure everyone follows the rules of the existing contract.

Monitoring compliance

Human resources managers make sure managers and department heads follow safety regulations, avoid discrimination, and only terminate employees in defined circumstances. They also keep track of the amount of vacation time people can take. This means that HR managers must learn all the company rules, the terms of any relevant union agreements, and the provincial/territorial and federal laws in their industry. They also keep track of any changes in regulations to ensure the company remains compliant.

Deciding on organizational structures

HR managers often help executives decide how to organize companies. They offer advice on a variety of topics, including how many employees each manager can supervise directly. They also assess how many meetings each department should have, which leaders should attend, and who can work from home.

Acting on feedback

Human resources managers act as liaisons between employees and employers. They review employee performance evaluations from supervisors, and they often investigate complaints from employees about managers. They use this information to help executives decide who deserves a promotion or raise and when to discipline others or provide additional training.


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Helpful skills for a human resource manager

Here are some of the types of skills that can help you become a successful human resources manager:


Human resources managers must make quick decisions and lead a variety of projects to motivate employees and help them develop their skills. They also find the most efficient ways to delegate tasks, provide guidance to employees, and increase the human resources department's efficiency and productivity. Some of the skills that make an effective leader include:

  • Patience

  • Active listening

  • Empathy

  • Reliability

  • Creativity

  • Dependability

  • A positive attitude

  • Teamwork

  • The ability to mentor and teach others

Related: Leadership Skills: Definitions and Examples


Human resources managers need to be organized and able to balance many complex tasks and deadlines. They need to be able to make sure employees meet deadlines and implement project management systems when needed. Some organizational skills include workspace arrangement, filing, record-keeping, and time management.

Read more: Developing Proficient Organizational Skills


Being able to communicate clearly and effectively is essential for a human resources manager. They communicate with front-line staff members, supervisors, and executives every day. They may also speak publicly to executives, the entire company, or colleagues attending a human resources conference. Some important communication skills include:

  • Friendliness

  • Confidence

  • The ability to give and receive feedback

  • Clear, understandable writing and speech

  • The ability to understand nonverbal cues such as body language

Read more: Communication Skills: Definitions and Examples


People often turn to human resources managers to resolve conflicts between employees and solve problems before they become more severe. They need to be flexible, consult with executives and department heads when needed, and accurately document the problem and response. HR managers need to consider the long-term consequences of their actions and use reasoning and critical thinking skills.

Read more: Problem-Solving Skills: Definitions and Examples

Attention to detail

When managing employees, attention to detail is essential. Human resource managers need this skill to spot violations of laws or regulations and notice mistakes made by staff members and give constructive feedback. The ability to focus on a task to ensure they can give it their undivided attention is important for people in this profession.

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How to become a human resource manager

Here are some steps to help you start your career as a human resources manager:

1. Earn a degree

You'll need at least a bachelor's degree for most human resource manager positions. Degrees in human resources management, business, and related fields are most helpful. No matter which degree you choose, consider taking some communication, business, and psychology courses. Online classes are available at many universities, and you can research the requirements for admission before applying.

2. Find an entry-level role

While you attend university, look for internships that can help you practice your skills, gain essential experience, and build relationships with other HR professionals to increase your networking opportunities. When you graduate, you can ask for a letter of recommendation from your supervisor or apply for a more long-term position.

When you search for an entry-level human resources position, apply to positions even if you don't meet all the requirements. If employers have a long list of criteria, you still could be the best candidate for the job. People in entry-level human resources positions often complete administrative tasks like filing records and facilitating training programs.

Related: How To Get an Entry-Level Human Resources Job (With Skills)

3. Pursue additional training

Pursue any additional training that could help you succeed as a human resources manager. You can consider training from your employer or from other credible organizations, like professional associations. After some training courses, you can take an exam to receive a certification. Adding certifications to your resume can make you more attractive to hiring managers and help you get your first human resources manager job.

4. Search for a leadership role

Look for ways to take on greater responsibilities in your current role by discussing your ambitions with your supervisor or applying for a promotion when one is available. You can also apply for positions at other companies. To become a human resources manager, highlight your most recent experience at the top of your resume. With each position, make a list of your most important accomplishments. When possible, use statistics to quantify your achievements. Then, include your education and your most valuable skills.

5. Consider graduate school

A master's degree can help you get a position as a human resources manager and continue advancing your career after you get your first management job. Discuss the programs available with other managers and mentors to make sure you choose one that's best for your needs.

6. Learn more about human resources technologies

Human resources tools and software help human resource managers do their jobs efficiently by automating many simple tasks. HR managers use this software to help them manage payroll, business expenses, recruiting, the human resources budget, and more. Learning about the latest versions of these tools and listing those skills on your resume can help you get an interview for a great human resources management position.

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