In today’s fast-paced world, it’s not enough to just want to reach a destination. Preparing for the trip is a prerequisite. So learning relevant skills has become crucial in helping you land a job and transition into working life with less difficulty. The field of HR (human resources) has become very popular in today’s job market, with many local graduates opting for full-time HR positions. If you plan to succeed in HR, here are some skills you need to hone to succeed in this engaging field.
Desire to learn
One of the “skills” you need to be successful anywhere – not just in HR – is a thirst for learning. Syeda Adiba Arif, HR Executive – Marketing at British American Tobacco Bangladesh, points out that most workplaces do not expect new graduates to have fully developed specialist skills. “What matters is that they embody the motivation and learning agility to quickly learn these things and embark on a journey of self-improvement,” says Adiba. Susmita Shahreen Newaz, Human Resources Generalist at SELISE Digital Platforms, agrees. She says, “As an employee advocate, we must maintain best practices and company regulations and be up to date on various company policies and laws. Thus, according to her, it is important to have the desire to learn and research to manage compliance and obtain certifications for the company.
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HR professionals need to communicate with multiple stakeholders at different stages of the organizational hierarchy, and so each time their approach needs to be tailored to who they are talking to. As Susmita says, “The one thing we always have to remember is that the first part of ‘Human Resources’ is ‘Human’. Most of the work is mainly about communicating with people.” Regarding the importance of HR in business, she says, “HR personnel are the first person employees meet on their first day on the job, and it’s important to create a positive first impression of our side. You have to be the right mix of approachable and professional people.” Working in HR requires listening to others, which Susmita says is a key trait: “Active listening when employees need a vent, giving helpful information, keeping questions private confidential information, empathizing with their circumstances, and making a sincere effort to improve their office experience is key to building strong relationships with employees.” According to her, being in HR means being the bridge between her colleagues and the management of the company, which is not always easy, especially when it comes to conflicts at work.
HR should provide a safe space where employees can speak up about issues and encourage conversations. This should give both sides in the conflict an adequate opportunity to tell their side of the story. Thus, when mediating conflicts, it is necessary for HR to actively listen to both parties, reduce tensions and work towards a practical solution. As mediators, HR can also remain vigilant to detect possible sources of disagreement. It is also important for HR staff to be able to think strategically, as they will, at some point, be responsible for developing and executing strategy. Creating strategies that support overall organizational goals will help all HR staff produce more positive results in their work.
Emotional intelligence and proactivity
Being emotionally intelligent is another essential HR skill, seeing how HR staff should listen, understand and connect with employees. Sometimes all employees need is someone to lend an ear. As Susmita puts it, “Employees are often reluctant to admit their true feelings, or may not even be self-aware enough to recognize them.” An emotionally savvy HR professional can recognize the emotional drivers behind behavior and work through issues with them. Although more of a personality trait, being proactive instead of reactive will also allow you to take preventative action. So instead of just reacting to current and emerging trends in areas like workplace culture and technology, you can design training and programs to anticipate change.
Be data driven
Being analytical and data-driven has become a growing trend in HR in recent years. As Ashraful Shabab, HRBP-Customer Development & DFF and Wellbeing Lead at Unilever Bangladesh Limited states, “Leading FMCGs are taking the initiative to be more data-driven and have more digital skills in their fields. information of all the data you have is a fundamental skill.” He believes that having experience with Microsoft PowerPoint, Excel, Word and related software, as well as knowing how to learn from data, are essential HR skills. “If you’re proficient in Tableau or Power BI, it will help you with data visualization, which leads to insights faster,” he adds.
Knowing the function you are partnering with is also a prerequisite. Ashraful thinks it’s very important to know the function you work with or the division you deal with. The Sales HRBP cannot support people in this area without understanding how sales happen. Additionally, HR personnel with expertise in employee experience can create humanistic, employee-centric workplaces. Since they understand every step of an employee’s journey, they can ensure a fantastic experience from start to finish, which helps the organization attract and retain the right talent.
Advice for future HR professionals
Aspiring HR professionals can take steps to help develop these skills early in their careers, such as during their undergraduate studies. There are various academic and extracurricular activities to help develop soft and hard skills that can help students later in life. According to Syeda, “Students can organically learn useful soft skills such as collaborative teamwork, communication skills, problem solving, and negotiation in a wide range of settings such as classrooms, part-time jobs, debating contests, business contests, and even difficult personal circumstances.”
Varsity clubs are also great places to learn some of these necessary skills. As Susmita advises, “Joining a college club can help you learn many of the skills you need as an HR professional. It helps you learn how to organize events, talk to different vendors and sponsors, manage people and build teams, and work in groups that include people from different backgrounds. It helps you tremendously in developing your communication and networking skills.” She further suggests that for interns and junior HR generalists, investing time in Udemy can pay off, as it offers informative videos and courses that explain many key HR concepts. Ashraful has a similar view. “Being part of the event management, especially the logistics team, is very helpful. You’ll get an end-to-end idea of the operations that underpin the success of a project,” he says. He adds that being in event management also captures the idea of how an event is initiated through a strategic perspective: how it is then taken through the various levels and ultimately, executed.
Being in HR can seem daunting at first, but with the right amount of dedication, success in this field is entirely possible. Ultimately, it’s important to show off, expose yourself to new things, and learn all you can and have the opportunity to do so.