Top 13 HR Skills Employers Are Looking For (2023)

Top 13 HR Skills Employers Are Looking For (1)

There is a strange dynamic when applying for a position in the human resources (HR) department. As a candidate, you sit on one side of the table, but - in many cases - if you get the job, you can simply jump over that table and take a recruiting position.

An HR career is not for the faint of heart. Being a trusted advisor to managers who make hiring and firing decisions, monitor employee welfare, and deal with the company's most sensitive data isn't for everyone. You feel ready for the challenge, but you want to know exactly what will be expected of you. This readiness is especially important given how well your potential interviewees know the business – you need to know your business.

We are here to help you prepare and better understand what employers are looking for. To that end, we spoke with several HR professionals and used real-time job analysis software to analyze more than 140,000 HR job openings over the past year.1The data helped us identify the thirteen most important skills employers are looking for in HR candidates.

Of course, the list of skills and competencies commonly sought by HR professionals is only a starting point for researching the requirements for a particular position. We'll help by expanding on each one—and what you can do to demonstrate those skills and abilities as a potential HR candidate.

13 HR skills are in demand

  • Relations among employees
  • The process of incorporating a new employee into the company
  • Human Resource Management Software (HRIS)
  • Performance management
  • Teamwork and cooperation
  • Planning
  • Payment processing
  • Customer service
  • Project management
  • Compensation of employees
  • Technological possibilities
  • Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

As you consider your expertise in each of the HR skills and competencies listed, think about how you can present them in the interview and in your human resourcesreturn.

Read on for a deeper insight!

1. Relations with employees

Successful companies thrive on secure employee-employer relationships and professionals who support those relationships. The ability to recognize and solve employee problems as they develop creates a more satisfying work environment for both employees and employers. This is a relatively broad area of ​​human resources - everything from labor disputes to managing employee compensation packages can relate to it. Basically, it all comes down to the ability to resolve conflicts and advocate for both your employer and your employees.

How to emphasize it during a job interview:Ask yourself if you have ever been involved in a disagreement between two people in a professional setting. How did you work to resolve their differences in a respectful, empathetic and effective manner? Be precise. What soft skills were important to use? How did you solve the problems and determine the result? It's also an opportunity to highlight your knowledge of employment law and key employer-employee dispute resolution regulations.

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2. Implementation

Staff turnover is costly, and an effective onboarding process can help reduce it. Onboarding refers to the process that allows new employees to quickly and smoothly adjust to the social and performance aspects of their new job. Companies are looking for HR professionals who can easily "on-board" new hires through structured and thoughtful processes, increasing the chances that they will adapt happily and successfully to their new positions in the long term.

How to emphasize it during a job interview:Share a moment when you helped someone feel at home or made a difference. Concrete examples of taking the initiative to prevent injuries and promote open communication among co-workers demonstrate your ability to grow in the HR role.

3. Human resource management software (HRIS)

Human resource information softwareare IT tools for electronic management of HR activities and processes. There are many specialized HRIS systems, but most of them have similar basic functions that help automate some of the more tedious tasks that HR staff would perform.

How to emphasize it during a job interview:It's true that this can be difficult to fulfill if you haven't worked in an HR role before. If you have experience working with HRIS, it's a good idea to mention which software you worked with and how you used it.

If you are new to this software, it would be best to show how you have learned to use other software and relate it to your desire to learn quickly. Most of them are pretty intuitive, so it probably won't be a big deal for most employers.

4. Implementation

Hiring qualified and sought-after employees is an art in itself. HR professionals need a deep understanding of their company in order to attract solid, talented employees who will stay with the company.Recruitersthey often have their own specialized role, but finding talent is also a valuable skill for generalists.

How to emphasize it during a job interview:It's not always easy to point to a direct example if you're new to the field, but anything that highlights your ability to listen well, negotiate, build relationships, organize and be decisive can be a good starting point.

5. Performance management

Performance management is defined as the way a company engages its employees to improve performance in achieving company goals as defined by the companyUS Office of Personnel Management (OPM®). OPM lists performance management tasks that fall under this umbrella, such as setting expectations for employees, monitoring performance, developing their ability to perform, and evaluating performance. This skill relies heavily on strong communication and interpersonal skills and can help in the long runemployment trends.

"If you're planning a career in HR, you should have excellent listening skills, empathy and emotional intelligence," says Sophie Lhoutellier, head of human resources atkarte jazavca®. “I would like more HR candidates to demonstrate excellent listening skills as well as being proactive. People often forget that they are here to listen to employees and their needs and do everything in their power to make the company a better place to work.”

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How to emphasize it during a job interview:Discuss your experience teaching, tutoring, teaching or mentoring someone else. Think of a time when actually listening to what someone was saying helped you solve a problem. Highlight these experiences on your resume and be prepared to talk about them in a way that shows you're open, tolerant and versatile.

6. Team work and cooperation

"As HR professionals focus on finding and creating the best workplace possible, it's extremely important that we find associates who believe in our mission," says Vicki Choi, Director of Human Resources atThe hero of the course. You might think teamwork is something that goes without saying in a field like HR, but it's in such high demand that it's ranked among the top five skills in job ads.

This can reflect the mindset of HR professionals who look at the overall vision of the company, not just the policies and tasks that make up their day-to-day work. "I would like to see more candidates focused on change and growth, not just working with existing HR processes," says Lhoutellier.

How to emphasize it during a job interview:Collaboration in HR often means collaborating with experts from many different departments, some of which may be outside your personal wheelhouse. It's important to know what you areNOknow - and want to learn.

"Candidates who stand out in the interview can demonstrate that they communicate honestly and are willing to talk openly about their successes, failures and progress," explains Choi. "We've found that candidates who demonstrate these skills continue to create value for our HR team and the company as a whole."

7. Planning

Employers want HR candidates with planning skills because many jobs involve juggling and prioritizing tasks on a team or company calendar. It is important to be able to create a plan that allows everyone to reach their goals.

How to emphasize it during a job interview:Ask yourself if you have experience planning a multi-phase project and how you've had to strategically organize and prioritize time to complete each task along the way. It can be for a wedding, a school project or even a holiday abroad.

8. Processing of salaries

Understanding how an organization's payroll system works is important for many HR roles, especially those that focus on employee benefits. For example, if an employee has decided to change their 401k contribution level and finds that the change is not reflected in their paycheck, an HR professional may be able to explain and help resolve the issue. Compensation and benefits can be quite complex, so a good understanding of the payroll system is helpful.

How to emphasize it during a job interview:When you're just starting out, it can be a challenge to pull this off with no prior experience. Additionally, knowing how payroll and HR interact and where their responsibilities overlap is critical if you are asked about this topic.

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9. Customer service

HR professionals need a lot of management and leadership skills to do their jobs. But customer service skills are a big part of solving problems in the workplace. HR professionals spend a lot of time in conflict situations. According to Joe Campagna, ownerMy virtual HR directorJust being human is not enough to deal with discipline, mediation and grievance resolution.

How to emphasize it during a job interview:"I give priority to candidates who have experience working with people and helping them in some way," says Lhoutellier. He gives examples such as volunteering, teaching or coaching. "This shows that they have empathy, which is the basis of any HR position. You can teach some tasks of an HR role, but it's much harder to teach soft skills like empathy and communication."

10. Project management

"In addition to day-to-day administrative duties, HR is almost always involved in some major project," says Campagna. "It could be writing a manual, installing a performance management system, or any of a myriad of HR projects from HRIS to employee surveys."

How to emphasize it during a job interview:If you have already managed even a small project - be sure to include this information in your resume. If not, showing assertiveness, leadership and a great work ethic can help with this skill. "HR is not a picnic department, it's a productivity department," says Campagna. "If HR can't align managers with goals and ask the tough questions, then it's not worth it."

11. Workers' compensation

The Human Resources Department deals with all cases of work-related injuries or illnesses. Every company should have an action plan and a workers' compensation plan for workers injured on the job that complies with state and federal law. HR representatives need to understand workers' compensation laws and know how to help the employee and the company through the compensation process.

As pointed out in the interview:Because an injury incident can be stressful, good communication and professionalism are key in compensation discussions. If you haven't had experience with workers' compensation, try to demonstrate your ability to remain professional and compassionate in the event of a conflict.

"The most important soft skills for an HR professional are conflict management and ethics," says Eva Wislow, head of human resources at the company.Career starter. "Listening to others, solving problems respectfully and appropriately while dealing with a lot of sensitive information are the most common tasks in this position."

12. Technological possibilities

While tech skills didn't appear in the top 10 skills employers are looking for in their job postings, many of our experts agreed that being tech-savvy is a competitive advantage. According to Wislow, that could be anything from data analytics to virtual reality adaptations in HR.

"HR candidates should love numbers and data, forecasting and analytics," says Wislow. "Many HR professionals make all kinds of decisions without looking at the numbers - their work revolves around theory and policy." Wislow adds that many job candidates get lost when data analysis and projection enter the conversation.

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How to emphasize it during a job interview:Data science courses or certifications would be great things to consider. Be sure to read what's happening in the industry, as well as what technologies are trending. "New hires should be up-to-date on the latest HR trends," says Wislow. "Big data, gamification, virtual reality in HR - everything is here."

13. Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

TheLaw on family medical leaveit was enacted in 1993 and covers skilled workers for up to 12 weeks of unpaid work-protected leave for various family or health reasons. When working in HR, knowing this law and its various elements will be a key part of the job that you need to be aware of.

How to emphasize it during a job interview:If you are currently unfamiliar with FMLA,read about it. Being able to relate to this law and some of its different uses for employees will only emphasize to your interviewers that you know your business.

Are your HR skills up to par?

As you can see, human resources professional skills are much more than good people relations. If you could see yourself in some of these skills, you might have what it takes to advance in human resources. "Go to HR because you like to organize chaos," says Campagna. "Go into HR because you enjoy making a positive impact on people's lives by influencing employee-friendly compensation, benefits packages and policies."

If you don't feel like you've mastered these skills enough to list them on your resume, fear not. This is the knowledge and experience you will gain from the HR program. Visit Rasmussen University and learn more about how you can develop your HR skillsHuman resources and organizational leadership site. (Analysis of 211,391 HR jobs, July 1, 2021 - June 30, 2022).

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article was originally published in July 2013. It has since been updated to reflect information for 2022.

OPM is a registered trademark of the United States Office of Personnel Management.
Badger Maps is a registered trademark of Badger Maps, Inc.
Course Hero is a registered trademark of Course Hero, Inc.

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What is the #1 skill that employers are looking for? ›

Critical thinking and problem solving. Teamwork and collaboration. Professionalism and strong work ethic. Oral and written communications skills.

Can you list 4 skills you think are most important for an HR professional to have and why? ›

HR professionals need many skills, including active listening, verbal and non-verbal communication, social awareness, self-management, accountability, and so on. People with high interpersonal skills are intuitively good communicators and efficient managers, and this type of person can thrive as an HR professional.

Which are the most important skills needed to work successfully with HR? ›

HR Skills and Competencies
  • Business Management & Leadership Skills. ...
  • Human Capital Development Skills. ...
  • Communication & Interpersonal Skills. ...
  • Strategic Thinking & Planning Skills. ...
  • Workplace Culture Development Skills.

What skills do employees need in 2023? ›

Here are the top 10 skills employers are looking for on resumes in 2023:
  • Adaptability. Adaptability is a key soft skill that employers are looking for in 2023. ...
  • Creativity. ...
  • Collaboration. ...
  • Self-motivation. ...
  • Problem-solving. ...
  • Communication. ...
  • Time management. ...
  • Digital literacy.

What 3 qualities do employers look for when hiring employees? ›

Desired Candidate Attributes
  • Leadership. Even in entry-level positions, most employers look for evidence of leadership qualities. ...
  • Teamwork. ...
  • Communication and Interpersonal Skills. ...
  • Analytical Skills. ...
  • Dependability and a Strong Work Ethic. ...
  • Maturity and a Professional Attitude. ...
  • Adaptability and Flexibility. ...
  • Good Personality.

What are 3 skills an HR professional should have? ›

Whether you're a seasoned HR professional or an intern, your HR skills such as communication skills, employee relationships, decision-making, performance management, and organizational skills need to be sharp.

What are the 8 HR competencies? ›

In 2011, SHRM began years of extensive research involving thousands of HR professionals to develop the SHRM Competency Model, which identifies eight key Behavioral Competencies: Ethical Practice, Leadership & Navigation, Business Acumen, Relationship Management, Communication, Consultation, Critical Evaluation, and ...

What soft skills do HR require? ›


In terms of good soft skills, both verbal and written communication is key. This includes the ability to compose emails or text messages, as well as to speak clearly and concisely. Active listening is also considered in this sense too.

What 3 main factors would convince you to take on an HR career? ›

Here are 7 reasons you may want to consider a career in HR:
  • Help others. ...
  • Position of influence. ...
  • Stable career. ...
  • Problem-solving. ...
  • Create a positive working environment. ...
  • Work for people. ...
  • Diverse roles and exciting things to do. ...
  • Human resources assistant.
Mar 10, 2023

What are the 4 basic competencies that HR professionals will need? ›

Here Are The 7 Core HR Skills And Competencies Every HR Professional Must Have
  • Effective Communication. Hr professionals must have impeccable communication skills. ...
  • Relationship-building. ...
  • Adaptability Skills. ...
  • Technological Skills. ...
  • Keep Learning. ...
  • Critical Thinking. ...
  • Interpersonal skills.
Apr 27, 2023

What is the most important in HR? ›

One of HR's primary roles is managing payment and benefits for an organization's staff. Proper management of compensation, time off, and insurance is what keeps employee satisfaction high. As a human resource manager, you'll be in charge of distributing, communicating, and improving compensation and benefits packages.

What is the most valuable skill to learn in 2023? ›

Most Profitable Skills to Learn in 2023
  1. Digital marketing.
  2. Copywriting.
  3. Tech skills.
  4. Sales.
  5. Design – UX, graphic, or visual.
  6. Video Filming & Editing.
  7. Project Management.
  8. Foreign Language.

What are the top 5 skills of 2025? ›

2. What are the in-demand skills of 2025?
  • Analytical thinking and innovation.
  • Active learning and learning strategies.
  • Complex problem-solving.
  • Critical thinking and analysis.
  • Creativity, originality and initiative.
  • Leadership and social influence.
  • Technology use, monitoring and control.
  • Technology design and programming.

What are the 4 C's of employability? ›

Are you familiar with the Four Cs? I first discovered them in Yaval Noah Harari's “21 Lessons for the 21st Century.” They are: critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication. Knowing how to apply those four ideas will help prepare you to adapt and excel in your career, today and in our uncertain future.

What are the 5 super skills of a job? ›

Trends in recruiting: super skills and micro-skills

Super skills are defined by one expert as “the 'components' that make up the unique 'operating system' of a person.” Things like critical thinking, creativity, coachability, leadership, and problem-solving qualify as super skills.

What makes an employee stand out? ›

You Show Integrity

More than anything, we value integrity—people who are honest about their time at the office, work hard, and are committed to the company. Bright employees who figure out shortcuts can be a liability. Integrity is the most valuable quality.

What do managers look for when hiring? ›

But no matter what the job, hiring managers are essentially looking for three things: You are capable of doing what the position demands. You are interested in the kind of work the job requires. You will fit in well within the team and organization.

What makes you the perfect candidate? ›

As such, you must prove to the hiring manager that: You are fit for the job and capable of delivering excellent results. You possess skills that are unique, and likely unteachable, which makes you an above average candidate. You'll be an asset to the company and a perfect fit for the team.

What are the 3 C's of HR? ›

In human resources, the three Cs refer to compensation, career path, and culture.

What are the 5 core HR activities? ›

Human Resources manages 5 main duties: talent management, compensation and employee benefits, training and development, compliance, and workplace safety.

What are the 5 points of HR? ›

The 5 Core Human Resources Functions
  • Compensation and Benefits. ...
  • Recruiting and Staffing. ...
  • Safety and Compliance. ...
  • Training and Development. ...
  • Talent Management.
Jun 4, 2021

What are the 15 competencies? ›

What are the competencies?
  • Service Orientation.
  • Social Skills.
  • Cultural Competence.
  • Teamwork.
  • Oral Communication.
  • Ethical Responsibility to Self and Others.
  • Reliability and Dependability.
  • Resilience and Adaptability.

What are the 9 core competencies of HR? ›

We have identified nine key business competencies that HR professionals need to be effective in the workplace: Effective communication; consultation; ethical practice; critical evaluation; business acumen; leadership and navigation; technical expertise; cross-cultural awareness, and relationship management.

What are the 9 basic competencies? ›

What Are the 9 Core Competencies? The 9 Core Competencies are vision, customer, goals, people, culture, data, meetings, process, and enterprise value.

What are technical skills in HR? ›

What are technical human resource skills? Technical human resource skills are skills that relate to the daily tasks of HR professionals. These skills help HR employees and managers alike to find and hire talented individuals, manage payroll and communicate ideas between upper management and lower-level employees.

How can I improve my HR skills? ›

6 Tips For Climbing the HR Career Ladder
  1. Be Proactive. A proactive attitude can help in any career, but it's especially important in HR. ...
  2. Learn the Full Scope of HR. ...
  3. Consider Certification. ...
  4. Spend Time Outside the HR Bubble. ...
  5. Utilize Free Resources. ...
  6. Highlight Relevant Skills.

What makes a strong HR? ›

As an HR Leader you spend a large proportion of your time interacting with employees, your team and other stakeholders. Good communication skills are not only important, they are critical. This goes beyond being easy to talk to or good at holding a conversation. Great HR leaders are also excellent and active listeners.

What is the most difficult job in HR? ›

What is one most challenging tasks of an HR Manager?
  • Implementing Diversity in the Workplace.
  • Staying Up to Date On Legal Matters.
  • The Entire Recruiting Process.
  • Balancing Compensation and Retention.
  • Having to Terminate or Lay Off Employees.
  • Asking Leadership for Support and Resources.
  • Workforce Relationship Building.
Aug 30, 2022

Which of the three primary HR activities is most challenging why? ›

Managing Employee Attitude and Behavior is the most difficult of the three HR tasks. The other two activities are objective phenomena in which we can determine what is good and bad, and they have real worth. But, it is challenging to engage in the subjective phenomena of attitude and behavior.

Is HR good career for introverts? ›

Introverts are often good listeners—which is a key asset for HR professionals as well as an opportunity to engage with others. “I observe people and learn about their interests,” says Stan Bowman, an HR manager at Shepherd Oil Company LLC in Blackwell, Okla. “My goal always is to find a common ground.

What are the four core HR areas? ›

The four (4) core HRM Systems consists of: (1) recruitment, selection, and placement; (2) learning and development; (3) performance management; and, (4) rewards and recognition.

What is the most important in 5 core specialties of HR? ›

Recruitment and onboarding are by far the most important areas of HR management. Hiring candidates who align with your organization's culture and values will maximize your productivity and growth. To recruit the right candidates, your HR team must: Understand the recruitment needs of different departments.

What are the 7 HR functions? ›

Recruitment & selection, performance management, learning & development, succession planning, compensation and benefits, Human Resources Information Systems, and HR data and analytics are considered cornerstones of effective HRM.

What is important HR strategy? ›

What is an HR strategy? HR strategy is a roadmap for solving an organization's biggest challenges with people-centric solutions. This approach requires HR input during policy creation and elevates the importance of recruitment, talent management, compensation, succession planning and corporate culture.

What top 5 skills needed in 2030? ›

Future Skills You'll Need In Your Career By 2030
  • Cognitive flexibility. ...
  • Digital literacy and computational thinking. ...
  • Judgement and decision-making. ...
  • Emotional and social intelligence. ...
  • Creative and innovative mindset.

What's a high income skill? ›

What is a high-income skill? A high-income skill is a personal proficiency you can leverage in order to get paid more in the marketplace. It's often a soft skill that few other people have, like passion, communication or reliability, and is sometimes industry-specific.

What is the new skill for 2025? ›

The same report predicts that the following skills will be in high demand by 2025: Data Science & Cloud Computing (Cloud computing goes hand in hand with data science, and cloud computing jobs range from architects and developers to data scientists) Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML)

What is high job demand? ›

A high-demand job typically means that either there are more opportunities than qualified candidates to fill them, or that there will be more jobs available over the next several years.

What skills are employers looking for in 2023? ›

Top 10 Skills Employers Want to See on a Resume in 2023
  • Adaptability. Adaptability is a key soft skill that employers are looking for in 2023. ...
  • Creativity. ...
  • Collaboration. ...
  • Self-motivation. ...
  • Problem-solving. ...
  • Communication. ...
  • Time management. ...
  • Digital literacy.

What is the top soft skill that employers look for? ›

Companies have identified the following competencies as key to the success of young workers in the 21st century workplace.
  • Networking. ...
  • Enthusiasm. ...
  • Professionalism. ...
  • Communication Skills. ...
  • Teamwork. ...
  • Problem Solving and Critical Thinking. ...
  • Resources.

What are the 3 qualities you look in a company? ›

Let's start by taking a look at the characteristics of an ideal workplace:
  • Trust. Trust exists both ways, and every employee rely on each other to “watch over each other's back”. ...
  • Engagement. Employees are focused and keen to take up work challenges as well as acquire new skills and knowledge. ...
  • Transparency. ...
  • Communication.

What is the number one skill that employees look for in an employee? ›

Communication is the number one soft skill employers seek. This includes good verbal and written communication, as well as active listening. Whether you're a CEO or an entry-level employee, good communication skills will always be a critical part of any team.


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