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Five Key HR Skills

The role of an HR person revolves so much on helping other people in the company with their careers that often individuals in these roles find that their own career progression becomes stunted. As technology progresses, it’s difficult to foresee how the role of human resources will change as time goes on. The focus for people in these roles is likely to be steered more towards developing critical thinking and other ‘in-person’ skills that will enable them to perform even better in their careers – those in the know are certain that however advanced technological tools become, HR will always remain ‘human’. Here are five key skills that every HR person should develop and strengthen to become better at their jobs and progress in this field.

Judgement Skills

HR involves dealing with a lot of difficult situations, whether it’s a long-term illness of employees to bullying in the workplace or claims of inappropriate conduct between staff members. While there are no easy answers with any of these sensitive issues, the ability to stay calm, level-headed and know what the right decision is – no matter how difficult it might be to make it – is a crucial skill for HR people to have. Situational judgement and being able to comprehend the ramifications of different tricky scenarios helps people in these roles to be more efficient at their jobs. HR staff need to be able to avoid impulsive decisions and put their own biases and prejudices aside for the good of the company and the organisation’s employees.

Commercial Knowledge

It’s often argued, not always accurately, that people in HR don’t always have full comprehension of the commercial aspects of the business they work in. But to be successful in this role, it’s key that there is an in-depth understanding of the business models used by the company and the risks and challenges it faces in trying to achieve its set goals. HR people need to know how the business provides value to its customers, how it connects with them effectively and how to communicate efficiently with stakeholders both in and outside of the business. The type of people how can demonstrate that they’ve taken the time to understand how the company works and how it makes a profit are typical views as more motivated and focused, which is an incredibly hireable skill to have. It also makes it easier for these people to make informed decisions right from the start, which is exactly what employers want in a recruit.

Critical Thinking Skills

Studies have shown that having excellent critical thinking skills is one of the most important skills you can have in the workplace. For those working in HR especially, this valuable skill helps individuals to have the ability to question issues that arise, challenge decisions when necessary and analyse evidence critically to gain a thorough understanding of situations that affect the business. Critical thinking skills allow you to take on tasks and approach problems objectively and to evaluate proposed solutions from an unbiased perspective, as well as come up with new thoughts and insights as you make connections between different ideas.

Tech Skills

It’s not just people in HR who need to step up their game when it comes to digital literacy but with software such as cloud HR coming into play in more and more businesses, it’s vital that individuals in this role know their way around computers. Software like this is great for automating processes and taking the load off of administrative duties, as well as providing a great singular location for storing important information and data. Everything from recruitment to e-learning tools and engaging with employees can take place using cloud software, but it’s important that HR staff are fully up to speed with how to use different tools and computer programmes to really benefit from its capabilities. If you’re someone who doesn’t have strong tech skills, heading online to practice is actually one of the best places to learn – there are numerous online courses and training sites that can teach you the basics of computers and enhance your digital literacy for use in the workplace.

Managing Ethical Issues

Organisations in all different sectors come across ethical dilemmas, both as entire companies or with individual staff members. Everything from whistleblowing and environmental issues to money laundering and fraud can be a problem in business. As HR professionals, it’s vital that the skills to create a culture of openness and honesty when inappropriate behaviours are noticed and cultivated. Employees need to feel comfortable speaking the truth about what they know or suspect, without the fear of negative consequences or having their honest impact their job in any way.


While the landscape of HR is still healthy and thriving, with great job prospects for those already in the field or looking to enter a role in HR, staff still need to develop their skills to remain marketable to prospective employers. To boost your chances of career development and progression, it’s important to focus on transferable skills and gaining as much experience as possible from different disciplines, even if it’s just through a short-term project. Having these abilities on your CV will help you to gain more knowledge and become an essential employee, wherever you decide to work in the future.

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