People First: The Top 7 Soft Skills to Master for a Job in HR
By Catherine Tansey
Today’s HR department is very different from that of yesterday’s. Once simply referred to as “Personnel,” the Human Resources office has evolved from a “keeping-the-lights-on” function to the strategic business driver it is today. In the era of advanced analytics and powerful human capital management systems, it’s easy to overlook the importance of HR soft skills needed for success. But it’s soft skills, the ability to communicate clearly, think critically, and work collaboratively that help keep us ahead of machines. Additionally, improving soft skills also helps you develop meaningful relationships in the workplace and increase overall fulfillment in your job. For HR, these soft skills are not nice-to-haves, but business imperatives.
Teamwork and Collaboration
HR team members do a lot. Beyond the recruiting, interviewing, and hiring processes, HR members are tasked with making the workplace the best it can possibly be. With businesses becoming increasingly global, cross-functional, and collaborative, HR leaders are being called on to work with teams to improve their tactical execution of strategic initiatives. But to do so, HR professionals must be well versed in teamwork and collaboration themselves.
Because we communicate with others every day, most people tend to believe they are effective communicators. But communication and effective communication are very different things, and the majority could improve on the latter. As a people professional, communication should top the list of soft skills for HR to master. It will help you resolve problems, build lasting relationships, adeptly interview prospective clients, and boost your overall performance.
HR is responsible for keeping track of a wealth of information on employees, candidates, and the organization. HR professionals handle a lot of digital paperwork and need to remain highly organized to access it with ease. And as the business’ first point of contact with prospective candidates, organization helps HR professionals keep track of scheduling and candidate qualifications and create a positive first impression of the company.
Ability to Build Relationships
In the quest to source top talent and foster a healthy workplace, HR professionals must be able to make meaningful connections with prospective candidates and current employees alike. Maintaining relationships with both candidates and employees helps build trust in the organization’s leadership, enables HR to successfully launch strategic initiatives, aids the securing and retaining of top talent, and supports better cross-functional collaboration and communication.
Empathy is increasingly considered a trait in short supply in our modern world. But it’s empathy—the willingness to understand where another is coming from—that helps us communicate effectively, collaborate on complex projects, lead by example, and develop fulfilling professional relationships. HR professionals are people professionals, and their dynamic and human-centric roles demand individuals who can work cooperatively with others from very different backgrounds while helping others do the same. Any HR soft skills list would be incomplete without empathy.
Today there are five generations in the workforce. Task forces and teams come together and disband quickly. Organizational hierarchies are shifting. All of which is to say: there is a lot of change happening in the workplace. And as creatures of habit, change can be difficult, and almost always is at work. But as we all know, change is inevitable and “if you dislike change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.” HR leaders are increasingly called on to help mediate the changes in the workplace, making change management a top human resource soft skill for any HR professional today.
Critical Thinking & Problem Solving
With a wealth of information only a few keystrokes away, we’ve become accustomed to finding answers with ease. But searching for answers on Google and critically thinking through a problem are very different. Human Resources professionals are tasked with diverse responsibilities that range from people management to problem management and beyond. Those who can see holistically and think critically to solve a problem are bound to be some of the most in-demand HR workers out there.
As an HR professional, you know the depth and breadth of your skills. You’ve mastered not only the skill required for various HCM technologies, but also the soft skills necessary to deliver on the other dynamic aspects of your job. As an expert communicator, organized professional, and master collaborator equipped with critical thinking skills and the ability to oversee change management, you want a role that allows you to apply and maximize these hard-earned skills. But finding the right role at the right organization is easier than it sounds, and the search can be frustrating—but it doesn’t have to be. With nearly 50 years of matching the best candidates to the best jobs, Nelson can help. Contact us today to find out how we’ll work to help you find the best fit for your HR background today.