If you pursue a career as a human resources generalist, your responsibilities are going to be pretty varied. The key to understanding this career path is in the word ‘general’. These guys generally do a bit of everything in the HR department’s remit. They don’t specialise in any particular area but get involved with each and every HR specialism.
Out of all the different kinds of HR career, generalists are arguably the most important. These guys tie all the HR activity together and keep everything ticking along nicely. In the same week, you could be responsible for recruiting and staffing, assisting with the development and implementation of HR policies, and getting involved with employee relations counselling.
By choosing to start off your HR career within the generalist arena, you are able to take on a much wider range of responsibilities. Consequently, you can gain a greater range of experiences. This provides you with more options for career progression.
Specialist vs. generalist HR career paths
You can choose to specialise in one of the many specific areas of HR, or you can continue down the generalist route and climb the ladder all the way up to become a human resources director.
If you like variety in your work, you are incredibly well-organised, and you are a consummate multi-tasker, then a HR generalist career could be right up your street.
If you take the HR generalist route, then you are likely to begin your career as an HR administrator, coordinator, or assistant. Understandably, in these roles you will be carrying out essential HR administration work, updating employee records, assisting with recruitment and referencing, and managing monthly payroll submissions.
What does an HR officer do?
Taking a step up in an HR generalist career will mean becoming an HR officer. In this role you are going to be getting more involved in developing and implementing HR policies that concern a range of matters, from recruitment and pay, to diversity and employee relations.
In your increasingly consultative role, you will be getting in direct contact with the rest of the business, liaising with them, understanding their needs and helping them to understand policies and procedures. You may also be advising people on certain issues, such as pay, grievances and disciplinary procedures.
What does an HR advisor or HR business partner do?
As you move into an HR advisor or HR business partner role, your job becomes all about interaction and strategy. These guys act as intermediaries between the specialist HR functions and the business. They simultaneously act as the face of the HR department and the face of the business customer. It’s all about understanding business needs and balancing them with HR policies and procedures. They also advise different departments on how to develop and how to manage their personnel to meet the needs of the business.
What does an HR manager or HR director do?
HR managers and HR directors oversee all human resources activity, providing direct management and guidance to specialist HR departments and other generalist staff. These guys tend to have come all the way up through a generalist HR route themselves, and thus have a really broad range of knowledge and experience in the different areas of human resources.
If you see yourself as a ‘jack of all trades’ type then a career as a human resources generalist could be exactly what you’re looking for!