13 Top Human Resources Job Skills Employers Are Seeking (2023)

13 Top Human Resources Job Skills Employers Are Seeking (1)

There’s a strange dynamic at play when applying for a position in human resources (HR). You sit on one side of the desk as an applicant, but—in many cases—if you land the job, you might just vault right over that desk into the hiring seat.

Pursuing an HR career is not for the faint of heart. Being a trusted consultant for managers making hiring and firing decisions, keeping watch over employee welfare and handling a company’s most sensitive information isn’t for everyone. You feel like you’re up for the challenge but want to know what exactly will be expected of you. This preparedness is especially important, given how well your potential interviewers may know the job—you’ve got to know your stuff.

We’re here to help you prepare and better understand what employers are seeking. To do this, we spoke to a few HR professionals and used real-time job analysis software to examine more than 140,000 human resources job postings from the past year.1 The data helped us identify the top thirteen skills employers are seeking in HR candidates.

Of course, a list of commonly sought-after skills and competencies for HR professionals is only a starting point for exploring the demands of a role. We’ll help by expanding on each—and what you can do to showcase these skills and abilities as a prospective HR hopeful.

13 In-demand human resources skills

  • Employee relations
  • Onboarding
  • Human resources information software (HRIS)
  • Performance management
  • Teamwork and collaboration
  • Scheduling
  • Payroll processing
  • Customer service
  • Project management
  • Worker's compensation
  • Technological aptitude
  • Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

As you consider your proficiency in each of the HR skills and competencies listed, think about how you could represent them in an interview and on your human resources resume.

Read on to get a more in-depth look!

1. Employee relations

Successful businesses thrive on secure employee–employer relationships and the professionals who support those connections. Being able to identify and resolve employee concerns as they develop creates a more satisfying work environment for employees and employers alike. This is a relatively broad area in the HR field—everything from labor disputes to managing employee benefits packages can be tied to it. Fundamentally, it comes down to your ability to manage conflict and be an advocate for both your employer and its employees.

How to highlight this in a job interview: Ask yourself if there was a time when you were involved in a discrepancy between two individuals in a professional setting. How did you work to resolve their differences in a respectful, empathetic and efficient way? Be specific. Which soft skills were important to use? How did you address concerns and determine an outcome? This is also an opportunity to highlight your knowledge of labor laws and the key regulations surrounding employer–employee disputes.

2. Onboarding

Employee turnover is expensive, and a strong onboarding process can help reduce it. Onboarding refers to the process that allows new hires to become adjusted to the social and performance aspects of their new job quickly and smoothly. Companies are looking to hire HR professionals who can comfortably bring new hires “onboard” with orderly and well-thought-out processes, increasing the chance that they will settle happily and successfully into their new jobs for the long run.

How to highlight this in a job interview: Share occasions where you helped someone feel at home or make a transition. Specific examples of taking initiative to prevent hard feelings and promote open communication between co-workers will speak well of your ability to thrive in an HR position.

3. Human Resources Information Software (HRIS)

Human resources information software are IT tools used for managing HR-related activities and processes electronically. There are a variety of specialized HRIS systems out there, but most have similar core functionality that helps automate some of the more tedious work HR staffers would tend to.

How to highlight this in a job interview: This admittedly can be a tricky requirement to fulfill if you haven’t previously worked in an HR role. If you have any experience working with an HRIS system, it’s clearly a good idea to mention what software you’ve worked with and how you used it.

If you lack experience with this software, then your best bet may be showcasing how you’ve learned to use other software and tying it to your eagerness to quickly learn. Most are fairly intuitive, so this likely won’t be a big sticking point for most employers.

4. Onboarding

Recruiting skilled and sought-after employees is an art form of its own. HR professionals need to understand their company deeply to be able to draw in solid, talented employees who will stick around. Recruiters are often their own specialized role, but talent acquisition is also a valuable skill for generalists as well.

How to highlight this in a job interview: There isn’t always an easy direct example to highlight if you’re new to the field, but anything that highlights your ability to listen well, negotiate, build relationships, keep organized and stay determined can be a nice starting point.

5. Performance management

Performance management is defined as how a company involves its employees in improving effectiveness towards the accomplishment of company goals, according to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM®). The OPM lists performance management tasks that fall under this umbrella as setting expectations for employees, monitoring performance, developing their capacity to perform and rating performance. This skill relies heavily on strong communication and interpersonal abilities and can help with long-term employee tenure trends.

“If you’re pursuing a career in HR, then you should have great listening skills, empathy and emotional intelligence,” says Sophie Lhoutellier, HR manager at Badger Maps®. “I wish more HR applicants would show great listening skills as well as proactivity. People tend to forget that they’re here to listen to the employees and their needs, and to do everything they can to make the company a better place to work at.”

How to highlight this in a job interview: Talk about any experience you have teaching, coaching, tutoring or mentoring someone else. Think of times when really listening to what someone was saying helped you solve a problem. Highlight these experiences on your resume and be prepared to discuss them in a way that shows you’re open, tolerant and versatile.

6. Teamwork and collaboration

“Because HR professionals are focused on finding and creating the best workplace possible, it is extremely important that we find collaborative team members who believe in our mission,” says Vicki Choi, director of HR at Course Hero. You might think that teamwork would be a given in a field like HR, but it’s in demand to the point of making the top-five skills on job postings.

This could reflect a mindset of HR professionals who look to the overall vision of the company instead of just the rules and tasks that make up their daily work. “I wish that more applicants would be oriented toward change and growth instead of just working with the existing HR processes,” Lhoutellier says.

How to highlight this in a job interview: Collaborating in HR often means working with professionals from many different departments, some of which might be outside of your personal wheelhouse. It’s important to know what you don’t know—and be willing to learn.

“Candidates who stand out during the interview process are able to show that they communicate honestly and are willing to be transparent about their successes, failures and progress,” Choi explains. “We have found that candidates who show these skills continue to create value for our HR team and the entire company.”

7. Scheduling

Employers want HR candidates with scheduling skills because many positions require juggling and prioritizing tasks on a team or company calendar. It’s important to be able to create a plan that allows everyone to achieve their goals.

How to highlight this in a job interview: Ask yourself if you have experience planning a multi-step project and how you had to strategically organize and prioritize time to complete each task along the way. This could have been for a wedding, school project or even a vacation overseas.

8. Payroll processing

Understanding how an organization’s payroll processing system works is important for many HR roles, particularly those that focus on employee benefits. For instance, if an employee elected to change their 401k contribution level and finds that change isn’t reflected in their paycheck, an HR specialist may be able to clarify and assist with addressing this issue. Compensation and benefits can get fairly complex, so having a solid understanding of payroll systems is a helpful asset.

How to highlight this in a job interview: When just starting out, this may be a challenge to highlight without prior experience. That said, knowing how payroll and HR interact and where their responsibilities overlap is the key if you’re asked about this subject.

9. Customer service

Human resources professionals need plenty of management and leadership ability to do their jobs. But customer service skills are a huge part of resolving workplace issues. HR professionals spend lots of time in conflict situations. According to Joe Campagna, owner of My Virtual HR Director, simply being a people person isn’t enough to field discipline, mediation and receiving complaints.

How to highlight this in a job interview: “I prioritize candidates who have experience in working with and helping people in some way,” says Lhoutellier. She offers examples such as volunteering, tutoring or coaching. “It shows that they have empathy, which is at the heart of any HR position. You can teach certain tasks of an HR role, but it’s much more difficult to teach soft skills like empathy and communication.”

10. Project management

“Apart from day-to-day administrative duties, HR is almost always in the midst of some large project,” says Campagna. “It can be writing a handbook, installing a performance management system or any other of a myriad of HR-driven projects from HRIS to employee surveys.”

How to highlight this in a job interview: If you’ve managed even a small project before—definitely include that information on your resume. If not, showcasing assertiveness, leadership and a great work ethic can be helpful for this skill. “HR isn’t the picnic department, it’s the productivity department,” Campagna says. “If HR cannot align managers to goals and ask the tough questions, then it is not worth having in a company.”

11. Worker's compensation

HR handles any incidents of work-related injuries or illnesses. Each company should have a plan of action and compensation for employees who are hurt on the job that is in accordance with state and federal laws. HR representatives need to understand the laws regarding worker’s compensation and how to help the employee and company navigate the compensation process.

How to highlight this in an interview: Since an injury incident can be fraught with tension, having strong communication and professionalism is vital in compensation conversations. If you haven’t had experience with worker’s compensation, try to showcase your ability to remain professional and compassionate in conflict.

“The most important soft skills in a professional HR specialist are conflict management and ethics,” says Eva Wislow, HR manager at Careers Booster. “Listening to others, resolving issues in a respectful and appropriate way, all while handling lots of sensitive information are the most common tasks for this role.”

12. Technological aptitude

Though technology-specific skills didn’t appear in the top-ten skills employers are asking for in their job postings, many of our experts shared that being tech-savvy gives you an edge on the market. This could be anything from data analysis to virtual reality adaptations in HR, according to Wislow.

“HR applicants need to have love for numbers and data, projections and analysis,” Wislow says. “Many HR professionals make all kinds of decisions without looking at the numbers—their job revolves around theories and politics.” Wislow adds that many job candidates get lost when data analysis and projection come into the conversation.

How to highlight this in a job interview: Courses or certifications in data analytics would be excellent things to include. Definitely read up on what is happening in the industry, as well as which technologies are enabling the trends. “New employees should be up-to-date on the latest HR trends,” Wislow says. “Big data, gamification, virtual reality in HR—it’s all already here.”

13. Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The Family Medical Leave Act was passed in 1993, and it covers eligible employees for up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave due to various family or medical situations. During your work in HR, knowledge of this law and its various components will be a key part of the job that you need to be aware of.

How to highlight this in a job interview: If you are currently unfamiliar with the FMLA, read up on it. Being able to refer to this law and some of its different uses for employees will only highlight to your interviewers that you know your stuff.

Are your HR job skills up to par?

As you can see, there is a lot more to human resources job skills than being good with people. If you could see yourself getting into some of these aptitudes, you might have what it takes to thrive in human resources. “Go into HR because you like to make order out of chaos,” Campagna says. “Go into HR because you like to impact people’s lives for good by influencing pay, benefit packages and employee-friendly policies.”

If you don’t quite feel you’ve mastered these skills enough to list them on your human resources resume, don’t be intimidated. This is precisely the knowledge and experience you’ll acquire in an HR degree program. Learn more about how you can develop your HR skills by checking out the Rasmussen University Human Resources and Organizational Leadership degree page.

1Burning-Glass.com (analysis of 211,391 human resources job postings, Jul. 01, 2021 - Jun. 30, 2022).

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

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


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.

What skills are looked for in HR? ›

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 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 the four skills most desired by employers? ›

Employers responding to NACE's Job Outlook surveys have consistently indicated that critical thinking/problem solving, teamwork/collaboration, professionalism/work ethic, and oral/written communications are all essential competencies.

What are the three top skills for HR? ›

What are the top HR competencies? The top HR competencies include interpersonal skills, conflict resolution, communication, and administrative skills.

What are the three most important things in HR? ›

The 5 Main Roles in HR
  • Talent Management. The talent management team in the HR department covers a lot of ground. ...
  • Compensation and Benefits. ...
  • Training and Development. ...
  • HR Compliance. ...
  • Workplace Safety.
Jun 27, 2022

What skills do HR need in the future? ›

Aside from recruitment, onboarding and payroll and benefits management, HR practitioners' contributions to business have evolved as they adapt to the requirement of modern human capital management. These include forecasting and managing skills demands, recruitment investing, and talent development, among others.

What skills do HR managers need? ›

Required Skills/Abilities:
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills.
  • Excellent interpersonal, negotiation, and conflict resolution skills.
  • Excellent organizational skills and attention to detail.
  • Strong analytical and problem-solving skills.
  • Ability to prioritize tasks and to delegate them when appropriate.

What employers really look at on a resume? ›

Nine Things Recruiters and Employers Look for in a Resume
  • Roles and Responsibilities. ...
  • Experience. ...
  • Skills. ...
  • Results and Achievements. ...
  • Education. ...
  • Easy to Read. ...
  • No Inconsistencies. ...
  • Relevant Language.

What are the top 3 hard skills that a job applicant must possess at work? ›

It's vital that you understand these skills, and how you can show that you've developed them, in order to write a successful job application.
  • Resilience. ...
  • Commercial awareness. ...
  • Good communication. ...
  • Effective leadership and management. ...
  • Planning and research skills. ...
  • Adaptability. ...
  • Teamwork and interpersonal skills.

What are the top 10 common employability skills that employers look for? ›

Here are 10 of the most important employability skills that employers look for.
  • Problem-solving.
  • Communication skills.
  • Adaptability.
  • Collaboration.
  • Time management.
  • Organization.
  • Technology use.
  • Information use.

What does HR look for when hiring? ›

On resumes for positions in the HR department, HR employees typically look for experience in human resources, such as the responsibility of hiring people in the past, a history of effectively responding to the grievances of employees and a track record of hiring employees that have been a good fit for the roles they ...

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 employers look for in a good employee? ›

Look for employees on whom you can count to arrive on time and finish their tasks. Reliable employees take responsibility for their assignments and meet deadlines. They show integrity by completing tasks and showing up even when a leader isn't looking over their shoulder or offering praise.

What are the 8 career success skills employers say are essential? ›

The 8 Cornerstones include: attitude, career vision, self-management skills, fundamental skills, workplace skills, contacts, experience, and personal life.

What are the eight skills employers want? ›

8 Skills Employees Look For
  • Initiative. Many hiring managers value personal initiative nearly as much as hard skills. ...
  • Technical Literacy. ...
  • Tech-savvy. ...
  • Data Skills. ...
  • Digital Marketing. ...
  • SEO. ...
  • UX Design. ...
  • Written Communication.

What are 4 essential skills? ›

Successful individuals make a proactive effort to continuously develop 4 Essential Skills 1-Lead, 2-Manage, 3-Perform in their Job, 4-Communicate Effectively. This 4-pronged skillset applies to your job, no matter what your title or level in the hierarchy.

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 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 are the 4 components of human resources? ›

Four common elements were discovered during the review of the design and development of global HRD. Cooperation, collaboration, communication, and culture are the Four Cs that form the backbone of any global HRD organization.

What is needed for HR career? ›

Human Resource Manager

Becoming an HR manager requires a minimum of a bachelor's degree and around five years of experience. To accelerate your career and stand out from other candidates, pursue a master's in human resources.

What are the five human relations skills? ›

Important human relation skills
  • Collaboration.
  • Active listening.
  • Nonverbal communication.
  • Written communication.
  • Interpersonal skills.
Mar 10, 2023

What are the 6 duties of HR Manager? ›

A Complete Guide to Being an HR Manager: 6 Top Responsibilities
  • Recruitment and Hiring. ...
  • Employee Development and Training. ...
  • Performance Management and Appraisal. ...
  • Employee Relations and Engagement. ...
  • Compensation and Benefits. ...
  • Compliance and Legal Issues.
Mar 23, 2023

What is the 30 second rule for resume? ›

In a competitive labor market, your resume must get you on the interview pile in 30 seconds or less. Otherwise, you will end up in the reject pile and never get a chance to sell yourself in person.

How do I make my resume stand out to employers? ›

Simple resume writing tips to help you stand out
  1. Keep your resume short and direct. ...
  2. Create an original resume template. ...
  3. Highlight relevant skills and experiences. ...
  4. Demonstrate results with numbers and metrics. ...
  5. Craft a career snapshot. ...
  6. Optimize your text. ...
  7. Think beyond your job duties. ...
  8. Use the right language to stand out.
Feb 21, 2023

What would you say are your top 3 best soft skills? ›

Here are 15 soft skills examples that are essential traits among employees:
  • Communication.
  • Teamwork.
  • Problem-solving.
  • Time management.
  • Critical thinking.
  • Decision-making.
  • Organizational.
  • Stress management.

What are 3 skills that are necessary for a successful career? ›

Employers look for these as a foundation more important than any niche skill set, and employees with these skills almost always do better than their counterparts.
  • Effective Communication. ...
  • Organization and Management. ...
  • Negotiation. ...
  • Critical Thinking. ...
  • Teamwork and Delegation. ...
  • Research and Analysis. ...
  • Confidence.

What are the 7 essential soft skills? ›

7 essential soft skills in demand
  • Teamwork. With effective teamwork, teams are more productive, deadlines are met, relationships with your team members are stronger and knowledge is shared. ...
  • Problem solving. ...
  • Communication. ...
  • Adaptability. ...
  • Critical thinking. ...
  • Time management. ...
  • Interpersonal.

What are the 10 soft professional skills employers look for? ›

The top 10 soft skills that catch the attention of employers are:
  • Adaptability.
  • Change Management.
  • Creativity.
  • Cross-functional Collaboration.
  • Communication.
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Emotional Intelligence.
  • Interpersonal Skills.
  • Leadership.
Mar 20, 2023

What are the top 10 soft skills employers are looking for from new hires? ›

Top 10 Soft Skills Employers Are Looking For
  • Communication Skills. Let's start with the obvious. ...
  • Problem Solving. Every company benefits by having a team of problem solvers – regardless of the job they work. ...
  • Critical Thinking. ...
  • Time Management. ...
  • Collaboration. ...
  • Grit. ...
  • Adaptability. ...
  • Emotional Intelligence.

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 are the top 3 future skills that the workforce will need in 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 do employers look for in a resume 2023? ›

Employers are looking for a range of skills in potential new hires, including leadership, strong work ethic, communication, problem-solving, interpersonal skills, time management, technical skills, adaptability, critical thinking, and organization.

What top 3 skills do you need to develop to enable your career growth in 2023? ›

7 high-income skills to learn
  • Data analysis. Analytical thinking and innovation is the top skill forecasted in the World Economic Forum's Future of Jobs Report [2]. ...
  • Software development. ...
  • User experience. ...
  • Web development. ...
  • Project management. ...
  • Account management. ...
  • Content creation and management.
Apr 13, 2023

What employers find lacking in the people they interview? ›

Critical thinking/problem solving

A whopping 60 percent of hiring managers believe candidates lack critical thinking and problem solving skills.

What are the most valued soft skills? ›

Here are the most common soft skills employers are looking for:
  1. Communication. Within any soft skill list, you're more than likely going to see communication scattered throughout. ...
  2. Teamwork. ...
  3. Positive Attitude.
  4. Adaptability. ...
  5. Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving. ...
  6. Self-Management. ...
  7. Respectfulness. ...
  8. Leadership.

What are your three strongest qualities? ›

Some examples of strengths you might mention include:
  • Enthusiasm.
  • Trustworthiness.
  • Creativity.
  • Discipline.
  • Patience.
  • Respectfulness.
  • Determination.
  • Dedication.

What are the 3 C's to look for in a job? ›

Summary: Honing the 'Three C's of interviewing (Calm, Confident, Competent) can help you be more successful in your job search.

What are three most important qualities? ›

Foundational Human Qualities. Qualities that form the foundation of all other human qualities include honesty, integrity, courage, self-awareness, and wholeheartedness. These qualities define who we are as human beings.

What do employees value most? ›

Loyalty to Workers

Employees expect to be appreciated by Management if they have good behavior, attitude, and loyalty towards the company. Personal loyalty is the key element of a company's success.

What are professional values in HR? ›

What are professional values? Someone who displays professional values will: portray a professional image through reliability, consistency and honesty. dress and act appropriately. deliver work outcomes to agreed quality standards and timescales.

What is strong work ethic? ›

Employees with strong work ethics take their work seriously and devote their working hours to going above and beyond what's required of them. Their passion for their job means that they'll complete tasks quickly and to the best of their ability. Higher Quality Employees to Advance.


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Edwin Metz

Last Updated: 06/01/2024

Views: 6246

Rating: 4.8 / 5 (78 voted)

Reviews: 85% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Edwin Metz

Birthday: 1997-04-16

Address: 51593 Leanne Light, Kuphalmouth, DE 50012-5183

Phone: +639107620957

Job: Corporate Banking Technician

Hobby: Reading, scrapbook, role-playing games, Fishing, Fishing, Scuba diving, Beekeeping

Introduction: My name is Edwin Metz, I am a fair, energetic, helpful, brave, outstanding, nice, helpful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.