Important Human Resources Skills for Workplace Success

HR Skills for Resumes, Cover Letters, and Interviews

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Within a large company, executives put a great deal of effort into talent acquisition and management. These are fancy words for hiring and keeping the right people.

Human resource (HR) personnel take responsibility for the workforce and need to operate with the right kind of skills. The focus of human resources is internal: how well the workforce feels empowered and how well executive-level leadership receives a return on investment for the quality of the entire workforce.

What Skills Do You Need to Work in Human Resources?

Generally, human resources refers to the management of all things related to employment, from hiring to employee compensation to labor law to dealing with retirement. Jobs in human resources include HR specialists, HR managers, training managers, recruiters, generalists, and more.

Many HR workers attend and even run various meetings with employers, employees, and job candidates. They, therefore, need to keep their schedules organized, so that they can keep track of all these meetings.

Types of Human Resources Skills

 © The Balance, 2018


Communication is a critical soft skill for people working in human resources. You will have to communicate effectively with people across an organization, from entry-level employees to the CEO. You have to be able to explain verbally and in writing any and all information related to company policy. Often, people in human resources have to conduct interviews, give presentations, and lead conflict resolution. All of these take strong communication skills.

Being a good communicator also means being a good listener. In human resources, you need to listen carefully to the questions and concerns of everyone in the organization.

  • Coaching
  • Collaboration
  • Verbal Communication
  • Nonverbal Communication
  • Written Communication
  • Integrity
  • Interpersonal
  • Active Listening
  • Motivation

Conflict Management

Employees in human resources help solve a variety of work conflicts, whether they are between two colleagues or an employee and his or her employer. HR staff needs skills in negotiation and mediation. They need to patiently listen to both sides and resolve the issue in a respectful and appropriate way.

  • Affirmative Action
  • Empathy
  • Discretion
  • Negotiation
  • Team building
  • Teamwork
  • Facilitating Group Discussions
  • Handling Constructive Criticism

Decision Making

HR employees make lots of decisions for a company, ranging from who to hire to how to resolve a dispute between employees. Therefore, it is important that they are critical thinkers that can weigh the pros and cons of an event and then make a decision.

  • Applicant Screening
  • Applicant Tracking Systems
  • Background Checks
  • Recruiting
  • Interviewing
  • Devising Employee Selection Criteria


HR employees handle lots of personal, sensitive information about a company and its employees. You need to be discrete, only sharing this information with people when it is appropriate. You also need to be able to make sure both employers and employees are compliant. When you discover that either party is in violation of ethical standards, it will be your responsibility to identify the violation and do your part to hold others accountable.

  • Analyzing Legal Issues in Human Resources
  • Applying Ethical Standards to Workforce Management 
  • Applying Social Science Theories to Workplace Issues
  • Applying Strategies for Enhancing Employee Relations
  • Approaches to Cultivating Workplace Diversity
  • Employee Handbooks
  • Employee Relations
  • Employee Rights
  • Employee Sourcing
  • Employment Law
  • Employer Rights
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Compliance
  • Fair Labor Standards
  • Federal Laws
  • Policies and Procedures
  • Strategies for Addressing Performance Problems
  • Statutory Compliance


Most human resources employees have to keep track of numerous records and files related to each employee. They handle lots of paperwork related to hiring, firing, and various employee benefits. Therefore, HR employees must be able to keep this information organized, safe, and accessible.

  • Administration
  • Benefits
  • Confidentiality
  • Multitasking
  • Talent Management Systems
  • HR Software
  • Assessing the Needs of Employees for Training
  • Attention to Detail

More Human Resources Skills

  • Balancing Concern for Individual Workers and Organizational Interests
  • Change Management
  • Company Policies
  • Comparable Worth
  • Compensation
  • Computer
  • Customer Service
  • Data Analysis
  • Developing Performance Appraisal Forms and Processes
  • Developing Strategies for Recruiting Workers
  • Developing Training Models
  • Devising Research Models to Study HR Issues
  • Employee Benefits
  • Employee Development
  • Employee Engagement
  • Evaluations
  • Evaluating Information Systems for Human Resources
  • Evaluating Models for Compensating Employees
  • Human Resource Planning
  • Health Regulations
  • Job Descriptions
  • Job Postings
  • Labor Laws
  • Labor Relations
  • Labor Specialization
  • Leadership
  • Management
  • Marketing Organizations to Prospective Employees
  • Measuring HR Outcomes
  • Microsoft Office
  • Networking
  • New Hire Paperwork
  • Onboarding
  • Orientation
  • Payroll
  • Performance Management
  • Placement Management
  • Pre-employment Screening
  • Presentation
  • Quantitative Analysis of Research data
  • Qualitative Analysis of Research data
  • Reference Checking
  • Reporting
  • Statistics
  • Technical Recruiting

How to Make Your HR Skills Stand Out

Add Relevant Skills to Your Resume: In the description of your work history, you might want to use some of these keywords. The closer a match your credentials are to what the employer is looking for, the better your chances of getting hired.

Highlight Skills in Your Cover Letter: In the body of your letter, you can mention one or two of these skills, and give a specific example of a time when you demonstrated each skill at work.

Use Skill Words in Your Job Interview: Make sure you have at least one example for a time you demonstrated a few of the top skills listed above.