What does it take to be a successful HR Assistant, HR assistant career path

In the swiftly transforming landscape of human resources (HR), the role is no longer confined to compliance and transactions. Instead, it’s taking on an agile and strategic mantle that could define the future of successful organisations.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the HR department became the unsung heroes in many organisations, steering them into a fully virtual environment and assisting with new policies such as work-from-home and hybrid work arrangements for non-essential workers. It was a leap from an administrative focus to a highly strategic one.

Skill sets required to be successful in this field are broad, and as a result, employees must possess different skills to perform well in human resources.

What does it take to be a great HR assistant in this new age?

An HR assistant must be well-organised and be able to coordinate multiple tasks and projects at the same time. The job also involves managing employee information and handling employee relations, so trust and discretion will be highly crucial.

However, the job scope now goes beyond organisation and multitasking. A great HR assistant needs excellent people and communication skills as the job scope shifts from task-oriented to service-oriented.

HR personnel could consider investing in skills that prioritise human-centred approaches, like empathic listening, fostering trust, and building processes that create a positive experience for employees.

The job often involves working out how to manage people. This could include looking after employees, managers, customers, suppliers and clients. The role can also include training. Careers can be internationally focused, even at a junior level.

Related: How you can be highly effective in a role from day 1

Qualities that make a good HR assistant

HR departments are growing, and more companies need skilled, talented individuals to help them succeed. There is always a need for HR staff, even if an individual has only been working in one specific discipline. HR skills are universal and are easily transferred from company to company and from sector to sector.

When aspiring to become an HR assistant, you’ll want to cultivate a diverse range of HR assistant skills, encompassing recruitment, onboarding, and employee relations, as these competencies are essential to excel in the role.

Key skills needed for a good HR assistant include:

  • Effective Communication and Active Listening: A successful HR assistant must possess exceptional communication skills. But it's not just about speaking; it's about genuinely listening and understanding. These interactive qualities build trust, honesty, and respect, which are the cornerstones of effective human resource management.

  • Emotional Intelligence and Empathy: Being a great HR assistant is not just about managing tasks but understanding people. Emotional intelligence, particularly empathy, sets apart successful HR leaders.

    This skill helps you better understand the people you work with, providing the guidance and support they need. Emotional intelligence can indeed be the distinguishing factor that sets one apart as a leader in this space.

  • Trustworthiness: Every HR assistant will need to handle sensitive information at times, and will need to be trusted. This is far more than a basic administrative assistant role.

  • Loyalty: Establishing a long-term commitment to the business will always help to make HR teams stronger, and able to support all aspects of the company’s functions.

  • Negotiation skills: HR assistants will be regularly involved in various negotiations, including salary discussions and purchasing meetings. Skilled negotiators usually succeed in such a role. Having a basic knowledge of employment law can be a major benefit as well.

  • Self-motivation: The best HR assistants are able to work strongly within a team framework and, when necessary, on their own.

  • Ability to multi-task: HR departments are extremely busy at times, especially those in large organisations. Multi-tasking is something all HR assistants have to become adept at.

  • International Focus and Flexibility: The role of an HR assistant can be globally oriented, even at junior levels. Whether it's managing people across various roles or coordinating multiple tasks, an HR assistant must be well-organised, discreet, and capable of handling the international scope and complexities of the role.

In addition, the HR assistant will assist senior members of the team in a range of areas, including recruitment, training, performance management, employee orientation, payroll administration, employee welfare and health and safety.

Related: 8 lessons you can learn from business leaders

What are the characteristics of a good HR Assistant?

Relevant characteristics include sympathy, fast decision-making, ethics, and patience. These attributes help HR professionals evaluate and recruit people based on their skills and abilities. An effective HR assistant motivates, organises, and assists organisations in achieving their objectives in several different areas.

Human resources staff need to coordinate with other departments to meet the overall goals of the company. Each department has different needs and challenges, and HR must know how to help them reach their targets.

HR professionals must be knowledgeable about the company’s mission, vision, and strategy. They should understand what each department does and why it exists. HR assistants must understand the laws and regulations of the company.

Related: How to sell your skills on your CV and cover letter 

They must recognise who works there and what skills they have. Up-to-date information about companies, employees and benefits is crucial to know, as is the need to keep up with the latest trends in the relevant sector.

Successful HR assistants will be passionate about sharing knowledge and enthusiastic about working with others. Coaching and training will be critical elements of any development within the organisation. There will be a need to interact with personnel in an advisory capacity at times, so counselling skills will always be seen as an advantage.

The HR department is an important part of any organisation. They help companies manage their employees and run their operations efficiently. There are many different types of HR professionals, with most of them focusing on employee welfare, training, benefits and salaries.

What does an HR Assistant do?

Those who work in a human resources assistant position need to be able to analyse data, create reports, understand an employee file and communicate effectively with other departments. It’s important for those who work in human resources to be highly organised, methodical, analytical and adept at employee engagement.

Human resources assistants are usually responsible for keeping track of employees’ employment records. Screening applicants and clarifying test results will also often be regular duties. 

The human resources department is responsible for keeping employee information safe and secure, so organisational skills are vital. They need to work with IT staff to ensure that the system is up to date and that employees are aware of any threats or risks.

An HR assistant is generally responsible for internal communication within an organisation. They schedule new hires into the company, review employee performance and manage the flow of information throughout the company.

Other tasks on the job description could include liaising with vendors and suppliers, maintaining accurate employee records, processing payrolls, learning about employment law and helping with new employee orientation for each successful candidate for new roles.

Related: How to be highly effective in a role from day 1

hat does an HR Assistant’s career path entail?

The human resources sector often involves a career path that is somewhat fluid and interchangeable. Switching from one company to another, and from one industry to another, is a relatively simple process. Many newcomers to HR will start at a junior level and work their way up the ladder.

Larger organisations usually offer the opportunity to train for qualifications aimed at career advancement and an improved average salary. Those in senior HR management will often have begun their careers at the most junior level, collecting the relevant experience and soft skills as they go, and evolving into specialist roles.

Searching for HR assistant jobs can be a competitive endeavour, but with a well-crafted HR assistant resume showcasing your relevant experience and skills, you can increase your chances of landing your desired position. Have a look at these resume tips and resources.

Ready to apply for a new role? Check out our current opportunitiessubmit your CV or get in touch with a specialist Page Personnel recruitment consultant today.

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