Human resources (HR) functions are evolving quickly. 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.

A great HR assistant needs excellent people and communication skills. He or she should be a people person who enjoys working with people. 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.

The HR 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.

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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.

Key skills needed for a good HR assistant include:

  • Communication: The need to be able to get a point across clearly and succinctly will be vital, whether dealing with employees or senior management, so strong communication skills are a must.
     
  • Empathy: There will be times when team members reach out to HR assistants when they have problems. Empathy and understanding are must-haves for those handling employee issues.
     
  • 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 in.

In addition, the HR assistant will provide assistance to 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.

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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 a number of 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.

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They must recognise who works there and what skills they have. Up-to-date information about companies, employees and benefits is always important 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.

HR departments are important parts 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.

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What 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.

Ready for your next career step? Check out these HR vacancies or submit your CV now.

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