Over the past few years I have been repeatedly asked about what it takes to have a career in Human Resources…. of course, I am always excited to tell the world what a great and awesome career it is and how, no matter what, if I had to live my life over again, I would still choose the same profession. I absolutely love HR. What other career offers you the opportunity to see the organization at a holistic level, understand how its workforce must be engineered to achieve its vision, build intellectual capital to achieve its mission and craft behavior that supports and cements the values that an organization stands for?

It is an exciting opportunity to influence, shape and create great organizations through constant appraisal of your own skills and knowledge.

So, when asked this question, I have to reflect on the following core competencies, which I believe to be fundamental to your success if you were to choose a career in Human Resources.


To be truly regarded as a credible partner, you must be competent. Competence means many things to many people. In my world, it means understanding three components: –

  • What must you know?
  • What must you do?
  • How must you behave?

Credibility comes from confidence and confidence comes from knowledge. You must learn everything you can about your profession, be hungry to constantly update your skills and strive to understand your profession at every level. This is your roadmap, to investing in yourself so that you create longevity in your own profession and future. Understand what drives your business, then you are better able to contribute and add to its success.

High level of emotional intelligence

Human resources is a profession that deals with people. At any given point in time, you are constantly interacting, engaging and working with, or on people matters. You must be able to separate the emotion from fact and make judgments based on real and tangible issues. It’s very easy as a human being to take things personally. In HR, you cannot. People are complex, there are no two people who are exactly the same and no two situations, which are exactly the same. You must be mature enough to understand the issues and focus on that. It takes a great deal of emotional intelligence to separate the person from the issue. Having a good head on your shoulders helps you to make calculated decisions that bring neutrality and consistency.

Resilient change activist

The world is constantly changing and this change manifests in everyday life through the people we engage with and the work we do. As a result organizations have to constantly embark on transformation journeys, reinvent themselves, reposition their strategies and find new grounds for staying in business. This in turn means changing the way they do business and who they do business with. It can very often mean the redeployment of people, sometimes even displacing people, reskilling people and refocusing organizational priorities. As an HR professional, you must be resilient to change, effect the change in a way that supports a culture of inclusion and cohesion. Change activism is focused at fostering enthusiasm through understanding the change and positively mobilizing the change to effect transformation, to constantly master your own fears and limitations so that you can set the tone, the pace and the example as a change activist. There is no standing still…you will get run over!

Personal credibility

You are constantly watched as an HR professional. Everything you do, everything you don’t do, gets noticed! You cannot hope to fly under the radar having a profession in HR. In HR you are out there. You are seen as the oracle, with all the answers and you are able to solve any problem. People believe everything you say and your favour over them is sometimes an endorsement on their ability and value. People rely on your word and they take it at face value. If you do not act with the integrity, truth and genuiness expected of an HR professional, you soon loose your ability to influence and impact people and soon, your credibility.


This is a key component of an HR professional’s make up. You must be able to stand up for what you believe in and have the courage to challenge what goes against the grain of your values. In HR, there are often decisions made that do not always benefit all parties, that’s the way of life. For someone to win, someone else has to lose, in some way or another. What’s important though is that your decisions are consistent and fair. As an HR professional, you have a responsibility to ensure that fairness prevails and where you are placed in a vulnerable situation, default to your values, that’s your beacon. Being consistent may not win you an award for the most likeable person, but it will certainly earn you respect.

Thats it for now ….until our next connect session.

Keep Learning!