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Human Resources Concentration – Explained

Cite this article as:"Human Resources Concentration – Explained," in The Business Professor, updated December 5, 2019, last accessed July 14, 2020, https://thebusinessprofessor.com/lesson/human-resources-concentration/.


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Human resources concerns all activities concerning employee recruiting, onboarding, training, compensation & benefits, reporting & compliance (labor and employment), employee/union relations, and separation (discharge or retirement).

Common Courses

  • Employee Compensation – This course will help students understand the theoretical basis for compensation and other rewards systems and provide a practical understanding of how compensation and reward systems work.  The economic, psychological and strategic aspects of rewards systems are covered.  A series of exercises provide hands-on experience with major compensation and rewards practices.
  • Strategic Human Resource Management – This course emphasizes the strategic role of the human resource manager in performing functions of recruitment, hiring, training, career development and other contemporary processes within the organizational setting. It serves as an introduction to the areas of compensation, collective bargaining, affirmative action and other regulatory procedures and requirements as they relate to contemporary applications in organizations.
  • Staffing – This course focuses on the effective management of the flow of talent into and through organizations.  It covers human resource planning, recruiting and selection, career transitions and other workforce movements.  An important goal of the class will be to provide opportunities to develop hands-on skills that are relevant to effectively managing talent flow.
  • Law, Ethics, and Politics in Human Relations – This course contends with the question, “Is legal compliance synonymous with ethical behavior in HR?” The interrelationship of legal governance, ethical practice, and political influence in human relations management are a central focus of the course. Students will develop relevant expertise in employment law and HR ethics by actively applying their knowledge to vexing issues facing HR professionals today. Topics related to employment law, workplace health, safety, and security, corporate social responsibility, and ethical guidelines and conduct for HR professionals will be addressed in the course.
  • Training and Development – This interactive, theoretically anchored, and applied course is aimed at understanding the processes and practices of developing human capital.  It covers how organizations train and develop their employees, performance management as an evaluative and developmental tool, and the strategic development of talent framed within the context of talent leadership.
  • Talent Development and Workforce Planning – Organizations are engaged in continual and dynamic changes in today’s business environment, increasing the demand for human resource professionals to leverage strategies to recruit, train, develop, and support a diverse workforce. This course integrates advanced talent management and development skills with strategic workforce planning, asking students to analyze gaps in employee competencies, plan strategic talent development strategies, and forecast workforce needs. Issues such as employee engagement, creating an employment brand, supporting talent through career development, and creating effective succession plans will be emphasized.
  • Human Resource Information Systems – Information systems and data management are essential components of an effective human resource management plan. This course introduces students to the process for researching information systems technology, conducting needs assessments of the organization, selecting an appropriate HR information system (HRIS), and integrating the system effectively. Additionally, a large focus of the course is on the analysis, use, and protection of data in an HRIS. The goal of this course is to provide the necessary skills for students to effectively research, integrate, and leverage various HR information systems for a variety of purposes in and beyond the course.
  • Human Resources in Global Contexts – Organizations increasingly rely on an international workforce and global markets to succeed. As the workforce has become increasingly diverse, cultural competence is a necessary component of any HR strategy. This course situates strategic human resource management in the global stage, focusing on a wide range of issues related to global markets, global security, managing an international workforce, effective cross-cultural management and communication, and diversity in the workplace. The emphasis is placed on how businesses can become more competitive by leveraging an effective HR plan for diversity and international business. This course explores the importance of international business management in the context of international human resource management, including topics on culture, compensation and benefits, international organizations and their structures, international assignment management and the legal and regulatory considerations that global organizations face..
  • Management Information Science – Negotiation/Advocacy in the WorkplaceThis course introduces the processes and practice of negotiating and advocating effectively in settings where continuation and strengthening of the relationship matter. Course content will include the uses, strengths, and weaknesses of distributive and integrative bargaining; the sources and uses of power in negotiation; and gender and cultural influences on negotiation style and practice.
  • Career Management – This course provides students with the knowledge and skills to help others manage their careers while learning how to manage their own careers.  Topics will include self-assessments, motivation theory, professional skill-development, career ladders, labor market/occupational trends, market research, personal branding, job search techniques, resume writing, interviewing skills, negotiating, networking and creating work-life balance.

Human Resources Organizations

  • Academy of Human Resource Development – Human resources professionals interested in furthering their HR knowledge and keeping up to date with the latest industry trends would do well to join the Academy of Human Resource Development. This global organization promotes “the study of human resource development theories, processes, and practices.” They also frequently send out educational resources and invitations to various networking opportunities. Members pay either $130 (students) or $220 (individuals) per year, and receive in exchange resources, publications, conference invites, award opportunities, and faculty mentoring projects.
  • American Payroll Association – The American Payroll Association (APA) has been a leading organization for HR professional since its founding in 1982. Aimed specifically at those who work in payroll, the APA offers its members conferences and seminars on the topic of payroll training, publications, and various educational resources. The association also offers Fundamental Payroll Certification (FPC) and Certified Payroll Certification (CPC).
  • Association for Manufacturing Excellence – The Association for Manufacturing Excellence is a great organization for those with a human resources position at a manufacturing company. Membership to this respected association costs just $150 for an individual, and once enrolled, members can “exchange best practices and network in order to advance their careers and improve the competitiveness and overall value of their organizations.” The association also hosts excellent conferences held throughout the country.
  • Association for Talent Development – As its name suggests, the Association for Talent Development is an organization for those professionals who recruit, train, and develop employees. ATD, as it’s known, offers members a number of conferences and other networking events each year. The association also produces an impressive amount of educational content in the form of webinars, books, and research.
  • College and University Professional Association for Human Resources – Those who work in human resources within higher education are able to join the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR). This international HR association monitors trends within the field of higher education, conducts research, then shares news, updates, and various educational resources with its members.
  • Council for Global Immigration – Affiliated with the Society for Human Resources Management (which is also on our list of the best organizations and associations for human resources professionals), the Council for Global Immigration is for those who work specifically with employment-based immigration. Members of the Council always have access to up-to-date information on immigration policies to ensure their company or institution remains in compliance and able to attract top international talent.
  • HR People + Strategy – HR People + Strategy is associated with Society for Human Resources Management, the largest HR organization in the world and another entry on our list of the best organizations and associations for HR professionals. HR executives with 10 or more years of experience are invited to join HR People + Strategy. The organization focuses on developing talent, HR strategy and planning, and honing leadership skills.
  • Human Capital Institute – Human resources professionals are expected to keep up with the trends relating to recruiting and developing talent. That’s where the Human Capital Institute comes in. Members of this well-respected association have access to current academic research, HR mentors from prominent companies, a community of thoughtful leaders, and conferences held throughout the year. Community membership is free, though there are annual fees for corporate memberships, conferences, and certification programs.
  • International Association of Administrative Professionals – The International Association of Administrative Professionals has been a leading organization in the world of human resources since its founding in 1942. Today, IAAP has branches in 49 states and works to provide HR professionals with the skills, knowledge, and insights necessary to keep up with an industry that changes rapidly and to advance their careers. IAAP members receive access to training programs, various certification programs, conferences and networking events, and advocacy, among other things.
  • International Association for Human Resources Information Management – The International Association for Human Resources Information Management (IHRIM) is one of the top membership organizations in the world for HR professionals working in information management. The association offers educational resources, professional certification, and uniquely, collaboration opportunities. Membership includes job listings, conference invitations, access to a knowledgable community, webinars, and certifications, among other things.
  • International Public Management Association for Human Resources – The International Public Management Association for Human Resources, or IPMA-HR, has been around since 1906. The organization acts as a one-stop shop for the industry by providing news, educational resources, job opportunities, conference invites, training, and more. Though the international association does have a central governing body, there are more than 40 chapters throughout the United States, meaning members receive personalized attention and information most relevant to them.
  • National Association of African-Americans in Human Resources – This national association for HR professionals is specifically for African-Americans working in human resources. NAAAHR, as it’s known throughout the industry, describes itself as an “inspirational and unique career development and networking powerhouse.” Members receive myriad benefits, including networking opportunities, educational and professional development, mentorship and coaching, and more. And because the NAAAHR has regional groups, one-on-one and personalized access is easy to achieve. Membership costs range from $30 for a student to $125 for a professional. Corporations can register 10 members for $1,000 or purchase a “Corporate Elite” membership for $5,000.
  • National Human Resources Association – Though it’s smaller than some of the other HR organizations and associations on our list, the National Human Resources Association (NHRA) provides deeper, more intimate opportunities for HR professionals to learn and connect with others. The non-profit association is run entirely by volunteers. Thus, it emphasizes a “high focus on products and services that will bring bottom-line savings and value to organizations.” These “products and services” include small conferences, professional networking programs, and leadership development services. Membership costs vary by region, but range from about $50 (students) to $300 (corporations).
  • Society for Human Resources Management – With more than 275,000 members across 160 countries, Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) is the largest HR organization in the world. The group is dedicated to human resources management and, according to its website, seeks to “serve the needs of HR professionals and advance the professional practice of human resource management.” SHRM produces publications and industry research; offers awards, scholarships, and certifications; and organizes conferences. Individuals who purchase a membership with SHRM receive customizable HR tools such as interview questions and job descriptions, an HR advisor service, an HR magazine subscription, weekly webcasts, and more.
  • WorldatWork – WorldatWork is an organization for HR professionals that deal with compensation, executive compensation, sales compensation, benefits, and/or work life. The goal of WorldatWork is to help its members advance their careers by taking advantage of networking opportunities and staying up to date on industry changes. To do this, WorldatWork offers various certification programs, including Certified Compensation Professional (CCP), Certified Sales Compensation Professional (CSCP), and Certified Benefits Professional (CBP), among others. Memberships cost $350 annually, and include conference invitations, training from leading experts, and valuable educational resources.


No certification is required to work in the field of human resources; but, below are some common certifications:

Common Career Paths

  • Recruiting and Hiring  – While department heads typically have the final say over who they hire to work in their departments, the task of building a job description, posting it, reviewing resumes, and screening candidates fall on the human resources department. This allows department heads and other managers to keep their focus on their own jobs while human resources seeks potential new hires for openings. Some of the job titles associated with this type of responsibility might include hiring manager or assistant, recruiter, recruitment manager or specialist, talent acquisition manager or specialist, and other variations on this theme.
  • Training and Employment Needs – As with the hiring process, department heads and other managers will play a role in training, but the details of developing a training program and overseeing its implementation fall on the human resources department. A responsibility related both to training and to hiring is the assessment of staffing needs. Changes to a company’s focus, to the technology it uses, to its budget, or to other factors might result in changes to staffing needs. Human resources works with department heads and other managers to assess these changes and determine if new positions are needed or if current positions need to be redefined or combined with other positions. Once those changes have been determined, applicable changes to recruitment and training also are made. Some of the job titles associated with these responsibilities include staff coordinator, human resources analyst, training manager or assistant, or other variations on this theme.
  • Employee Relations – When employees need assistance with issues that arise with their jobs, human resources is expected to help. This can be anything from a benefits-related question to a conflict with a co-worker, superior, or subordinate. For example, an employee filing a workers compensation claim would coordinate with the human resources department, which is responsible for handling such claims. As well, if an employee has a complaint about another employee, it is common practice that such complaints be taken up with the human resources department. The hope is that human resources can be objective and find a solution that works for everybody involved. Relevant job titles in this are of human resources might include employee relations manager, specialist, or assistant, benefits specialist or assistant, or any other variations on this theme.
  • Performance Reviews – Similar to training, most companies will have a specific protocol for performance reviews. While managers and other supervisors will do the actual assessment of employee performance, the procedure that is followed is developed and overseen by the human relations department. A consistent procedure like this overseen by a separate department keeps the reviews professional and data-driven and helps to avoid favoritism based on subjective criteria. There often is a lot of overlap between performance reviews and job training, and many of the job titles related to training also apply here.
  • Record Keeping and Legal Compliance – Every employee has a personnel file including employment history, pay, benefits, tax documents, past performance reviews, and more. Somebody needs to maintain these files and keep them up to date, and the more employees a company has, the bigger this responsibility. Relative to record keeping is legal compliance. Human resources needs to be sure the company is complying with state, federal, and local laws in everything from monitoring the hours of teenage employees, making sure overtime is paid when required, and much more. Job titles associated with these responsibilities might include records manager or assistant, legal adviser, compliance officer, or other titles following a similar theme.
  • General Responsibilities – Only the largest companies will have human resources departments that are large enough for narrow specialization. Small and even mid-sized companies often will have no more than one or a few staff members handling human resources for the entire company, and that means everyone will need to handle all or most aspects of the job. In those cases, more general titles are applicable: human resources manager, human resources assistant, human resources administrator, human resources generalist, and many other similar variations.

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