13 Top Human Resources Job Skills Employers Are Seeking (2023)

13 Top Human Resources Job Skills Employers Are Seeking (1)

There’s a strange dynamic at play when applying for a position in human resources (HR). You sit on one side of the desk as an applicant, but—in many cases—if you land the job, you might just vault right over that desk into the hiring seat.

Pursuing an HR career is not for the faint of heart. Being a trusted consultant for managers making hiring and firing decisions, keeping watch over employee welfare and handling a company’s most sensitive information isn’t for everyone. You feel like you’re up for the challenge but want to know what exactly will be expected of you. This preparedness is especially important, given how well your potential interviewers may know the job—you’ve got to know your stuff.

We’re here to help you prepare and better understand what employers are seeking. To do this, we spoke to a few HR professionals and used real-time job analysis software to examine more than 140,000 human resources job postings from the past year.1 The data helped us identify the top thirteen skills employers are seeking in HR candidates.

Of course, a list of commonly sought-after skills and competencies for HR professionals is only a starting point for exploring the demands of a role. We’ll help by expanding on each—and what you can do to showcase these skills and abilities as a prospective HR hopeful.

13 In-demand human resources skills

  • Employee relations
  • Onboarding
  • Human resources information software (HRIS)
  • Performance management
  • Teamwork and collaboration
  • Scheduling
  • Payroll processing
  • Customer service
  • Project management
  • Worker's compensation
  • Technological aptitude
  • Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

As you consider your proficiency in each of the HR skills and competencies listed, think about how you could represent them in an interview and on your human resources resume.

Read on to get a more in-depth look!

1. Employee relations

Successful businesses thrive on secure employee–employer relationships and the professionals who support those connections. Being able to identify and resolve employee concerns as they develop creates a more satisfying work environment for employees and employers alike. This is a relatively broad area in the HR field—everything from labor disputes to managing employee benefits packages can be tied to it. Fundamentally, it comes down to your ability to manage conflict and be an advocate for both your employer and its employees.

How to highlight this in a job interview: Ask yourself if there was a time when you were involved in a discrepancy between two individuals in a professional setting. How did you work to resolve their differences in a respectful, empathetic and efficient way? Be specific. Which soft skills were important to use? How did you address concerns and determine an outcome? This is also an opportunity to highlight your knowledge of labor laws and the key regulations surrounding employer–employee disputes.

2. Onboarding

Employee turnover is expensive, and a strong onboarding process can help reduce it. Onboarding refers to the process that allows new hires to become adjusted to the social and performance aspects of their new job quickly and smoothly. Companies are looking to hire HR professionals who can comfortably bring new hires “onboard” with orderly and well-thought-out processes, increasing the chance that they will settle happily and successfully into their new jobs for the long run.

How to highlight this in a job interview: Share occasions where you helped someone feel at home or make a transition. Specific examples of taking initiative to prevent hard feelings and promote open communication between co-workers will speak well of your ability to thrive in an HR position.

3. Human Resources Information Software (HRIS)

Human resources information software are IT tools used for managing HR-related activities and processes electronically. There are a variety of specialized HRIS systems out there, but most have similar core functionality that helps automate some of the more tedious work HR staffers would tend to.

How to highlight this in a job interview: This admittedly can be a tricky requirement to fulfill if you haven’t previously worked in an HR role. If you have any experience working with an HRIS system, it’s clearly a good idea to mention what software you’ve worked with and how you used it.

If you lack experience with this software, then your best bet may be showcasing how you’ve learned to use other software and tying it to your eagerness to quickly learn. Most are fairly intuitive, so this likely won’t be a big sticking point for most employers.

4. Onboarding

Recruiting skilled and sought-after employees is an art form of its own. HR professionals need to understand their company deeply to be able to draw in solid, talented employees who will stick around. Recruiters are often their own specialized role, but talent acquisition is also a valuable skill for generalists as well.

How to highlight this in a job interview: There isn’t always an easy direct example to highlight if you’re new to the field, but anything that highlights your ability to listen well, negotiate, build relationships, keep organized and stay determined can be a nice starting point.

5. Performance management

Performance management is defined as how a company involves its employees in improving effectiveness towards the accomplishment of company goals, according to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM®). The OPM lists performance management tasks that fall under this umbrella as setting expectations for employees, monitoring performance, developing their capacity to perform and rating performance. This skill relies heavily on strong communication and interpersonal abilities and can help with long-term employee tenure trends.

“If you’re pursuing a career in HR, then you should have great listening skills, empathy and emotional intelligence,” says Sophie Lhoutellier, HR manager at Badger Maps®. “I wish more HR applicants would show great listening skills as well as proactivity. People tend to forget that they’re here to listen to the employees and their needs, and to do everything they can to make the company a better place to work at.”

How to highlight this in a job interview: Talk about any experience you have teaching, coaching, tutoring or mentoring someone else. Think of times when really listening to what someone was saying helped you solve a problem. Highlight these experiences on your resume and be prepared to discuss them in a way that shows you’re open, tolerant and versatile.

6. Teamwork and collaboration

“Because HR professionals are focused on finding and creating the best workplace possible, it is extremely important that we find collaborative team members who believe in our mission,” says Vicki Choi, director of HR at Course Hero. You might think that teamwork would be a given in a field like HR, but it’s in demand to the point of making the top-five skills on job postings.

This could reflect a mindset of HR professionals who look to the overall vision of the company instead of just the rules and tasks that make up their daily work. “I wish that more applicants would be oriented toward change and growth instead of just working with the existing HR processes,” Lhoutellier says.

How to highlight this in a job interview: Collaborating in HR often means working with professionals from many different departments, some of which might be outside of your personal wheelhouse. It’s important to know what you don’t know—and be willing to learn.

“Candidates who stand out during the interview process are able to show that they communicate honestly and are willing to be transparent about their successes, failures and progress,” Choi explains. “We have found that candidates who show these skills continue to create value for our HR team and the entire company.”

7. Scheduling

Employers want HR candidates with scheduling skills because many positions require juggling and prioritizing tasks on a team or company calendar. It’s important to be able to create a plan that allows everyone to achieve their goals.

How to highlight this in a job interview: Ask yourself if you have experience planning a multi-step project and how you had to strategically organize and prioritize time to complete each task along the way. This could have been for a wedding, school project or even a vacation overseas.

8. Payroll processing

Understanding how an organization’s payroll processing system works is important for many HR roles, particularly those that focus on employee benefits. For instance, if an employee elected to change their 401k contribution level and finds that change isn’t reflected in their paycheck, an HR specialist may be able to clarify and assist with addressing this issue. Compensation and benefits can get fairly complex, so having a solid understanding of payroll systems is a helpful asset.

How to highlight this in a job interview: When just starting out, this may be a challenge to highlight without prior experience. That said, knowing how payroll and HR interact and where their responsibilities overlap is the key if you’re asked about this subject.

9. Customer service

Human resources professionals need plenty of management and leadership ability to do their jobs. But customer service skills are a huge part of resolving workplace issues. HR professionals spend lots of time in conflict situations. According to Joe Campagna, owner of My Virtual HR Director, simply being a people person isn’t enough to field discipline, mediation and receiving complaints.

How to highlight this in a job interview: “I prioritize candidates who have experience in working with and helping people in some way,” says Lhoutellier. She offers examples such as volunteering, tutoring or coaching. “It shows that they have empathy, which is at the heart of any HR position. You can teach certain tasks of an HR role, but it’s much more difficult to teach soft skills like empathy and communication.”

10. Project management

“Apart from day-to-day administrative duties, HR is almost always in the midst of some large project,” says Campagna. “It can be writing a handbook, installing a performance management system or any other of a myriad of HR-driven projects from HRIS to employee surveys.”

How to highlight this in a job interview: If you’ve managed even a small project before—definitely include that information on your resume. If not, showcasing assertiveness, leadership and a great work ethic can be helpful for this skill. “HR isn’t the picnic department, it’s the productivity department,” Campagna says. “If HR cannot align managers to goals and ask the tough questions, then it is not worth having in a company.”

11. Worker's compensation

HR handles any incidents of work-related injuries or illnesses. Each company should have a plan of action and compensation for employees who are hurt on the job that is in accordance with state and federal laws. HR representatives need to understand the laws regarding worker’s compensation and how to help the employee and company navigate the compensation process.

How to highlight this in an interview: Since an injury incident can be fraught with tension, having strong communication and professionalism is vital in compensation conversations. If you haven’t had experience with worker’s compensation, try to showcase your ability to remain professional and compassionate in conflict.

“The most important soft skills in a professional HR specialist are conflict management and ethics,” says Eva Wislow, HR manager at Careers Booster. “Listening to others, resolving issues in a respectful and appropriate way, all while handling lots of sensitive information are the most common tasks for this role.”

12. Technological aptitude

Though technology-specific skills didn’t appear in the top-ten skills employers are asking for in their job postings, many of our experts shared that being tech-savvy gives you an edge on the market. This could be anything from data analysis to virtual reality adaptations in HR, according to Wislow.

“HR applicants need to have love for numbers and data, projections and analysis,” Wislow says. “Many HR professionals make all kinds of decisions without looking at the numbers—their job revolves around theories and politics.” Wislow adds that many job candidates get lost when data analysis and projection come into the conversation.

How to highlight this in a job interview: Courses or certifications in data analytics would be excellent things to include. Definitely read up on what is happening in the industry, as well as which technologies are enabling the trends. “New employees should be up-to-date on the latest HR trends,” Wislow says. “Big data, gamification, virtual reality in HR—it’s all already here.”

13. Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The Family Medical Leave Act was passed in 1993, and it covers eligible employees for up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave due to various family or medical situations. During your work in HR, knowledge of this law and its various components will be a key part of the job that you need to be aware of.

How to highlight this in a job interview: If you are currently unfamiliar with the FMLA, read up on it. Being able to refer to this law and some of its different uses for employees will only highlight to your interviewers that you know your stuff.

Are your HR job skills up to par?

As you can see, there is a lot more to human resources job skills than being good with people. If you could see yourself getting into some of these aptitudes, you might have what it takes to thrive in human resources. “Go into HR because you like to make order out of chaos,” Campagna says. “Go into HR because you like to impact people’s lives for good by influencing pay, benefit packages and employee-friendly policies.”

If you don’t quite feel you’ve mastered these skills enough to list them on your human resources resume, don’t be intimidated. This is precisely the knowledge and experience you’ll acquire in an HR degree program. Learn more about how you can develop your HR skills by checking out the Rasmussen University Human Resources and Organizational Leadership degree page.

1Burning-Glass.com (analysis of 211,391 human resources job postings, Jul. 01, 2021 - Jun. 30, 2022).

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published in July 2013. It has since been updated to reflect information relevant to 2022.

OPM is a registered trademark of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.
Badger Maps is a registered trademark of Badger Maps, Inc.
Course Hero is a registered trademark of Course Hero, Inc.


13 Top Human Resources Job Skills Employers Are Seeking? ›

Employers responding to NACE's Job Outlook surveys have consistently indicated that critical thinking/problem solving, teamwork/collaboration, professionalism/work ethic, and oral/written communications are all essential competencies.

What skills are employers most looking for according to seek? ›

There are four core skills that hirers should be focusing on:
  • Organisational skills such as time management or research skills.
  • Communication skills such as listening and writing.
  • Interpersonal skills like empathy and flexibility.
  • Analytical skills such as critical thinking and problem solving.

What is one of the top 3 skills employers seek? ›

Top 5 Skills Employers Look For
  • Critical thinking and problem solving.
  • Teamwork and collaboration.
  • Professionalism and strong work ethic.
  • Oral and written communications skills.
  • Leadership.

What skills are needed in human resources? ›

If you want to pursue a career in HR, here are some of the essential skills to include on your resume:
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Feb 20, 2023

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The top 10 traits employers look for in skilled workers are:
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  • Reliability.
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  • Persistence.
  • Cooperation.
  • Communication.

What 3 qualities do employers look for when hiring employees? ›

Desired Candidate Attributes
  • Leadership. Even in entry-level positions, most employers look for evidence of leadership qualities. ...
  • Teamwork. ...
  • Communication and Interpersonal Skills. ...
  • Analytical Skills. ...
  • Dependability and a Strong Work Ethic. ...
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  • Adaptability and Flexibility. ...
  • Good Personality.

What are 3 employable skills? ›

Employability skills include things like:
  • good communication.
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  • leadership.
  • reliability/dependability.
  • following instructions.
  • team work.
  • patience.
  • adaptability.
Mar 10, 2022

What are the four skills most desired by employers? ›

Employers responding to NACE's Job Outlook surveys have consistently indicated that critical thinking/problem solving, teamwork/collaboration, professionalism/work ethic, and oral/written communications are all essential competencies.

What skills are employers looking for in 2023? ›

Top 10 Skills Employers Want to See on a Resume in 2023
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  • Self-motivation. ...
  • Problem-solving. ...
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  • Digital literacy.

What are the three top skills for HR? ›

What are the top HR competencies? The top HR competencies include interpersonal skills, conflict resolution, communication, and administrative skills.

What are the three most important things in HR? ›

The 5 Main Roles in HR
  • Talent Management. The talent management team in the HR department covers a lot of ground. ...
  • Compensation and Benefits. ...
  • Training and Development. ...
  • HR Compliance. ...
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Jun 27, 2022

What are five important human relations skills? ›

Communication, conflict resolution, multitasking, negotiation and organization are all vital to human relations. Leaders who develop these skills are on their way to successfully implementing human relations management practices.

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The human resources (HR) department is a group that manages the employee life cycle. HR responsibilities include human resources planning, recruitment, workplace management and keeping up to date with any policies that may affect the company and its employees.

What are the 8 qualities employers are looking for? ›

The Top 8 Skills Employers Are Looking For
  • Honesty. Honesty is a great trait for both in the workplace – and out. ...
  • Initiative. ...
  • Organisational skills. ...
  • Loyalty. ...
  • Communication skills. ...
  • Team work. ...
  • Problem solving. ...
  • Learning skills.
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The most sought-after, desired employability skill is probably communication. Communication is simply a part of almost every workplace so it makes sense that employers value these skills so highly. Employers are specifically looking for applicants who exhibit strong verbal and nonverbal communication skills.

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What makes an employee stand out? ›

You Show Integrity

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Being self-assured is a key characteristic that employers look for. They seek people to join their team who are confident in their abilities and know what they want. Confident employees are friendly, engaging and have a clear (and honest) idea of what makes them a valuable asset.

What are the core skills for work? ›

These skills are often referred to as employability or generic skills. They include skills such as problem solving, collaboration, self-management, communication and information technology skills.

What are the three core skills required? ›

The 3 Core Competencies
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  • Personal and Social.
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What are the 8 keys to employability skills? ›

8 job skills you should have
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  • Teamwork.
  • Problem solving.
  • Initiative and enterprise.
  • Planning and organising.
  • Self-management.
  • Learning.
  • Technology.
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What are 4 essential skills? ›

Successful individuals make a proactive effort to continuously develop 4 Essential Skills 1-Lead, 2-Manage, 3-Perform in their Job, 4-Communicate Effectively. This 4-pronged skillset applies to your job, no matter what your title or level in the hierarchy.

What are four major skills needed? ›

Benefits of testing the four skills (reading, listening, writing and speaking) When we say that someone 'speaks' a language fluently, we usually mean that they have a high level in all four skills – listening, speaking, reading and writing.

What are the six work skills that make you more employable? ›

Here are 10 of the most important employability skills that employers look for.
  • Problem-solving.
  • Communication skills.
  • Adaptability.
  • Collaboration.
  • Time management.
  • Organization.
  • Technology use.
  • Information use.

What are the 7 essential soft skills? ›

7 essential soft skills in demand
  • Teamwork. With effective teamwork, teams are more productive, deadlines are met, relationships with your team members are stronger and knowledge is shared. ...
  • Problem solving. ...
  • Communication. ...
  • Adaptability. ...
  • Critical thinking. ...
  • Time management. ...
  • Interpersonal.

What is a valuable skill? ›

Valuable job skills are skills that make you more marketable to potential employers in any profession. These skills can transfer across various industries and are an asset regardless of the field you are in.

Which skill is in demand in 2023? ›

The top five skills in demand for 2023 are management, communication, customer service, leadership, and sales. The top five hard skills include software development, SQL, finance, Python, and Java.

What are the 7 HR functions? ›

Recruitment & selection, performance management, learning & development, succession planning, compensation and benefits, Human Resources Information Systems, and HR data and analytics are considered cornerstones of effective HRM.

What makes an HR leader successful? ›

An effective HR leader is forward-thinking and open to new things. They are flexible and can adjust policies and strategies as needed, staying current on the latest technological trends to optimize processes, save time, and remain ahead of the curve.

What are the 4 components of human resources? ›

Four common elements were discovered during the review of the design and development of global HRD. Cooperation, collaboration, communication, and culture are the Four Cs that form the backbone of any global HRD organization.

What are the 3 C's of human relations? ›

In human resources, the three Cs refer to compensation, career path, and culture.

What are the four 4 master keys to good human relations? ›

There are four key behavior traits that contribute to building strong relationships. You need to be trustworthy, care about the other person, be committed to excellence in your performance, and bond through adventure.

What are the 7 components of human relations? ›

As explained in the text, effective human relations skills can be categorized into seven major themes: communication, self-awareness, self-acceptance, motivation, trust, self-disclosure, and conflict resolution.

What is the most important part of HR? ›

One of HR's primary roles is managing payment and benefits for an organization's staff. Proper management of compensation, time off, and insurance is what keeps employee satisfaction high. As a human resource manager, you'll be in charge of distributing, communicating, and improving compensation and benefits packages.

Why should we hire you for HR position? ›

Excellent communication skills, the ability to express your opinions diplomatically, and patience are key skills in this role. You might answer something like this: “As an HR professional, I would demonstrate that I'm a team player and work in line with my business leaders by communicating effectively at all levels.

What are HR 4 main functions? ›

Four basic functions of Human Resource Management are Planning, Directing, Controlling and Organizing.

What are three skills you think employers are looking for and why? ›

There are a few skills that employers look for in job candidates no matter what the open position is, and having these skills can make you more marketable to recruiters. These skills include communication, problem solving and teamwork.

What are the top 3 future skills that the workforce will need in 2025? ›

2. What are the in-demand skills of 2025?
  • Analytical thinking and innovation.
  • Active learning and learning strategies.
  • Complex problem-solving.
  • Critical thinking and analysis.
  • Creativity, originality and initiative.
  • Leadership and social influence.
  • Technology use, monitoring and control.
  • Technology design and programming.

What do employers look for in a resume 2023? ›

Employers are looking for a range of skills in potential new hires, including leadership, strong work ethic, communication, problem-solving, interpersonal skills, time management, technical skills, adaptability, critical thinking, and organization.

What are the three top employability skills? ›

Employability skills include things like:
  • good communication.
  • motivation and initiative.
  • leadership.
  • reliability/dependability.
  • following instructions.
  • team work.
  • patience.
  • adaptability.
Mar 10, 2022

What are the eight skills employers want? ›

8 Skills Employees Look For
  • Initiative. Many hiring managers value personal initiative nearly as much as hard skills. ...
  • Technical Literacy. ...
  • Tech-savvy. ...
  • Data Skills. ...
  • Digital Marketing. ...
  • SEO. ...
  • UX Design. ...
  • Written Communication.

What are the top 3 soft skills desired of job candidates? ›

Top 10 Soft Skills Employers Love (For Any Profession)
  • Time management.
  • Communication.
  • Adaptability.
  • Problem-solving.
  • Teamwork.
  • Creativity.
  • Leadership.
  • Interpersonal skills.
Mar 21, 2023

What are the top 10 common employability skills that employers look for? ›

Here are 10 of the most important employability skills that employers look for.
  • Problem-solving.
  • Communication skills.
  • Adaptability.
  • Collaboration.
  • Time management.
  • Organization.
  • Technology use.
  • Information use.

What makes a great employee? ›

The best employees are constantly looking for new ways to improve themselves and contribute more to the company. They listen, take feedback seriously and are open minded when presented with new ideas. They aren't afraid to ask questions and seek help when needed.

What are the three qualities to hire you? ›

You can consider highlighting these skills in your resume and interviews:
  • Ambition. Ambition is a key trait that employers look for because of what it communicates about the worker. ...
  • Communication. ...
  • Confidence. ...
  • Critical thinking. ...
  • Dependability. ...
  • Determination. ...
  • Eagerness to learn. ...
  • Flexibility.
Feb 2, 2023


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