Planning Your HR Career Path: A Guide to Advancement

University Communications & Marketing | 03/23/2023

Planning Your Career Path


Planning Your HR Career Path: A Guide to Advancement 

Human resources (HR) has long been considered a crucial element of any organization’s daily functions. Professionals in this field are tasked with effectively managing a company’s employees. From compensation and benefits to training, staffing and strategic planning, little would run smoothly without them in most companies.  

If you’ve spent time working in HR, you know just how important these responsibilities are.  

As our organizations and business practices evolve, the duties required of HR management professionals are growing increasingly complex. In planning your own HR career path, it’s essential to consider the full scope of knowledge and competencies that will be required of you in any advanced positions.  

Join us as we uncover the details you’ll need to know to move forward in your HR career. 

How to prepare for HR career advancement 

There are multiple different paths you can take as an HR professional. The great news is, whether you pursue a generalist role in HR management or more of a specialist position, demand is high across the board.  

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), HR manager jobs are expected to grow seven percent by 2031, with more than 16,000 new openings each year. Similarly, employment of HR specialists is projected to grow by eight percent, with more than 81,000 new openings annually.  

If you hope to land one of these in-demand career opportunities, it’ll be helpful to consider the following information related to HR career advancement.  

The evolution of the HR professional 

While their specific duties are numerous, HR management professionals are responsible for recruiting and retaining the best possible employee workforce by ensuring their organization remains competitive and continually attracts high-quality candidates.  

The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) notes that HR professionals have evolved from occupying a behind-the-scenes, administrative role to maintaining active involvement in shaping corporate policy and strategy.  

HR has become a key component of any organization’s senior management team. In fact, a recent report revealed that 89 percent of surveyed CEOs believe HR should have a central role in their business.  

The key to success in advanced HR careers 

The role of an effective HR professional is to support both the business and the people within their organizations. On one end of the spectrum, they act as the “voice of management” to employees. On the other end, they act as an advocate on behalf of employees, tasked with ensuring their viewpoints are represented to management.  

This position in the middle requires an extensive collection of both technical knowledge and soft skills. For example, in an advanced HR career, you’ll likely be involved with a range of compliance-related work that requires proficient knowledge of complicated employment laws and evolving business practices. 

At the same time, you’ll be required to display patience, flexibility, empathy and strong interpersonal communication skills when interacting with people of widely differing levels of experience, education, emotional intelligence and general abilities.  

With this in mind, the SHRM has developed a Body of Applied Skills and Knowledge to define key knowledge areas and competencies that today’s HR professionals are expected to master. The detailed framework includes the following:  

  • Leadership skills 

    • Leadership and navigation 

    • Ethical practice 

    • Diversity, equity and inclusion 

  • Interpersonal skills 

    • Communication 

    • Relationship management 

    • Global mindset 

  • Business skills 

    • Business acumen 

    • Analytical aptitude 

    • Consultation 

In assessing the fundamental requirements of advanced HR careers, the SHRM strongly recommends that aspiring professionals pursue degree programs that offer a balanced curriculum. When researching different schools, look for a program with courses on the behavioral sciences, social sciences and liberal arts. You should also factor in crucial areas of business, such as economics, marketing, business and labor law, accounting and statistics.  

The organization also notes that a master’s in Human Resource Management (MHRM) is becoming a vital component of preparation for the increasingly complex HR marketplace. With a dual focus on both HR competencies and advanced business acumen, an MHRM degree can be key in preparing you for the daily challenges you’ll encounter as an HR professional.  

Advance on your HR career path  

Opportunities for HR career advancement are within reach. By seeking out an MHRM degree program with a holistic, practitioner-focused curriculum, you can learn both the theoretical and practical sides of human resource management while studying real-world issues facing today’s workforce.  

At Saint Francis University, students can learn to meet the changing expectations of HR—and they can do so 100 percent online. Take the next step on your HR career path by exploring our Master of Human Resource Management program page.