What You Need to Know If You Want to Build a Career in Human Resources

What You Need to Know If You Want to Build a Career in Human Resources

The huge misconception about HR (Human Resource) is that it’s a hire and fire role. People want to build a career in HR so that they can be in control and bully other colleagues at work. Another cliché I hear from people is “I’m a people person” or “I have passion!” What does that even mean to you?

What’s HR all about?

HR personnel help the business (an organization) achieve its objectives through the people – who are the biggest asset of a business. Managing machines is not as difficult as managing people who can talk and revolt if you’re not doing things right. So ensure you’re moving into HR for the right reasons if you want to get the satisfaction you desire.

Some of the functions HR Professionals perform includes Recruitment/Selection and Onboarding, Learning and Development, Performance Management, Compensation and Benefit, Documentation, Exit Management, Organizational Development, and Change Management.

You can decide to be a Generalist or a Specialist in any of the HR Functions mentioned. A lot of people are generalists, but being a specialist is also good. Specialists are highly sought after and the pay is juicier because they are scarcer than Generalists.

Education/Certification Requirement

A social science degree is preferred but it’s not compulsory. If you’re about to choose a degree, I would advise you do a social science course e.g. Industrial Relations and Personnel Management. This is because it’s easier for people with the required educational background than people who do not have it. If you have gotten a degree (doesn’t matter the course) and you have made up your mind to build a career in HR, I would advise you register with CIPM and start writing the exams. As someone who didn’t have a background in HR (I studied Chemical Engineering), those exams really taught me about the basics of practicing HR in Nigeria.

Apart from learning, you also get to network with other HR personnel in your study centre. I would advise you to join a nearby chapter, go for meetings and be involved. Networking is one of the fastest ways to get a job in HR.

Other certifications you can take as time goes on: aPHRi, PHRi, SPHRi, GPHRi, SHRM or a Masters in HR/Industrial Relations.

Skills/Competencies Required

I’ve highlighted a few skills an H.R Professional should have or build over time to be successful:


The ability to communicate effectively and be void of ambiguity. Oral and written communication is key! The ability to listen well is also key!


The ability to be self-organized and deploy it towards helping the business is important. HR Generalist does a lot of things. If you’re not organized, you will drop the ball.


This is where you have to put the ‘human’ in HR. This is very critical so you don’t become a tyrant.

Customer Service

This is the ability to create a good experience for your customers (the staff members you manage). They are your clients and you’re not a ‘god’.

Decision Making

You will need to make a lot of tough decisions. For instance, making recruitment decisions would involve a lot of thought process, so you have to develop that over time.

Project Management

HR Practitioners usually take up multiple projects in the organization which they have to see to completion.

I can tell you for free that HR is a rewarding career that allows you make an impact on the lives of people and also the business. The best part is seeing your efforts and initiatives drive business growth and reduce turnover, thereby saving cost and seeing the business succeed. The ability to balance your policies to suit management and staff will help you succeed. It is financially rewarding and it’s a good career path in which you can grow.

I wish you the best in your HR journey.

Feel free to send me feedback and follow on Twitter and Instagram @careerlifeng

Yewande Jinadu

Yewande Jinadu is a Strategic Human Resource Professional with significant experience in solving problems and helping organization deliver value through its people. Over the past 5years, she has used her expertise in Talent Acquisition, Employer Branding, Technical Recruitment, Performance Management and Employee Engagement to shape the culture of various organization. A superb communicator and an advocate of always treating people well. Currently the Founder of CareerLife Nigeria (careerlife.com.ng), a Public Speaker, Trainer and feature writer for top blogs in NIgeria Through CareerLife Nigeria's initiative, several graduates have become employable and gotten job several Job Offers. Recently she was recognized as one of the top 150 global HR Professionals and Top 50 Career Influencers by The Workbooth Yewande is changing the narrative for Young Nigerian Graduates You can reach out to her by sending a mail to: info@careerlife.com.ng and follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @careerlifeng

6 thoughts on “What You Need to Know If You Want to Build a Career in Human Resources

  1. Thank you so much for this piece. It was really an eye opener for me because I want to build a career in HR. God bless you and increase your wisdom.

    1. Well, it depends if you put it on your CV and the importance the company attaches to your age.

      It’s not to early or late to make a career switch so far you have the right strategies and you have planned yourself well.

  2. I admire every bit of your article and it’s articulated points, really I would love and appreciate to get a coaching(CV review and career advice) from on you within your free time.


  3. Good morning Ma, I’m Ruth Ojo, I’m an aspiring HR professional currently taking my CIPM And CHRMP Courses and Certification respectively, Currently I’m working in a commercial bank in retail segment, but i would like to go fully into HR now.I’ll need your help as an experienced professional in the field for guidelines and mentorship.

    Thanks and regards.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *