Human Resources Manager

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Are you a people person who enjoys collaborating with others? Would you like the opportunity to oversee a workforce and implement change where it's needed most? If so, a career as a human resources manager may be the path for you.

Are you interested in working as a human resources manager? Explore the jobs in HR, recruitment and executive search available right now.

What does a human resources manager do?

Human resources managers or officers implement, develop and advise on policies and plans which ensure the effective use of employees in a company or organisation. They oversee the skills and experience of the staff body and ensure there are opportunities for training and development to enhance performance. They often have a hand in recruitment and retention, pay and reward schemes, conditions of employment and equality and diversity. Here are some examples of what working within the role day to day may look like: 

  • Manage an organisation’s HR team 
  • Liaise with managers to understand their goals and help them get the most out of their workforce
  • Collaborate with different departments to assist line managers in implementing your policies
  • Recruit and train staff
  • Undertake salary reviews
  • Design and implement workplace policies such as disciplinary measures, working conditions and equal opportunities
  • Stay up to date on employment law and advise staff accordingly 
  • Manage a budget and undertake regular salary reviews

Human resources manager career path


Individuals looking to start their career in this sector may start by obtaining an entry level role in a general HR position. This offers a great breadth of work and often provides you with experience in all areas of HR. Organisations also offer graduate schemes lasting between 18 months and 3 years. These give an opportunity to rotate through placements in different departments. This could include learning and development, recruitment, reward management or employee relations and a short period of time working in each helps you decide which areas of HR interest you most. 

Career progression

In order to progress in your career, it can be helpful to work towards HR qualifications accredited by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), which will help you hone your knowledge and training, particularly if there is an area you would like to specialise in. As your career progresses and you gain experience, you could complete an Advanced Diploma and apply for chartered membership of the CIPD. 

Future career

Throughout your career, specialisms can include diversity and inclusion, employment law, organisation development, employee relations or recruitment and talent planning. Specialist roles are most often found in the headquarters of large organisations so you may be required to change company or location to progress. At the peak of their careers, human resources managers may move up into HR director roles, sometimes at board level. There is also an opportunity to become self-employed and work as a HR consultant on a freelance basis. 

Human resources manager salaries

  • At entry level, working as a HR administrator you can expect to earn between £18,000 and £23,000 per year.
  • With several years experience the salaries for human resources officers and advisors can rise to around £24,000 to £35,000 per year.
  • HR managers can earn in the region of £35,000 to £55,000 per year and at director level this may rise to £55,000, and sometimes in excess of £80,000 per year.

Qualifications and training 

To work as a human resources manager you need a combination of skills and experience. Here is the education and experience that you need to kick start your career in the sector:


It is not essential to have a degree, but it can be useful to have studied subjects relevant to the sector such as business and management, human resources management, psychology or business with languages. Often, it’s a good idea to check whether the course you’re studying is accredited by the CIPD. If you are wanting to apply for a graduate scheme, employers tend to look for one of these qualifications. 

However, if a degree or further education is not your first choice, then relevant apprenticeships are available. Many companies offer apprenticeships where you learn about the role by working in it with industry experts. Some apprenticeships include a university element where you work towards a degree while working for the firm. To become a human resources manager you could start out on a level 3 apprenticeship in HR Support as an entry route into the sector. You can explore the apprenticeships available through the CIPD’s Apprenticeship Routes pathway. 

There is also the possibility of getting into this area directly through work. Some people might start in an administrative role in a HR department and then progress through to promotion. 

Work experience

Previous experience is important when looking to become a human resources manager, and a great way to gain this is by securing a summer placement or internship. Your course or degree may already include an industrial placement year, but it’s important to seek opportunities on top of this if you wish to stand out. By working alongside professionals in an organisation or business, you’ll gain an understanding of the industry and you can learn the areas that interest you most. Many top firms offer internships during the summer aimed at students just starting out. Take a look at our current internships in HR, recruitment and executive search

Placements and internships also provide an opportunity to network with existing employees and gain an idea of what kind of company you’d like to be a part of. Here is our Bright advice for networking successfully. 

Human resources manager skills

Education is an important building block on the road to securing your career in HR, but it is also important to consider the skill set required for the job. Here are some of the hard and soft skills that you need to flourish in your career: 

Hard skills

  • IT and numeracy skills. Much of the day to day organisational tasks of a human resources manager are completed through computer technology, for example when managing computerised payroll and benefits systems. 
  • Employment law knowledge. It’s vital as a human resources manager that you have up to date knowledge about employment law and how that affects the organisation you’re working within. 

Soft skills

  • Business and management skills. Leadership qualities are essential in this role as you will be taking on the responsibility of an entire workforce. This requires the ability to use your initiative and stay organised as you oversee the running of the business, and engage with company goals to provide the best outcomes.  
  • Interpersonal skills. A human resources manager is required to build relationships with people from all departments in a business, and to motivate and manage staff effectively. Managers and staff must feel they can approach you regarding confidential and sometimes sensitive issues, so it’s important you’re able to handle one on one situations. 
  • Collaboration. As a human resources manager you must be able to work alongside many different departments and integrate your ideas into the established framework of a business. You must be able to encourage teamwork and often play a mediating role as you unite a workforce. 
  • Communication. It is important you’re able to communicate the data you have compiled in a professional manner in order to successfully negotiate how new policies can be implemented. 

Pros and cons of being a human resources manager

A career in HR can be incredibly rewarding. However, understanding the less positive aspects of being in HR can help you decide if it’s the right career path for you. Here are some pros and cons of working as a HR manager: 


  • If you enjoy working with people, then HR management can be a really rewarding job. You are the person who your colleagues come to for help within an organisation and often you will be responsible for improving the wellbeing of a workforce as well as improving the working culture through diversity and inclusion initiatives and reward schemes. 
  • There is often a good work life balance for HR managers as their working hours are usually very regulated and follow a 9-5 pattern. 
  • Within this sector, there is wide scope for moving sideways if you think you might prefer to specialise in another area of HR or recruitment. The skills and experience you gain from working as a human resources manager can be transferred elsewhere, so you’re likely to find a fit that’s perfect for you. 


  • Working as a human resources manager can be very pressurised as you are responsible for the concerns and enthusiasm of the workforce. Occasionally dealing with personal issues and trying to implement effective change can sometimes lead to challenging dialogues and confrontations that you need to deal with.  
  • The working life of a human resources manager tends to be office based, and less engaging admin tasks are a required part of the job. 
  • You are often required to adhere to a formal dress code when working within a business, and how you present yourself is an important element of the work. 

Work-life balance

The typical hours for a human resources manager are between 37 to 39 a week, and you would usually work between the regular office hours of 8-6pm. This means it is an ideal career for those wishing to leave plenty of time for their non-working life. Depending on the type of organisation you’re based in, there is opportunity for travel around the UK or even internationally to visit other sites such as factories, government departments or retail outlets. 

Typical employers hiring human resources managers

As there is a wide variety of careers available in this sector, there are many different types of employers looking to take you on. Below is an idea of the types of companies who offer graduate schemes in their HR departments, or entry level roles in the sector: 

Related jobs to human resources manager

  • Training and development manager
  • Operations analyst
  • Supply chain manager

More information

Are you interested in becoming a human resources manager and would like to find out more about pathways into this sector? Why not read about the first hand experiences of Luke, a student on the Human Resources Graduate Scheme with Gist.

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