Specialists in Human Resources - What They Do

Human resources professionals develop, implement and evaluate human resources and labour relations policies, programs and procedures and advise employers and employees on human resources matters. They are employed throughout the private and public sectors, or they may be self-employed.

Job duties

This group performs some or all of the following duties:

  • Plan, develop, implement and evaluate human resources and labour relations strategies including policies, programs and procedures to address an organization's human resource requirements
  • Advise employers and employees on the interpretation of human resources policies, compensation and benefit programs and collective agreements
  • Negotiate collective agreements on behalf of employers or workers, mediate labour disputes and grievances and provide advice on employee and labour relations
  • Research and prepare occupational classifications, job descriptions, salary scales and competency appraisal measures and systems
  • Plan and administer staffing, total compensation, training and career development, employee assistance, employment equity and affirmative action programs
  • Manage programs and maintain human resources information and related records systems
  • Hire and oversee training of staff
  • Co-ordinate employee performance appraisal programs
  • Research employee benefit and health and safety practices and recommend changes or modifications to existing policies.

Job titles

  • classification officer - human resources
  • mediator
  • business agent, labour organization
  • union representative
  • classification specialist
  • conciliator
  • consultant, human resources
  • employee relations officer
  • employment equity officer
  • human resources research officer
  • labour relations officer
  • job analyst
  • wage analyst
  • compensation research analyst
Employment Requirements

This is what you typically need for the job:

  • A university degree or college diploma in human resources management or a related field, such as business administration, industrial relations, commerce or psychology or Completion of a professional development program in human resources administration is required.
  • Some employers may require human resources professionals to hold a Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) designation.

Essential Skills


  • Read memos from managers of operational units in order to assess the concerns of managers and to develop strategies which will enable them to meet their business objectives. (2)
  • Read job resumes, letters of application, job descriptions and competency profiles in order to understand the scope of expertise available to the organization, to understand organizational imperatives and to make effective recommendations in the areas of recruitment, selection and career development. (2)
  • Read performance evaluations in order to guide the organization in developing practices that improve performance in the workplace. (3)
  • Read analyses of human resources information policies and information security measures in order to contribute to the further development and improvement of these policies and measures. (3)
  • Read training needs assessments and curricula in order to ensure that training activities support the overall needs and aims of the organization and its people. (3)
  • Read Requests for Proposals (RFPs) concerning work to be contracted in order to ensure that proposals being considered meet the cultural norms and organizational priorities of their organizations. (3)
  • Read reports about compensation and benefits in order to align total compensation (including remuneration, benefits and pension) with their organization's internal and external environments. They may review pension proposals submitted by third parties and evaluate the information received. (4)
  • Read Workers Compensation Board (WCB) regulations in order to ensure that their organizations comply with applicable WCB legislation and develop effective claims management and cost control strategies. (4)
  • Read employee contracts and collective agreements of various bargaining units in order to provide sound advice to clients on employee and labour relations. (4)
  • Read legislation, arbitration decisions, labour board reports and case law in order to develop an optimal strategy for labour-management co-operation. (5)

Document use

  • Complete or direct the completion of staffing or job termination forms and pension benefit forms. (1)
  • Create budget forecasts. (1)
  • Read and interpret pay schedules and salary scales in tabular format. (2)
  • Read and interpret data obtained from employee or customer surveys. (3)
  • Interpret organization charts, flowcharts of staffing processes and employment contracts. (3)


  • Develop measurement systems for team performance, presenting information on how the systems may be evaluated and implemented. (3)
  • Write policy papers to provide advice, guidance and recommendations on a wide variety of human resource matters such as worker health and security. (4)
  • Craft analyses of draft legislation, such as workers' compensation legislation, to identify strengths and limitations and to provide insight on how the legislation may be applied. (4)
  • Write and evaluate training needs assessments, comparing options and recommending the most appropriate ways to meet identified needs. (4)
  • Formulate, synthesize and summarize bargaining strategies. (4)
  • Devise or evaluate assessment tools for determining career development options. (4)
  • Evaluate human resource information management needs, considering the present and future organizational parameters. (4)
  • Script articles for newsletters or employee bulletins. (4)


Scheduling, Budgeting & Accounting Math

  • Prepare project costing with critical path information relating to money, people and time lines. (2)
  • Interpret financial statements in order to understand the financial health of the organization and the implications for the development of human resource strategies and plans. (3)
  • Perform cost-benefit analyses of organizational and employee needs and preferences relative to benefit plans and pension plans, including taxation considerations and funding requirements. (3)
  • Calculate the costs of compensation and benefit options to determine affordability. (3)
  • Calculate return on investment (ROI) for a wide range of programs, such as training programs, in order to present the organization with significant input to long range human resource planning. (4)

Data Analysis Math

  • Analyze data from employment equity reports to compare how specific equity groups are progressing in relation to others as a basis for developing plans to improve the organizations record in regard to employment equity. (4)
  • Use comparative data to benchmark performance measurements. (4)

Numerical Estimation

  • Estimate training costs for courses of various types and lengths in order to integrate this information into long-range training plans. (3)
  • Estimate the costs of early retirement incentives to assist the organization in succession planning. (3)

Oral communication

  • Discuss job requirements with managers in order to offer expert advice in regard to occupational analysis, organizational development and succession planning. (2)
  • Interview candidates for senior positions to assess their qualifications and to evaluate how they may contribute to meeting strategic business goals. (3)
  • Communicate with labour and management representatives to provide input to contract negotiations and contract language and to introduce strategies for effective labour-management cooperation. (3)
  • Counsel employees concerning training options and career development opportunities that will serve individual needs while promoting the goals of the organization. (3)
  • Communicate with members of the medical community to gain insight into evolving ways to modify work environments to meet the needs of disabled employees. They use this information to analyze programs in effect in their workplaces and to provide input to policy development regarding accommodation of disabled employees' needs. (3)
  • Coach employees about restructuring processes and coach managers regarding disciplinary processes and performance management. (3)
  • Advise clients concerning bargaining and arbitration issues in order to influence decisions. (3)
  • Make presentations to managers and colleagues to influence group thinking or to convince others of a course of action. (3)
  • Mediate disputes between managers of operational units, building consensus and negotiating solutions to problems in such areas as staffing, compensation, job analysis or employment equity. (4)


Problem Solving

  • Discover a skill shortage in trying to staff jobs in some highly technical areas. They prepare reports to highlight the shortage and to suggest measures for finding the needed competencies in the future. (2)
  • Notice that their organization is experiencing significant turnover in areas of high demand. They investigate the many possible reasons for the low employee-retention level and reach conclusions. They deal with the situation sensitively since some causal factors may relate to management practices. (3)
  • Encounter conflict between union and management personnel concerning labour relations issues. They mediate the dispute to bring about a resolution and to promote a harmonious workplace. The resolution may be subject to a third-party review. (4)
  • Be informed that a manager is harassing a subordinate. They examine the problem's context and seek a solution appropriate to the circumstances, taking into account that the solution must be strong enough to withstand a judicial review. (4)
  • Find that some project teams are too close to human resources issues to see them clearly. Through the provision of problem solving processes, they assist the team to identify the issues and to clarify how they may be resolved. (4)

Decision Making

  • Decide whether complaints about alleged discriminatory practices within the organization have merit and what course of action should be taken in response. (2)
  • Based on the business strategy, decide how a proposed merger will affect the structure, policies and operation of the organization. Such decisions stem from analysis and influence a broad range of future human resource practices. (3)
  • Decide on the appropriate procedures for transfers, secondments and reassignments and for defensible termination of employees in special cases. (3)
  • Decide which grievance settlement solutions will best serve the short-term and long-term needs of the organization and what strategies can be utilized most effectively to influence corporate decisions in this area. (4)

Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking information was not collected for this profile.

Job Task Planning and Organizing

Planning and organizing of job tasks varies according to the nature and volume of work assignments. Some tasks, such as the preparation of budget forecasts, are repetitive and have highly predictable deadlines, while other tasks, such as managing multi-faceted projects or rolling out complex new benefit packages, have more flexible time lines. The work generally has a great deal of variety. Frequent interruptions occur to deal with the human resource aspects of unexpected events such as employee accidents, work stoppages or special requests from senior managers. Work must be reprioritized in light of interruptions, taking into account the extent to which many tasks must be integrated into the work plans of others. The sequencing of planning priorities takes into account the impact on organizational effectiveness and employee performance.

Specialists in human resources play an integral role in their organizations strategic planning cycles through bringing to the table issues of concern to the business units and providing timely and insightful analysis. They are instrumental in communicating the strategic plan within the organization and play a key role in both the development and implementation of the plan. (4)

Significant Use of Memory

Significant Use of Memory information was not collected for this profile.

Finding Information

  • Contact employees to get information on their career goals. They use this information to assist employees in establishing their learning plans and career development strategies. (1)
  • Refer to salary surveys and compensation and benefits packages in order to develop reports on trends. (2)
  • Obtain information on grievances, case law, appeals and collective agreements through reviewing reports and other documentation, either in paper copy or on the Internet. (3)
  • Collect documentation and data regarding incidents such as harassment, discrimination and disability management in order to establish the veracity of claims. (3)
  • Review a variety of sources such as legislation on employment termination and health and safety standards to become informed of the scope of labour relations cases. (4)
  • Elicit information and develop investigative strategies to resolve discrepancies between different sources of data. (4)

Other Essential Skills:

Working with Others

Human resources specialists work independently to conduct research and develop policy papers and reports. They work as team members in both internal and external working groups. They work with industry wide professional organizations, boards and with colleagues both inside and outside of their organization. They may serve as team leaders and as internal consultants on committees, boards and projects. In these capacities, they may facilitate the organization to go in strategic directions. They may serve as counsellors or mentors when coaching employees regarding training and career development. They may develop and deliver training to managers regarding specific content areas such as new legislation, collective agreement provisions or recruitment interview techniques. (4)

Continuous Learning

Human resources professionals undertake continuous learning through courses, such as community college and university courses, through on-the-job initiatives and through highly developed networking and professional liaison. They upgrade their computer skills through a mixture of courses, networking and tutorials. They attend conferences and seminars and read professional journals to learn about best practices and emerging trends in the human resources field. Recognizing that today's learning may soon be outdated, they use their initiative to upgrade continually in order to obtain a more diverse base of skills and knowledge that will demonstrate value in serving the strategic human resource needs of the organization. (4)