Business Category Business: career motivation and tips to move ahead

Job description for a personnel specialist

Personnel specialists perform complex administrative and clerical tasks to support an organisation's recruitment and hiring of employees. They assist human resources managers with organizational development, employee records management, payroll processing and employee relations.

Personnel specialists also interact with job applicants and current employees. They provide information about compensation and benefit programs, work schedules, working conditions and promotional opportunities. Personnel specialists may also counsel staff on personnel issues and propose resolutions.

Career Profile

Personnel specialists search for, screen, interview and sometimes test qualified job applicants. They meet with managers in the organisation to understand their staffing needs, obtain information about job expectations and create the job specification.

Personnel specialists look for and find potential job candidates, facilitate the interview process, conduct reference checks and extend job offers to individuals. They also assist with the administration of compensation programs, such as health insurance and retirement plans.

Personnel specialists handle inquiries from employees and discuss terms with plan providers. Essentially, personnel specialists function to create and maintain a satisfied, qualified and productive workforce.

Skills for Success

Because they frequently discuss wages, working conditions and advancement opportunities within their company, personnel specialists must have an in-depth knowledge about their employer's business model and human resources policies. Knowledge of hiring laws and guidelines, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and harassment laws, is also important. Other attributes necessary for success include discretion and cultural sensitivity, the ability to relate to and communicate with people of various backgrounds and education levels, and an ethical and congenial personality.


A bachelor's degree is usually required for most entry-level jobs in human resources management. Prospective personnel specialists can prepare for a career in the industry through a blend of coursework in principles of management, collective bargaining, organizational behaviour, industrial psychology, labour laws, labour economics and labour history. Knowledge and use of computers and information technology systems is also useful, due to the increasing use of technology-enabled solutions for job searches, records management and personnel administration. Aspiring personnel specialists can also take specialised training from industry organisations, including the Society for Human Resources Management and the WorldatWork Society of Certified Professionals, to achieve professional certifications and enhance their job skills.

Career Journey

Exceptional personnel specialists with sufficient experience are candidates for promotion to jobs as employment and placement managers, compensation managers and potentially director of human resources or industrial relations. Director-level jobs can sometimes lead to top management or executive management positions.

Some personnel specialists may choose to progress their career by working for an outsourcing agency or consulting firm, while others look for training occupations. A doctorate degree is advantageous for individuals interested in academia, writing or consulting work.

Earnings Projection

The U.S. DBureau of Labor Statistics estimates human resources, training and labour relations specialists, including personnel specialists, in the United States average annual salaries ranging from £17,784 to £61,405, as of May 2009. The annual mean salary is £36,686 for all human resources, training and labour relations specialist occupations in the United States, as of May 2009. Personnel specialists employed by either a corporate enterprise organisation or federal executive branch of the U.S. government earn the most, with annual mean wages of £41,346 and £51,532, respectively, as of May 2009.