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5 Necessary Soft Skills for HR Professionals

All roles require soft skills, but HR professionals need them in spades. 

After all, they spend most of their day with people, putting in countless hours talking to, consoling, listening to, and congratulating employees. 

But what are the soft skills they need most? 

And how do they manifest in HR’s day-to-day? 

Below, I outline five skills HR professionals need to navigate the challenging and complex world of HR, along with examples of how they might come into play in real life. 

5 Key Soft Skills for HR 

In order to be successful, HR professionals need to be: 

1. Creativity

In HR, you’re juggling multiple issues at once, and the only way you’re going to solve them is to get creative. 

Taking stock of the resources at your disposal, leveraging the different skill sets of your team members, and collaborating with other departments can help you brainstorm solutions to even the most complex problems. 

Even injecting creativity in more mundane tasks like writing job descriptions or putting together compliance documentation can make you a more dynamic thinker and valuable asset. 

2. Strong, empathetic communicators 

HR professionals often have to deal with sensitive situations and share not-so-great news. While that’s never fun, delivering a tough message directly yet empathetically can go a long way toward de-escalating a conversation or making someone feel better. 

For instance, putting someone on a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) needs to be framed so as not to frustrate or belittle them. Laying people off requires extreme tact and concision, or you risk damaging the company’s reputation. Being able to deliver important news clearly and concisely is an ideal characteristic in HR. 

Listening is an often overlooked yet essential part of communication. Deeply listening to others can help you communicate better with different segments of the organization. 

3. Process-oriented 

There’s no getting around it — some things in HR are just black and white. There’s no room for experimentation; you have to follow a set process. 

Staying organized, paying attention to detail, and following set instructions will be part of your everyday. To that end, you should be willing to (maybe even enjoy!) work within those constraints. 

For example, if you’re doing an in-depth investigation of a worker’s compensation claim, deviating from standard data collection or interviewing techniques could result in a much meatier lawsuit and lost revenue for the company. Being extra diligent will help you complete the job faster, more efficiently, and more effectively. 

4. Flexible 

In HR, you’re dealing with people. And as much as we like to think we know how they will behave, people are unpredictable. 

That means you have to be adaptable. Rolling with the punches will help you focus on the next best action and get everyone on track. 

Say someone delivering a major compliance training gets sick, or the person who normally onboards the engineering unexpectedly puts in his notice. Maybe a candidate has an emergency and needs to adjust their start date, and you know the hiring manager will be upset. 

Reacting to these incidents as bumps in the road and focusing on what you can do in the moment keeps the company moving and minimizes disruption. 

5. Decisive 

Folks that work in HR are faced with decisions every day, multiple times a day. 

They have to feel comfortable making tough decisions — sometimes with limited information. The best HR leaders take the time to do some baseline research, listen carefully to the parties involved, and think about the consequences of making one choice over another. 

Sometimes that may mean cutting a certain program people poured a ton of hours into, pulling the plug on a new HR software vendor, or making the difficult choice of letting somebody go. Being able to keep your cool, gather the facts, and handle things as they come will serve you well. 

Develop and Market Your Skills 

HR is a critical department in any organization. Proving you have the soft skills to take a company’s processes, communication, and decision-making to the next level is sure to set you apart. 

And if you’re in the market for an HR role, let me know! I’m happy to help you assess your current soft skills, give you the resources to help you grow, and place you in the right position at the right company. 

If you’re looking for HR candidates, reach out to me or contact us at Planet Pro. All of our recruiters are connected to highly skilled professionals who would greatly benefit your organization. 

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