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5 Must-Have HR Generalist Skills: A Hiring Checklist

02/13/2024
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Reading Time: 3 minutes

The human resources (HR) department is a complex blend of administrative duties and core functions. HR generalists largely handle these routine tasks. But these handy professionals do so much more. They ensure smooth day-to-day operations and enhance the rest of the workplace.

Potential candidates for this position need a skill set that can move your entire HR department forward. But what exactly is an HR generalist, and how does the role compare to the traditional HR specialist? What skills does an applicant need to succeed in the role?

HR Generalist vs. HR Specialist

An HR generalist is a versatile all-rounder. They are adept at diverse HR functions, and HR generalist duties include everything from recruitment to employee relations. In contrast, an HR specialist is an expert who has specific knowledge and a focused understanding of a particular HR domain.

The synergy between these roles is pivotal for an HR department’s success. Generalists bring adaptability, while specialists apply their precision and expertise in HR tasks. They create a complete framework that can overcome any challenge they face.

5 Must-Have HR Generalist Skills

A skilled HR generalist is the linchpin holding the department’s many responsibilities together. They aren’t just taskmasters but the architects of your workplace’s culture. These must-have skills distinguish professionals and help you identify successful candidates for your workplace.

1. People management

As the name implies, human resource management is at the core of an HR generalist’s role. They help create a positive working environment where every employee can grow. Emotional intelligence is central to this task; empathy is what truly defines effective HR generalists. Skills like active listening go a long way to improving employee relationships.

Conflicts are unavoidable in any workplace, and it is often the HR generalist’s job to handle these friction points in a way that leaves all parties satisfied. Mediating disputes and addressing grievances with patience and grace keep a peaceful and productive workplace.

An emotional intelligence test can help you screen candidates for an HR generalist position, pinpointing those with the drive to succeed.

2. Analytical and reasoning skills

The human-centric nature of the HR generalist’s role means challenges are often complex, intertwined, and not always entirely logical. It is up to these professionals to employ analytical thinking as a guide through the intricacies of HR responsibilities. A talented HR generalist is an adept problem solver who uses lateral thinking and strategic foresight to navigate these issues.

Analytical thinking lets HR generalists understand situations critically and objectively, aiding decision-making in the company. This skill is essential when developing and implementing policies that align with organizational goals.

3. Administrative expertise

Administrative tasks make up a significant portion of every HR generalist’s work. They handle much of a company’s day-to-day people operations. HR generalists excel in organizing and managing both digital and paper documents, showcasing their essential detail-oriented talent.

A fundamental employment skill in their toolkit is proficiency in Microsoft Office—an essential toolset for making reports, communication materials, and data registries. HR generalists can use these tools to quickly complete these administrative tasks. A broad competence in clerical skills lets an HR generalist fluidly adapt to a company’s evolving demands.

4. Recruitment knowledge and skills

Beyond administrative tasks, HR generalists often assist your recruitment team in their talent acquisition efforts. An HR generalist typically evaluates resumes, conducts initial interviews, performs reference checks, and administers assessment tests. You can use a human resources test to check if your applicants can effectively handle these duties.

A stellar HR generalist understands the strategic importance of aligning recruitment efforts with broader organizational goals. Their talent evaluation and acquisition skills contribute to forming a cohesive and high-performance team.

5. Technological know-how

Technological proficiency is a cornerstone of an HR generalist’s skill set, as HR departments heavily rely on many tools and systems to streamline processes. Essential for HR generalists is knowledge of applicant tracking systems (ATS), payroll software, and benefit/leave management tools.

Proficient tool use ensures they can maneuver through the intricacies of HR tasks and collaborate with their team members for maximum efficiency. By optimizing tool utilization, they can enhance both individual and departmental HR performance.

Build a Robust HR Team

Your HR department’s success hinges on finding well-rounded HR generalists whose hard and soft skills can support and enhance their team. These professionals create a thriving workplace with the perfect team and environment for productivity. The invaluable impact of an HR team that can adapt to your evolving demands cannot be overstated.

Consider EmployTest if you’re looking to elevate your hiring process and empower your HR team. We offer a wide range of pre-employment assessment tests for a comprehensive look at a candidate’s capabilities. Try a free sample test today!