A sub-type of HR jobs, HR assistant roles are often the point of liaison between employees and management itself and, as such, occupy a very 'hands on' role.

The basic job description

The average HR assistant works in an office and spends a lot of time on the computer. Their primary role is to keep records of a company’s staff. These records contain material about each worker including name, address, job title, pay, benefits, and other information. The HR assistant will keep these records up-to-date and will create reports for managers.

Additionally, some HR assistants will answer emails and the phone or even help to hire employees. Other basic duties involve researching online to find qualified job applicants, conducting preliminary interviews, checking references, and making calls to schedule interviews or hire individuals.

A day in the life of an HR assistant

Depending on the company, an HR assistant may have a wide variety of responsibilities, but will often be the keeper of any and all employee records.

This means that HR assistants will:

  • Update the appropriate forms when employees receive promotions or switch benefit plans
  • Prepare reports for managers throughout various departments
  • Screen job applicants
  • Administer aptitude, personality, and interest tests
  • Explain the company’s employment policies
  • Request references
  • Discuss the details of the job to those the company may hire

Some HR assistants will also be responsible for processing payroll, tracking holiday and absences due to sickness and filing employee audits. HR professionals act as the employee advocate and will often convey employee issues and concerns to management for resolution.

Furthermore, it is the HR assistant that may be responsible for planning any employee recognition events such as the annual away day, holiday party, or employee recognition dinner. In all cases, the HR assistant will provide clerical support for the HR manager, which may include departmental filing, travel arrangements, and other miscellaneous duties.

Variations on the role

Though the basic principles will likely remain the same, HR assistants at smaller companies will have more responsibilities than those at larger firms. However, a key aspect of the HR assistant job is to work directly with the employees – both current, past, and potential. HR assistants may very well conduct interviews, but more often sit in and collect important information. He or she will work with current employees to ensure that they are aware of workplace practices, salary, and vacation time to name a few.

Good background for HR assistants

In the next few years, HR employment is expected to grow significantly. Starting work as an HR assistant is an excellent way to get a foot in the door and learn the ropes. This job is well suited for individuals that are sharp, quick thinking, and highly organised. While many employers look favourably upon those with a university degree, it is not essential to become an HR assistant.

The ideal HR assistant will be confident, neat, well-dressed, diplomatic, pleasant – and most importantly – must enjoy working with people. A good working knowledge of basic computer skills is essential and some knowledge of basic human resources laws is helpful.