Personnel and Labor Relations Specialists


Employment Prospects


Approximately 708,620 human resources specialists and labor relations specialists are employed in the United States. Personnel specialists primarily work in the private sector. The companies that are most likely to hire personnel specialists are the larger ones, which have more employees to manage. A small percentage of managers and specialists are self-employed as consultants to public and private employers.

Starting Out

Colleges and universities have career services offices and placement counselors who can help graduates find employment. Also, large companies often send recruiters to campuses looking for promising job applicants. Otherwise, interested individuals may apply directly to local companies.

While still in high school, you may apply for entry-level jobs as personnel clerks and assistants. Private employment agencies and local offices of the state employment service are other possible sources for work. In addition, newspaper want ads often contain listings of many personnel jobs.

Beginners in personnel work are trained on the job or in formal training programs, where they learn how to classify jobs, interview applicants, or administer employee benefits. Then they are assigned to specialized areas in the personnel department. Some people enter the labor relations field after first gaining experience in general personnel work, but it is becoming more common for qualified individuals to enter that field directly.

Advancement Prospects

After trainees have mastered basic personnel tasks, they are assigned to specific areas in the department to gain specialized experience. In time, they may advance to supervisory positions or to manager of a major part of the personnel program, such as training, compensation, or EEO/affirmative action. Advancement may also be achieved by moving into a higher position in a smaller organization. A few experienced employees with exceptional abilities ultimately become top executives with titles such as director of personnel or director of labor relations. As in most fields, employees with advanced education and a proven track record are the most likely to advance in human resources positions.

Tips for Entry

Set up an automated job search for human resources positions on a site such as to receive e-mails when positions open. This will provide useful information about what skills and experience employers are looking for.

Conduct information interviews with human resources managers and ask them for advice on landing a job.

Join the Society for Human Resource Management ( to network with other professionals.