Everything You Need to Know About HR Generalist Jobs

Everything You Need to Know About HR Generalist Jobs

Job Profile: HR Generalists

If you’re aiming for a job in Human Resources, you might have come across a position simply titled Human Resource Generalist. What does this mean? Do you have to do everything? What are the responsibilities of this role? Admittedly, the title doesn’t tell you that. But we will.

As an HR generalist, your duty is to have a broad base of generalised knowledge to provide when the opportunity presents itself. You’ll have your fingers in most jars, simply put. Plus, you’ll have some specialized functions on top. This makes you one of the most important members of the organization.

Intrigued? If so, let us delve a little deeper into the world of an HR generalist and see what you can expect!

What Is an HR Generalist?

When companies are starting out, they usually cannot afford a huge human resources department. Thus, they look for a single person to handle the entirety of HR functions on a day to day basis. This is the HR generalist. Just like it says, their job is to look at the big picture instead of specializing in a single function.

Not only does this make them invaluable, but it also means that - in most cases - the HR generalist is the first HR-hire an organization makes. As the organization grows and diversifies and can afford to hire new staff, the HR department gets further specialized into departments. Yet, the title of the HR generalist may still survive, though they may have a different role.

What Does an HR Generalist Do?

But, with all that said, what does the job entail? On top of the daily functioning of the HR department of the company, the HR generalist must stay on top of administering HR policies and procedures, as well as enacting plans and programs. This usually involves a few - or all - of the following:

  • Recruiting: New talent is the lifeblood of any company, and it is often the HR generalist’s responsibility. They have to do a background check on candidates, put together an offer, conduct interviews, negotiate salaries, and onboard new hires, among a whole host of other things.

  • Benefits Administration: Any benefits enjoyed by an employee is under the purview of the HR generalist. This includes, but is not limited to, managing healthcare benefits, pension funds, onsite daycare, free lunches, company transport, etc. Retirement plans and holidays are also a part of their duties.

  • Managing Leaves: Speaking of holidays, the HR generalist is also the person keeping track of any and all leaves, be it for vacation or medical reasons. They have to know everything that happens in the workforce that relates to employee leave so they can classify and approve leaves.

  • Employee Relations: This is an umbrella term that includes training, looking into misconduct and harassment, making plans to improve the performance of employees, conducting exit interviews, and, of course, letting employees go. From hiring to firing, it’s all the HR generalist’s domain.

Of course, these duties represent a thin slice of all the things an HR generalist has to handle - but this should give you a peek into what it takes to become an HR generalist.

How to Become an HR Generalist

As it stands, there are no fixed educational qualifications needed to become an HR generalist. However, a college-level degree in Human Resources might be a good place to start. Since you’ll be handling all the duties there are, a sound strategy is to get a grasp on all that goes into it.

A good rule of thumb is to make sure you are savvy with how people work since you’ll be dealing with people on a day to day basis. Additionally, you need top-notch organization skills to keep on top of everything that you need to plan. Finally, since you’ll be handling lots of confidential information from dozens of employees, you need to be conscientious enough to not share anything with anyone else.

Since the job calls for such a wide variety of skills, people from many different disciplines and areas can flourish here. Meaning, there is no need for certification in a specific discipline. However, there is always merit in certification programs like Professional in Human Resources (PHR). Certifying bodies such as the Human Resources Certification Institute offer specialist courses for all your needs.

HR Generalist Salary

Now for the nitty-gritty of the matter. Sure, you’ll be doing a lot of different kinds of work, but will you be getting paid enough to make it worth it? Compensation is a major factor contributing to employee happiness, and with all the hats you’ll wear, you need to make sure you’re getting enough income before you commit yourself.

That said, your salary depends mainly on the size of the company, the location, and your experience. In general, in America, HR generalists can earn from $57,000 to $71,000 in the midwest. In places such as New York, this can go up to about $81,000 to $92,000 per year.

According to the 2018 U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, the salaries of an HR generalist can be seen as below:

  • Median Annual Salary: $60,880

  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $104,390

  • Bottom 10% Annual Salary: $36,270

Keep in mind that these are generalised numbers and not representative of what you might be offered. However, this should help you manage your expectations.

HR Generalist vs. HR Specialist

As we have seen, an HR generalist has a lot of knowledge about a wide variety of subjects and related skills. However, as the company grows in size, it gets harder and harder for one person to keep track of everything and everyone. It is in these situations that specialists are hired to fill the roles and manage different departments of Human Resources.

This not only streamlines the entire process but also makes the running of the company far more efficient. On the other hand, an HR generalist with access to training and outside resources is best suited for a small business.

Are You Ready to Start Your Journey?

Being an HR generalist involves dealing with people in their various stages of life day in and day out. This makes it both challenging and exciting as a prospect. An HR generalist oftentimes sets the standard for the company because they are the first person prospective candidates have to deal with. In a sense, an HR generalist nurtures the company, making sure the sailing is smooth until it grows enough to be able to hire specialists.

If you are considering taking on the role of an HR generalist, you have to be prepared to do a lot of work. It doesn’t have to be like that, though. A great way to save some time and hassle is to automate some of the processes, and Lanteria offers you a great way of doing just that. 

With some tasks off your hands, you will have more time to give to the people who might need it and get more work done overall. To find out more, sign up for a free demo today! It’ll be the best investment you make!


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