The job outlook for human resource (HR) specialists is good and the job opportunities for HR directors are varied. But HR director positions require very experienced people with commitment and leadership skills.
Presuming you have the required education, skills, abilities, and experience, how else can you stand out amongst other well educated, highly experienced, skilled candidates?
In a word, with a resume. So, we are going to give you useful guidance on how to achieve one that will get you noticed.
Resume objective for a human resource director
Even if you’ve been operating in HR in senior, strategic positions you will find that many HR director jobs require eight to ten years of very specific experience.
This is why it’s so important to draw attention to yourself when hiring managers or recruiters flip through the resumes submitted by applicants for an HR director position.
The question is, how to do this.
Traditionally, an objective or career summary on a resume was designed to show in a couple of sentences that you were suitable for the job. The problem was that it generally mirrored the job description.
In a compelling article on how to write powerful and memorable HR resumes published on the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) website, master resume writers and co-authors of Expert Resumes for Managers and Executives, Wendy Enelow and Louise Kursmark, suggest a different approach.
They advocate that HR professionals use a three-line headline statement instead, but caution that it must match your work experience as well as your ambitions for the future.
The Sample Headline, in the place of an objective, below is based on their suggestions. It starts with a headline, that is followed by a sentence that relates to experience, and then a branding statement that adds value.
Sample Headline Statement/Objective
Human Resource Director.
Experience spans from startups to high-growth organizations.
Positioning HR as a Business Partner for Excellence.
Resume skills for a human resource director
The skills required from human resource directors are in line with management and leadership positions. They include soft skills or assets like good communication, proactivity, coaching, and recruitment to hard, more technical learned skills.
Of course, the specific skills identified for applicants depend on the employment sector as well as the job description.
In general terms, HR directors take responsibility for the smooth, profitable operation of the company’s HR department.
They usually supervise and consult with management on everything related to staff including training and development, compensation, benefits, budgets for salaries, and labor relations.
According to Rasmussen University, which has campuses in various parts of the US and offers online options, there are nine main HR job skills that employers look for.
As an HR specialist with years of experience, chances are you know what these are. But let’s remind you because they are skills that could get you your next HR director position. They list:
- Employee relations
- Onboarding that helps new hires adjust
- Human Resources Information Software (HRIS)
- Performance management
- Teamwork and collaboration
- Scheduling skills
- Customer service
- Project management
- Worker’s compensation plans of action
Another skill they highlight is technological aptitude.
Communication | Responsibility | Onboarding and employee relations | Customer services | HRIS and other software applications | Performance and project management | Training | Scheduling | Strategist
Human resource director work experience
The work experience section of your resume could be the key to the success of your job application.
We sampled more than 30 recent job postings to see what sort of work experience most companies want HR directors to have had.
The type of experience was one thing and the experience time frames another. While some jobs didn’t specify experience (or education for that matter), most wanted at least five years of experience, some as much as ten.
Sometimes they specify an industry preference, for example, hospitality, health, or the insurance industry.
Otherwise, they are more general in terms of industry, but need specific HR experience, for instance directing and coordinating policies and practices or directing all personnel activities.
They might want someone who has 10 years of HR leadership experience consulting with executive leaders and providing support and collaborating in strategic planning processes.
Five years of experience might be sufficient if the applicant has successfully managed an HR team that was responsible for the delivery of HR functions.
Typically, these might include full-cycle recruiting, training and development, organizational development, employee and labor relations, strategic business partnerships, compensation, and HRIS systems.
Your resume will need to show that you have the experience they are looking for. Also, highlight your achievements.
Sample Work Experience
Professional Transportation, Inc, IN
Director of Human Resources, 2019 – 2020
Responsible for leadership, strategic planning, process improvement initiatives, recruitment, training and development, performance and talent management, benefits, and HR administration.
- Reported directly to the chief people officer and the executive vice president directly supporting two of the company’s HR department teams.
- Successfully developed and implemented HR strategies and initiatives aligned with the overall business strategy of the company.
- Took responsibility for ensuring legal compliance throughout the HR management team.
- Provided support as a business partner and handled complaints and employee relation issues.
United Dwelling Inc, CA
Director of Human Resources, 2018 – 2019
Planned and administered policies and procedures relative to all HR activities at the Company, which transformed garages into smartly designed low-cost rental homes.
- Identified legal requirements and government reporting regulations that affected HR functions to ensure that our policies, procedures, and reporting were compliant.
- Collaborated with key stakeholders to present HR trends and practices that we could use to build a positive culture and exceptional workplace experience. Within three months job applications had doubled.
- Developed core metrics, dashboards, and headcount reporting to ensure that leadership in the company had access to the information needed to initiate and execute programs based on data analysis.
- Rewarded with an unexpected salary increase after my first six months with the company.
Monarch Healthcare Management, MN
Human Resource Director, 2016 – 2017
Processed, validated, and submitted accurate time records and maintained the company’s HR database. Responsible for all administrative duties relating to HR.
- In charge of employee record, affirmative action documents, attendance and payroll documents etc. and processed claims and was responsible for follow up on all issues.
- Acted as liaison between administration and staff, undertaking conflict resolution when needed.
- Ensured the accuracy of employee timecards and implemented a system that prevented abuse.
- Took responsibility for all duties relating to payroll.
Human resource director education
Human resources specialists generally require a bachelor’s degree, and there are many jobs for HR directors that will accommodate applicants with a BA or BS degree. However, there are companies that prefer to employ people with a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree.
We scoured job postings for HR directors and only found a handful that preferred an MBA. But a bachelor’s degree with a relevant specialty was a must. And the preferred specialty was usually HR management or a related field like business or hospitality management.
Often job postings specify the need for a bachelor’s degree and experience.
Be sure that your qualifications align with what is specified in the job posting you are responding to.
We have said that it’s important to mention achievements in the section on your work experience. If you did well at university or achieved anything worth mentioning, major awards, for example, you can include it here too. If not just mention the university or school of business, the degree you earned, and the years you studied.
Keller Graduate School of Management
MBA, 2008 – 2009
- Specialization in HR
The University of South Carolina, Darla Moore School of Business
Bachelor of Science in Human Resources, 2004 – 2007
- Graduated with honors cum laude
There are online short courses aimed at professionals who want to deepen their knowledge of strategic HR management. However, if you qualify for the position of a human resource director, you should already have this knowledge.
You are likely to find the courses offered by the bodies that offer certification more useful (see below).
In addition to certification, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) offers eLearning courses and courses for recertification. They also have more than 700 on-demand recorded sessions from important SHRM conferences.
The HR Certification Institute (HRCI) also offers classes for recertification.
Additionally, Lorman Education Services offers a myriad of courses that are approved by the HRCI.
The Talent Management Institute (TMI), headquartered in Texas, has partnered with the Wharton University of Pennsylvania and they offer two programs designed for HR professionals, both of which result in certification.
- SHRM: Employment Law & Legislative Conference
- SHRM: Ethics & Compliance Course
- SHRM: A1 for HR and Talent Acquisition
- Lorman: Business Standards Ethics for the HR Professional
- TMI-Wharton Associate Fellow Program in Talent Management
There are various certifications open to HR professionals and one or other of these are often required for applicants for HR director jobs.
The SHRM promotes the role of professional human resource specialists and provides education and certification to its members.
They offer two certifications to professionals based on education and training and/or experience. They promote their certifications as adding confidence, credibility, and advancement.
The SHRM Certified Professional (CP) is available to early- and mid-career professionals while the Senior Certified Professional (SCP) is more suitable for HR managers and directors.
The HRCI, another popular certifying body, offers eight different certifications including Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR), Senior Professional in Human Resources – International (SPHRi) and Global (GPHR).
The Human Capital Institute (HCI), which is headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, offers a Strategic HR Leadership (sHRL) certification. This is ideal for HR directors because it is designed to help HR leaders improve their effectiveness and their HR team’s performance.
The TMI offers three certifications for HR graduates and senior professionals: Talent Management Practitioner (TMP), Senior Talent Management Practitioner (STMP), and Global Talent Management Practitioner (GTMP).
- SHRM – SCP
- HRCI – SPHR
- HCI – sHRL
- TMI – STMP
Complete human resource director resume sample
When we sampled job postings for human resource directorships we selected the advert below to use for a complete resume sample. It states clearly what the HR division is responsible for and says it needs a leader who values collaborative problem-solving.
Your experience, skills, and abilities should show that you have what it takes to excel in this position. We will show you how to use the words and phrases quoted as keywords in your resume.
The job responsibilities are stated in more detail below.
You will see that this job requires at least a bachelor’s degree.
It also calls for 10 years of HR leadership experience, which means you will need to have worked in HR for longer than a decade because leadership roles aren’t available to new graduates.
Certification is required by any HR accreditation organization, and the three certifying bodies we discussed earlier are mentioned.
It is important to note the request at the bottom of the job posting that asks specifically how your knowledge, skills, and abilities prepare you for the job – but in your cover letter, not your resume.
Human Resources Director
Human Resource Director with 14 years of experience, 12 in strong leadership roles. Committed to strong values of equity and inclusion. Ready to inspire and provide a vision for the future. Experience spans from startups to high-growth organizations.
Positioning HR as a Business Partner for Excellence.
Collaborative problem solving | Authenticity | Leads by example | Organizational skills | Good communication and interpersonal skills | Training and development| Workforce planning | Data management | HRIS
Director of Human Resources, 2016 – 2020
Led a wide range of HR services and partnerships supporting the strategic goals and initiatives of the organization. Partnered with the business to formulate and execute plans to optimize structure, systems, processes, and people.
- Consulted with business leaders and translated the strategic goals of the business into actionable people plans.
- Ensured that all HR operations, programs, and associated processes were well executed and aligned with organizational goals.
- Established a successful system for solving HR problems that involved identifying trends early, mapping out solutions, and executing against the best of these in the interests of the business.
- Led and managed multiple HR business areas that included HR business partners, talent acquisition, talent planning and management, training and development, and performance management, and HR systems.
Spokane County, WA
Human Resources Director, 2012 – 2015
Directed, managed, supervised, and planned activities and services that were provided by the County’s HR Department. Coordinated activities with other county departments and outside agencies.
- Modeled proactive, creative, and strategic leadership that utilized a strong team approach.
- Functioned as a strategic business advisor to the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC), the Chief Executive Officer, and various officials on key labor relations, personnel, and management issues and problems.
- Conducted and oversaw investigations into three whistleblower complaints relating to discrimination and harassment. They were all resolved.
- Oversaw the County’s labor relations program and served as the Hearing Officer for contract grievances.
Comcast Corporation, WA
Director, Human Resources, 2009 – 2011
Proactively supported the development and execution of HR strategies and processes for the Comcast Washington region. Managed complex HR projects cross-functionally. Executed talent management strategies that included succession planning.
- Led a team of HR Business Partners. This function included direct supervision, hiring, training, and performance management.
- Developed, implemented, and coordinated policies and procedures for the HR department.
- Counseled leaders and employees on disciplinary actions and performance issues.
- Operated HRIS systems to maintain the integrity of relevant data.
Evergreen Public Schools, WA
Human Resources Coordinator, 2007 – 2008
Assisted with the day-to-day administration and coordination of the Human Resources Department. Managed multiple projects and was trusted to make decisions and solve problems.
- Coordinated the Fundamental Courses of Study training for paraeducator-classified positions.
- Recommended new approaches that helped to improve the efficiency of the HR Department.
- Ensured consistency in compliance with the collective bargaining agreements and district policies and procedures.
- Coordinated S-275 state reporting and assisted with district budgeting preparation.
- Established a strong rapport and built trust with my colleagues and the union leadership.
- HRCI – SPHR
- HCI – sHRL
- TMI – STMP
Washington State University
Bachelor of Human Resource Management (HRM), 2000 – 2009
- All Employees Play a Role in Creating a Respectful Culture (SHRM)
- Talent Management (SHRM)
- SHRM Talent Management Conference & Exposition
- Developing an Organizational Leadership Program (Lorman)
- Payroll Operations During the COVID-19 Pandemic (Lorman)
- Effective Strategies to Document Employee Discipline (Lorman)
The jobs offered to HR directors are senior positions that require a university education and substantial experience. Most graduates aiming for this position will start out as an HR coordinator or even an apprentice, and then move up to specialist and managerial positions, and then to directorships.
- Human resource directors are leaders and employers want people with very strong leadership skills. The best way to show that you have these is with the experience of being a leader. The complete resume sample above shows that the applicant has had 12 years of experience in leadership roles. Examples of leadership are also provided in the sample resume.
- People skills are also very important because HR directors work in a team and are often required to solve problems that entail working through issues with other people. For instance, they might sort out grievances and investigate complaints. This might lead to taking disciplinary action or working out other solutions.
- Certification is important in this industry and several highly regarded bodies offer professional certifications for senior HR specialists, including directors. Since certification can be applied for at any time, any HR specialist who isn’t certified should consider taking the exams. Certification isn’t just an achievement, it also increases HR knowledge and your credibility.
- You don’t have to include an objective in your resume, but a headline statement or even a very short focused-on-you career summary might help to make your HR resume stand out.
Tips from Experts
“HR professionals sometimes find it difficult to quantify achievements. After all, HR is not sales. But we encourage you to dig deep to find results wherever possible. Often if you ask yourself about the problem you solved—not just the activity, but why that activity was important to the business—you can find positive and perhaps measurable outcomes.” – Wendy Enelow and Louise Kursmark, master resume writers and co-authors of Expert Resumes for Managers and Executives
“Employers require a broad range of skills and qualifications in their descriptions of HR Director positions. The top three keywords make up 47.99% of the total set of top terms. Look to the Resume Checklist below to see how Leadership Development, Management Training, and Sales and Marketing shares stack up against the share from resumes. Public Relations, Human Resources Experience, and Business Management represent an additionally healthy share of the employer HR Director job postings with their combined total of 26.59%. At 25.42%, Marketing Campaign, Entrepreneurship, Hospitality, and Consumer Marketing appear far less frequently, but are still a significant portion of the 10 top HR Director skills and requirements according to employers.” – ZipRecruiter, a leading online employment marketplace headquartered in California
You’ve been working as an industry leader in HR for years and you might believe that this negates the need for a good resume. If this is what you think, you’re wrong. To continue climbing the ladder of success, if you want a new job you also need an updated, industry-savvy resume.
We’ve provided you with tips and ideas, please feel free to use them, but tailor them to your own situation and the job you are applying for. Best of luck!