Everything you need to know about an HR manager career

Do you like working with people? Do you find satisfaction in resolving conflict and finding solutions to complicated problems? A career as an HR manager could be the right path for you. HR—short for human resources—is responsible for bridging the gap between a company's needs and goals and the welfare of the people working there.

From what the daily life of an HR manager looks like to what type of skills is necessary, going through the pros and cons of this job, we will answer all your questions.


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This human resource manager role is part of the Top 15 Best Jobs in Canada in 2023, ranking in second position.

Here's why.

what is the job of an HR manager? 

Human Resource managers oversee the company’s human resource functions, including recruitment and workforce management. Businesses employ HR managers with experience managing a team of professionals specializing in everything from talent acquisition, onboarding, employee benefits, and training.

why is this job in demand?

The ongoing labour shortages have made for an increased demand for HR managers. In the post-pandemic world, businesses are facing many challenges that HR managers have been expected to take on. In today’s competitive job market, budget constraints, the looming skills gap, and worker expectations shifts forced many HR departments to adopt new workplace practices that included remote and hybrid work options. This new reality in today’s workforce isn’t expected to go away anytime, making for HR managers to be attractive for companies to hire and retain.

what are the career prospects?

In terms of the growth of the human resources field, the Canadian government estimates there are likely to be 49,000 job openings in human resources between now and 2028. This includes spaces for current employees who are retiring as well as newly created jobs. The demand represents good recent job growth and a positive outlook for those looking to move into the field.

what can you expect in terms of salary?

For an HR manager, entry-level positions can vary between 75k to 113k, whereas people with 5 years of experience will earn between 88k to 156k . Where you will get the best salary: Greater Toronto Area.

what skills do you need to thrive on the job?

There are many key skills that top HR managers must have. These skills include but aren’t limited to agility, analytics, communication, empathy, compassion, discretion, and ethics. HR managers also need strong interpersonal skills, including conflict resolution, negotiation, and problem-solving skills.  HR managers need to be comfortable using workflow management tools, including Talent Management Software (TMS), Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS) or Application Tracking Software (ATS). HR professionals looking to enhance their job opportunities should work towards gaining experience working with these platforms as well as becoming Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP).

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about the role

what do hr manager profession entail?

HR managers deal with many issues relating to employee grievances, as well as developing and implementing strategies that work towards the company's overall goals while minimizing the likelihood of grievances. HR managers are often responsible for managing the recruitment and selection process as well; this will often be a significant part of the manager's role.

what is a typical work schedule for hr managers

As an HR manager, you will mostly be working a typical office schedule of 40 hours a week. The exceptions to this rule include travelling for business meetings and travelling between sites if you work for a large company with multiple offices. Depending on the type of company you work for and the type of positions you recruit for, you may also have to travel to meet prospective hires, and this may also involve working outside of normal office hours. That being said, the majority of your work will be within the typical "nine-to-five".

what are common hr manager interview questions?

  • Tell us about yourself? When answering this question, try to avoid rambling or talking about things that are irrelevant to the job you are applying for. The question may be open-ended, but you don't want to fill your potential employer's ears with information that won't get you a job. Stay on topic, and talk about things that show how good you will be for the company.
  • Why did you choose us? Your employer-to-be may ask you about your reasons for applying for a role with them. This is another opportunity to show how well you will fit in at the company, as well as showing that you have done your research—a sign to your employers that you are thorough.
  • What are your weaknesses? When discussing your weaknesses, don't just start listing off everything that you don't like about yourself. Your employer wants to know that you acknowledge your weaknesses, but they don't need to know everything. They will also like to see that you are working on your weaknesses, so be prepared to demonstrate how you are handling them.

hr manager resume and cover letter requirements

Your cover letter and resume are usually the first thing your potential employer sees of you, so it’s important to focus on the right information. Your resume should include;

  • Name and contact information.
  • Brief summary of experience/skills.
  • Employment history.
  • Education/qualifications.
  • Examples of accomplishments.
  • Social media accounts (if work-related).
  • Work-related skills.

In your cover letter, elaborate on the things you included in your resume. Explain why you will be a good fit for them, rather than just relying on qualifications and experience to do the job for you. That being said, you do still want to expand on the experience and qualifications you have.

what is the job outlook for hr managers?

With society becoming increasingly complex, the need for HR managers has never been so strong, and it looks set to get stronger in the coming years. There are also plenty of opportunities for former HR managers. As mentioned above, a lot of experience is gained working in this role, so if you have plans to move on to more senior positions or related fields, your time as an HR manager will be more than enough to get your foot in the door.

what are the different types of hr managers?

The reality of being a human resources manager is that you will likely have to deal with a range of types of responsibility, so while the list below can be seen as different types of, you should be prepared to have to perform all of these roles.

  • Recruitment and selection: Following internal hiring policies, you will be required to hire new recruits for various positions around the company—not necessarily positions you have any expertise in. Hiring will need to be in line with any laws regarding discrimination. Depending on the type of role being hired for, this may involve travelling to meet potential hires.
  • Health and safety: Healthy and safety professionals are there to keep the workplace safe, overseeing policies and regulations within the company, as well as ensuring that any governmental regulations are adhered to.
  • Training and development: It often falls to the human resources department to handle some or all of the training and onboarding of new employees, as well as ongoing training and development.

Some other types of human resources managers include;

  • Risk management
  • Labour and employee relations
  • Compensation and benefits

what are the pros of hr manager career?

  • Management experience: If you are looking towards bigger things in your future career, being an HR manager can provide you with invaluable management experience. Your role will see you managing everything from conflict to finances, and all of this will serve you well in future management positions, both as personal experience and as something on your resume.
  • Job satisfaction: As a human resource manager, you will often be faced with problems and conflicts that need resolving. This can be very rewarding for people who like to see the results of their efforts come to fruition.
  • Interpersonal skill development: Part of your role will naturally involve dealing with other people and in a variety of situations. This will help you develop your interpersonal skills—skills that are useful in all walks of life.
  • Pay: The average pay for a human resources manager is around $10,000 per year higher than the national average, and that still leaves room to earn more as you become more experienced and gain more seniority.

what are the cons of hr manager career?

  • Higher competition: For all the reasons mentioned in the "pros" section, the role of an HR manager is a desirable one, and that means there is a lot of competition when new positions come up. Additionally, there will typically be people within the organization looking to fill the role, and that can make applying from outside of the company even more competitive.
  • Legal liability: One of the most notable roles of an HR manager—at least in the perception of the media and people who do not work in HR—is involvement in matters that can ultimately lead to legal action. These can include things like wrongful dismissal, harassment, and a range of other things. It will often be your role as HR manager to deal with problems and have systems in place to ensure this doesn't happen.
  • Higher experience requirements: HR managers have to deal with a wide range of issues, which makes experience more invaluable. Because of this, you will stand a far better chance of being hired if you have experience working in HR.

what are the duties and responsibilities of an hr manager?

HR managers have a wide range of responsibilities, and, while some may specialize in certain areas, it is generally the case that you will have most of these responsibilities on some level;

  • Bridge the relationship between employees and management, such as addressing grievances.
  • Foster a positive working environment, thus reducing the risk of conflict and improving work efficiency.
  • Develop and implement strategies that achieve the goals of the human resources department while still aligning with the overall business strategy.
  • Manage the recruitment of new employees, possibly travelling to meet candidates in a "head-hunting" scenario where the company is interested in a specific person for the role.
  • Maintain pay plans and benefits programs in a way that acts as an incentive and morale boost for the employees while being a financially sound policy for the company.

where do hr managers typically work?

HR managers almost exclusively work in an office environment, so if you are the kind of person who likes to get out and about during your work, this may not be the role for you. The bright side, of course, is that you will be working in a comfortable environment. That being said, if there is some travel involved, such as attending business meetings, seminars, and even travelling to meet people the company is interested in hiring.

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what is the average salary for an hr manager?

The average salary of a human resources manager is approximately $80,000 per year based on an hourly rate of $41. As mentioned above, this is comfortably higher than the national average in Canada. Indeed, the low end of the scale for HR managers is around $68,000 for entry-level, which is roughly the national average. At the other end of the scale, higher-earning HR managers will be making around $100,000 per year. It is certainly possible for a skillful and experienced HR manager to make more, but it is not common.

average hr manager salaries in canada

  • annual: $80,000
  • monthly: $6,560
  • weekly: $1,640
  • hourly: $41

Top paying areas for HR managers in Canada include: British Columbia, Ontario, and Alberta.

These numbers can vary depending on your location and the type of position you're looking for. Check out our salary guide to get a better idea of the average salary for your job based on your location.

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skills & training

what skills and competencies do hr managers need?

A list of the skills and competencies you should expect to need as an HR manager includes:

  • Solid communication skills: HR managers are, ultimately, there to deal with people. Whether it stems from understanding management and executives or listening to the grievances of employees, communication skills are critical to this role. Beyond those communication skills, the ability to empathize is also very useful.
  • An ability to plan and organize: A strong sense of planning will make your time as an HR manager easier, as it will be your responsibility to put together strategies and policies to prevent the kind of problems that it will ultimately be your job to take care of. 
  • Interpersonal skills: Good listening and negotiation skills are useful as when you find yourself dealing with an employee with a grievance, you will need to diffuse the situation in a way that doesn't put the company at risk or make the employee feel undervalued.

Of course, it will also be necessary for you to have knowledge of HR systems and databases, as well as experience with human resources metrics. But the soft skills that will serve you best in your role are:

  • Confidence
  • An ability to stay objective in the face of emotional stimuli

what training and certifications do hr managers need?

To become a human resources manager, you will need at least a bachelor's degree, which means a stint in higher education before you consider applying for a manager's position. Fortunately, you will also need to consider getting experience in order to stand a good chance of getting the role, so you can use this time in education to gain that experience, either through work placements or part-time jobs. Some jobs may require a master's degree.

Of course, a degree in human resources is the best option, but related topics—such as business, communications or psychology—can also be acceptable. If you have the opportunity, gaining qualifications in these other fields as well as a degree in human resources will certainly help your application stand out.

ready to grow your career in the human resource sector?

Make sure your resume is up-to-date, including information about your technical skills and certifications. Then share it with us to connect with a recruiter and be matched with job opportunities.

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Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about HR manager jobs.

ready to grow your career in the human resource sector?

Make sure your resume is up-to-date, including information about your technical skills and certifications. Then share it with us to connect with a recruiter and be matched with job opportunities.

meet a recruiter

meet a recruiter

Make sure your resume is up-to-date, including information about your technical skills and certifications. Then share it with us to connect with a recruiter and be matched with job opportunities.

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