A Quick Guide to Human Resources Key Terms and Definitions

Human Resources (HR) is a core function of business that concerns the hiring, training, and management of employees, the determination and administration of employee compensation and employee benefits, such as sick and vacation leave, and conflict management among employees. HR includes a variety of specific functional areas that are present in both the public and private sectors.

Talent, in the professional sense, is the term used to define the individuals that make up the professional staff of an organization, as well as potential new employees. Thus, talent acquisition is the process through which an organization determines its staffing needs, including what professional skills are desired, and hires new employees.

Within talent acquisition, some professional roles focus on making decisions regarding how many new employees to hire, what skills (such as knowledge of data management tools, or strong written and verbal communication skills) make an applicant most competitive, or what compensation will be for a new employee. This process also includes using this information to create a job description and posting the job opportunity on the organization’s website or job board. Other talent acquisition roles focus specifically on finding talent, deciding which candidates to invite to a job interview, and which to ultimately hire.

A professional who travels to different locations and events searching for qualified individuals to hire is called a recruiter. A recruiter’s role is to search for talent using any possible resources available – this includes traveling to national conferences (such as the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference or Predictive Analytics World), using online professional tools, such as LinkedIn, to search for individuals with specific skills sets, attending university career fairs, such as the Business Career Fair, which took place on campus last month, or utilizing his or her own personal networks to find top candidates. Full cycle recruiting refers to the overall recruiting process, starting from determining the need for a role, to hiring an individual into that role.

Training and Development is another major branch of HR and concerns both the ways in which new employees are taught to perform the responsibilities of their jobs (training), and the methods through which existing employees learn new skills or information needed to improve their job performance (development). The goal of this process is two-fold: to help employees perform their jobs to the best of their abilities, which in turn, helps a company or organization achieve its goals.

Some additional important HR terms are:

HR Generalist: An HR professional who focuses on the core aspects of Human Resources within an organization, which include the aforementioned tasks: determining the need for new employees and what skills would make a new employee most desirable, recruiting, administering compensation and benefits, and organization training and development practices. A professional in HR who focuses primarily on a specific task within that list, such as Benefits, is called an HR Specialist.   

PHR: Professional in Human Resources is a professional certificate that identifies an HR professional as an expert in understanding of the core aspects of Human Resource development, as well as U.S. employment laws and regulations.

By Eli Heller (He/Him)
Eli Heller (He/Him) Career Coach Eli Heller (He/Him)