If you are interested in getting the absolute best out of people then a career in HR and people development could be the one for you. So what kinds of qualities are important for a career in HR and L&D?

The CIPD Profession Map offers a comprehensive view of how HR adds sustained value to organisations and our research into HR functions and responsibilities has identified some key behaviours necessary for success in HR.


Are you actively interested in what’s going on around you? Are you always looking for better ways of doing things? A questioning attitude and willingness to learn can be very valuable in an HR role. You will continually be looking for ways for you and your colleagues to work better as individuals and collectively.

Decisive thinker

Being able to analyse and understand data and information quickly is important. As part of that you should be able to arrive at robust, defendable views. Whether you are looking at the financials of an organisation or project success indicators you should be able to apply any information, insights and knowledge in a structured way and propose practical options based on the best available evidence.

Skilled influencer

You’ll need to influence people at all levels both within and beyond the organisation. Many HR initiatives succeed through partnership. You’ll need to win commitment, consensus and support if you want your plans to bear fruit.

Driven to deliver

If you accept personal responsibility and have the drive to follow through on your promises you will earn the respect of your colleagues. That will make it easier to deliver on collaborative projects. You should plan, prioritise, monitor performance and be accountable for delivery.


You need to be able to work effectively and inclusively with colleagues, clients, stakeholders, customers, teams and individuals both within and beyond the organisation.

Courage to challenge

There are times when a distinctive point of view enriches the debate. Having the courage to challenge entrenched views can be a useful strength.

Role model

If you work in HR, you need to lead by example. You should act with integrity, impartiality and independence, and aim to apply sound personal judgement in every situation.

Personally credible

Human Resources isn’t like engineering: there’s rarely a definitive answer. The human side of things is always ambiguous, you never get to the bottom of things. Therein lies its great appeal. If you are able to think things through rationally, apply sound judgement and use your emotional intelligence to defend your decisions, you should prosper in HR.

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