SHRM Competencies and the HR Major


Business Acumen: The ability to understand business functions and metrics within the organization and industry.

  • Significance: Business Acumen is an important competency to have mastered especially as you look to communicate with employees in various roles throughout a company. You can’t expect to compete and dominate in any activity where the rules of engagement are not known and/or fully understood. With the vast number of industries within corporate America, understanding what differentiates your industry/organization from others while also being able to interpret/interact based off metrics specific to your job signifies a baseline of understanding. This is crucial to performing on the job and progressing throughout your career.


Communication: The ability to effectively exchange and create free flow of information with and among various stakeholders at all levels of the organization to produce impactful outcomes.

  • Significance: Communication is an essential competency regardless of your position within an organization. The fundamental ability to effectively translate ideas, data, and issues are what makes efficient employees and drives a productive workforce. Also, knowing how to best avoid miscommunication and encourage this “free flow of information” are key to a successful career.


Consultation: The art of providing direct guidance to organizational stakeholders seeking expert advice on a variety of situations or circumstances.

  • Significance: Consultation is a competency that can take many different forms throughout the field of HR. With HR Analytics becoming a more widely used tool, the ability to interpret various pieces of information and translate them into meaningful reports, conversations, and/or summaries is an essential skill to have in today’s HR universe. Through data mining, employee relations, and/or standard manager/employee interactions, being able to effectively consult is essential to any HR function.


Critical Evaluation: Skill in interpreting information to determine return on investment (ROI) and organizational impact in making business decisions and/or recommendations.

  • Significance: Critical Evaluation is a competency that can be applied to almost any career one could choose to pursue. In the field of HR, there’s rarely a clear cut path to discovering underlying issues being faced by employees and/or organizations. It’s only through the holistic evaluation of an issue that a greater understanding can be achieved, and the best solution created.


Ethical Practice: The integration of core values, integrity, and accountability throughout all organizational and business practices.

  • Significance: Business and ethics go hand in hand. As a career field that is often responsible for sensitive employee information, confidential/unannounced organization specific information and ensuring adherence to various ethical procedures/policies, having an understanding of correct ethical practices is vital. Aside from the possibility of high turnover and a negative public image, without a thorough understanding of general ethical practices you, your employees, and company as a whole are put at insurmountable risk for lawsuits which can be detrimental to a organization.


Global and Cultural Effectiveness: The art of managing human resources both within and across borders and cultures.

  • Significance: Understanding and accounting for the various global perspectives and cultural differences throughout the business world is essential to being an effective communicator. In the field of HR, understanding the existing cultural norms specific to your organization and being able to adapt cross-functionally and organizationally is critical. In addition, throughout a career in HR it is likely that you will come into contact with people of numerous different backgrounds that vary from your own. It’s important that as an HR professional you have the knowledge and understanding to account for these cultural/behavioral differences in order to maximize your employees’ potential, and to create a workplace where employees feel respected & appreciated.


HR Technical Expertise: The ability to apply the principles and practices of Human Resource Management to contribute to the success of the business

  • Significance: HR Technical Expertise is a competency that will become one of the key drivers of your success as you begin your journey through corporate America. As a professional in any field, it should be your goal to not only perform your job to par, but to exceed expectations and become a master in your craft. With the aim to climb through the ranks as a respected, knowledgeable and essential HR Professional, from the moment you are declared a HR Major your primary focus should be to immerse yourself in all things HR. The ability to remain current on trends within the field, developments and shifts in business laws/culture, and being able to apply the principle practices learned throughout the HR Major and after graduation will be vital to your success.


Organizational Leadership & Navigation: The ability to direct initiatives and processes within the organization within agility and to gain buy-in from stakeholders.

  • Significance: The skill of being a responsive, direct, and compassionate leader is not something that is easily gained. Organizational Leadership, and being able to successfully navigate the various day-to-day challenges that arise with being a leader of people requires practice and heart. As the name may imply, Human Resource Management is a field that incorporates a wide array of management aspects such as hiring/firing decisions, staffing, and employee relations. It is important to not only be seen as an effective leader within your organization, but to embody the leadership skills needed to perform your duties throughout whatever adversity may arise.


Relationship Management: The ability to manage interactions with and between others with the specific goal of providing service and organizational success.

  • Significance: As a manager of employees, it is your duty to understand the needs/wants/concerns of the people you are responsible for. This starts with a mutual respect and taking direct responsibility for forging healthy relationships with not only your direct reports, but all employees within your organization. Leveraging your employees and the other relationships you’ve built, whether that be across departments, organizations, or industries, will be critical to your success as a manager and throughout your HR career.

**All Competency definitions taken from the in-class article from SHRM titled “Elements for HR Success: SHRM’s Competency Model for HR”