As many of you know from first-hand experience, you do not need a HR degree to get an entry-level job as a staffing agent. People with degrees in business or communications often enter the field, and some people create their own staffing jobs by starting an agency from the ground up. Once you've established yourself as a staffing agent, you do not necessarily need a HR degree to be good at your job; like many jobs, you can succeed by working hard, learning about your field, and taking advantage of available opportunities.
However, at some point the question is bound to come up: would it benefit your career to get that human resources degree?
I got my HR associates degree four years after I started working as a staffing agent, and it has significantly benefited my career. I might have been able to do what I do now without the HR degree, but having the degree has made my path to success that much easier. For example, I am now much more adept at analyzing how a prospective candidate will fit into the culture of an organization, as opposed to only reviewing their technical skills. This is crucial, as success as a staffing agent occurs when you find a new employee that transitions effortlessly into the business. This newfound success has allowed me to not only be in charge of staffing at my current company, but also head of HR.
Like many students, I elected to get my HR degree online. I started it during the second year of my employment as a staffing agent, and completed it in two years. An online degree allowed me to keep my current job as I studied, and fit the work into my life and schedule. I managed to plan a wedding, for example, during my HR degree program, without missing a single class or assignment!
Here are the benefits I've seen from getting a human resources degree:
Learning the HR language
There's a lot of HR knowledge that you don't know you need until you need it, and a lot of jargon and specialized language that you need to understand to communicate effectively about human resources. For example: I was vaguely aware of changing laws surrounding compensation and benefits. My HR degree coursework made sure I understood exactly how the laws affected both temporary and permanent staff, and how to communicate in "benefits language" with insurance companies and other HR professionals. Before I took my HR courses, for example, I didn't really understand how FMLA worked, or what ODRISA stood for. Now I know how to talk about these regulations with job seekers and with other staffing peers.
I never would have linked HR to accounting until I got my degree program. Turns out that HR professionals are more closely linked to the accounting department than you think. By teaching me the fundamentals of business accounting, my HR degree program set me up to be a better asset to my current organization as well as prepare me to take on additional responsibilities in the future.
I thought I had pretty good communication skills; after all, my job seekers were getting placed, and they were doing well in their jobs! Then I realized how much I still had to learn. There are a lot of specific communication techniques HR professionals use to motivate employees and to help build trust between employees and upper management. Likewise, if an employee came to me with a complaint, I needed to learn how to listen and provide the appropriate advice. You can always learn something new about communication, and my HR degree program taught me a lot.
Management and oversight skills
HR is about so much more than job placement. It's also about helping to manage a company. This means you need to learn how to lead, and how to handle institutional management and oversight. The specific courses dealing with HR institutional management were essential to my understanding of the broader HR field.
There's one more good reason to get a human resources degree as a staffing agent: it sets you up for a potential promotion within your agency. Moving from a front-line staffing agent role to HR Specialist or HR Director is a natural path for any agent looking for increased responsibilities. With a human resources degree, especially combined with a SHRM certification, you have a good chance of moving up in your staffing agency or taking on a HR role in a different industry.
If you want to improve your skills as a staffing agent and move up in your career, a HR degree one way to get you there. It's not the only path, but it's a good path to follow.