GUIDE 2022

How to Become an HR Project Manager

Are you interested in how to become an HR project manager? We have got everything covered for you.

A human resources project manager is an important position in a company that supervises the implementation of HR-related tasks and projects. These managers are responsible for starting, handling, and executing different projects designed to improve the HR function within an organization. They work to manage day-to-day HR operations, such as staffing decisions, employee evaluation, performance reviews, and so on. Some of their key duties include:

  • Planning, performing and checking different HR processes, including hiring, training, orientation, and development of employees
  • Researching, assessing, and examining HR business processes and requirements that impact operations
  • Participating in the establishment, implementation, and maintenance of goals and policies
  • Planning, developing and implementing programs to assist in the accomplishment of defined objectives
  • Taking part in the development and implementation of changes in the human resources and other management systems within the company
  • Generating reports that summarize business data for discussions and strategic planning in response
  • Collaborating with project stakeholders and other business teams to ensure on-time delivery of tasks and deliverables
  • Developing projects according to the approved protocols and methods that ensure delivering budgets within budget and on time while meeting all standards and expectations
  • Managing and monitoring all HR projects right from the initiation phase to implementation, including scope, changes, and risks
  • Leading project teams, working with project team members, and offering guidance and direction. Also, directing in accordance with the project plan actions and tasks and driving results from the project team
  • Coordinating the planning and implementation of staff benefit programs, including insurance, retirement savings plans, and so on
  • Giving project delivery satisfaction by interacting with stakeholders in a positive manner, building trusted work connections and supporting coworkers in taking benefits from these connections with internal resources

Now that you are familiar with the job duties of an HR project manager, it is time to find out how to become one. In the next section of this post, we are going to cover this in five steps. Let’s have a look:

Steps to Become a Human Resources Project Manager

Following are the five steps to becoming an HR project manager:

  1. Learn HR Project Management Basics
  2. Develop Your HR Project Management Skills
  3. Build HR Project Management Work Experience
  4. Get a Deep Understanding of HR Project Management
  5. Enhance Your HR Project Manager Resume

Learn HR Project Management Basics

To become an HR project manager, you need to understand that human resources project managers are the soul of a project. This position has a great responsibility, right from project planning to execution and closure. Due to this, this position also demands expertise in different areas. Here are the fundamentals of human resources project management that you must learn:

Project Initiation

This is the beginning of your HR project lifecycle. Your human resources team draws up a plan for the project’s feasibility and defines the major objectives for the project. In case of the absence of important elements to complete your project, you will communicate this to management through a feasibility study at this phase.

Project Planning

When the management gives permission for the project to start operations, the time comes to plan the type and the order of tasks. You also draw up a budget for allocating the resources the company offered to you to complete the project. In HR, project planning also involves planning for external projects, as project managers will demand suitable staff for their projects.

Project Execution

This point works as the core of the project – it involves the fulfillment of tasks and actions related to the project itself.

Project Monitoring and Control

The monitoring and control of the actions mean ensuring your team completes their tasks. You need to track what tasks the team performs to ensure there is no change of scope. In this field, the part of monitoring and control also includes time tracking of tasks related to the projects so that you can understand how long similar projects will take in the future.

Project Closure

The last element is project closure which refers to the project delivery. Some of its important parts in HR include:

  • Delivery of a final product to management
  • Self-evaluation of staff and their performance
  • General performance evaluation of the project team

Develop Your HR Project Management Skills

It will always remain a good idea to hone the technical and workplace skills involved in HR project management. Below are some common skills requested in HR project manager job descriptions:

Human Resource Management

Those with the right HR skills in your team will lead to the project’s success. Human resource management lets you keep your team productive and helps you ensure there is a backup of resources all the time. HR project managers also provide training to their team members on different project management approaches that appear as an ideal fit for their project.

Project Management Approaches and Methodologies

Project management methodologies are a set of processes and procedures that determine how you manage a project. These can help define, standardize, and manage techniques for task execution. There are different project management methodologies, each suitable for a different situation. As a human resources project manager, you must know about different project management methodologies that exist.

Project Management Software and Tools

In today’s world, communicating, collaborating, and sharing schedules across teams and stakeholders have become quite convenient. So, HR project managers must know how to use communication and collaboration software and take the lead in managing them. Some tools that HR project managers must know how to use are:

  • Communication tools (email, chat, and video conferencing applications)
  • Collaboration tools (Google Drive, Google Sheets, Dropbox)
  • Scheduling tools (digital calendars and Gantt charts)
  • Work management tools (Jira, Asana, Trello)

Communication

HR professionals act as liaisons between workplace stakeholders, including executives, managers, and employees. Excellent oral and written communication are among the key skills for project management professionals to have. From empathy and discussions to conflict resolution, the nature of this position demands interaction with different kinds of people and situations throughout the day. For all these reasons, effective communication is vital to ensuring that all employees are aware of the goals and share a common understanding of what is required.

Leadership

Leadership is useful in making all parts of a project team come and work together as a unit to achieve a goal. It involves influencing decisions without getting authoritative, knowing how to motivate team members, and balancing the requirements of the team with the project needs. So, developing leadership skills is essential to enhance your skill set. A good project manager help instill the values of the company into its culture and ensure all workers have and uphold the values of the company through the implementation of its policies and practices.

Time Management

Since HR project managers act as a liaison between multiple parties, they must have good time management skills. They need to ensure the on-time delivery of all tasks, and that HR projects are progressing as per the plan.

Human resources professionals are responsible for different time-sensitive tasks, including employee documentation – sending out employee contracts and arranging benefits; meetings – scheduling employee appraisals and performance reviews, meetings with HODs, and interviews with prospective and exiting employees; compliance – following policies and practices on time and ensuring the company has met its legal obligations concerning compliance matters. With good time management skills, HR professionals can prioritize tasks coming from different departments on a daily basis.

Risk Management

Like others, no HR project comes with potential risks. A good HR project manager must have an eye for potential risks and know how to mitigate them for smoother project delivery. You must have the ability to identify when and how unanticipated events that could derail your project might happen, how to control the chances of them occurring, and how to handle them if they do.

Organization

The organization is important for all project managers. Organizational skills are the abilities that you must have to stay focused on different tasks and coordinate timelines, meetings, and efforts with different teams and other companies. These skills can take different forms according to your particular workplace and job title, but they involve maintaining an organized workspace, meeting due dates, and communicating well with your HR team.

Budgeting

Many human resources projects will have budget constraints. You must know where costs might increase and how to prioritize tasks and delegate resources to ensure the project remains under the budget. While you might be the second person responsible for managing the project budgets working for a large organization, it is good to know what elements can increase the budget, how to reduce the costs, and when to increase it.

All in all, you can develop skills by joining courses specific to project management and human resources or practicing them in the workplace.

Build HR Project Management Work Experience

Most of the time, employers prefer candidates with some professional experience in HR project management. In fact, some companies prefer your experience as an HR project manager over your degree. While some people work at nonprofit organizations where they can manage HR projects, others choose to freelance to work as human resources project managers. Looking for jobs as a human resource project manager may also help you learn the skills you need to become one.

Get a Deep Understanding of HR Project Management

Getting a detailed understanding of human resources project management and focusing on your business’s strategic objectives and resources are a lot to do. Certifications can help you master your skills and give you the confidence to get your foot in the door for HR project management jobs. Here are some to consider:

Enhance Your HR Project Manager Resume

After getting work experience and essential skills in the human resources field, take some time to enhance your resume. Check HR project manager job listings, from entry-level to executive positions, to find out what companies are looking for. Highlight all the qualifications you have that go with the job requirements and feature them on your resume. While mentioning your previous job responsibilities, use action verbs to describe the tasks and emphasize any quantifiable outcomes.

Wrapping Up

Human resources project management is about ensuring that project teams have the required time, skills, resources, and direction they need to meet the project objectives and create value for the company. To become an HR project manager, you need to have excellent communication and organizational skills and relevant education and work experience. In addition to following the above-mentioned steps, you can also join different courses on HR project management. So, become a human resources project manager now and improve the odds of a successful project by helping the team work in an efficient and effective manner.

Josh Fechter
Josh Fechter is the founder of HR.University. He's a certified HR professional and has managed global teams across 5 different continents including their benefits and payroll. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.