California Occupational Guides

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Detailed Guide for

Human Resources Specialists in Santa Clara County

May also be called: Corporate Recruiters; Employment Coordinators; Employment Program Representatives; Employment Specialists; Executive Recruiters; Personnel Coordinators; Recruiters; and Recruiting Managers

What Would I Do?

Every organization wants to attract the most qualified employees and match them to jobs for which they are best suited. However, many enterprises are too large to permit close contact between top management and employees. Consequently, they employ Human Resources Specialists (HR Specialists), who recruit, interview, and hire new staff in accordance with policies established by top management. HR Specialists serve as the vital link between an organization's decision-makers and its labor force.

Because of this link, HR Specialists prepare and maintain employment records related to events such as hirings, terminations, leaves, transfers, or promotions. They are the main points of contact for employee questions concerning these events and other employee relations issues, such as harassment allegations, work complaints, or other concerns. As such, the HR Specialists must maintain current knowledge of Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) and affirmative action guidelines and laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

In an effort to enhance morale and productivity, limit job turnover, and help organizations increase performance and improve business results, HR Specialists also help their firms effectively use employee skills, provide training and development opportunities to improve those skills, and increase employees’ satisfaction with their jobs and working conditions. They also maintain organizational charts, employee handbooks, and performance evaluation forms.

Today’s HR Specialists manage these tasks, but, increasingly, they also consult with top executives regarding strategic planning. They have moved from behind-the-scenes staff work to leading the company in suggesting and changing policies.

Tools and Technology
HR Specialists use a variety of tools and technology in their work. They use computers, tablets, smart phones, and calculators. They also use software such as information retrieval or search and spreadsheet applications.

Important Tasks and Related Skills

Each task below is matched to a sample skill required to carry out the task.

View the skill definitions
TaskSkill Used in this Task
Interpret and explain human resources policies, procedures, laws, standards, or regulations.Deductive Reasoning
Confer with management to develop or implement personnel policies or procedures.Oral Comprehension
Inform job applicants of details such as duties and responsibilities, compensation, benefits, schedules, working conditions, or promotion opportunities.Oral Expression
Maintain current knowledge of Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) and affirmative action guidelines and laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).Reading Comprehension
Hire employees and process hiring-related paperwork.Personnel and Human Resources
Prepare or maintain employment records related to events such as hiring, termination, leaves, transfers, or promotions, using human resources management system software.Writing
Address employee relations issues, such as harassment allegations, work complaints, or other employee concerns.Problem Sensitivity
Source: U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Information Network (O*NET)

Working Conditions

Human Resources Specialists typically work in clean, well-lit office settings. However, they may travel occasionally, perhaps to campuses to recruit soon-to-be college graduates or run a job fair booth.

HR Specialists may spend a good amount of time on the computer, so eyestrain and neck pain are common risks. With proper eye safety and ergonomics, these risks are often minimized.

Many Specialists work a standard 40-hour week. However, longer hours might be necessary for some workers when contract agreements are being prepared and negotiated.

The Human Resources Specialist occupation is generally not unionized. However, these Specialists may belong to their local Office and Professional Employees International Union of the AFL-CIO.

Will This Job Fit Me?

The occupation of Human Resources Specialist typically involves working with, communicating with, and teaching people. Those interested in becoming Specialists ought to be comfortable in both making many decisions and following set procedures and routines.

Employers usually seek applicants with good organizational skills as well as strong verbal and written communication skills. They should also be able to work well both independently and as part of a team. Human Resources Specialists ought to be self-motivated, detail-oriented, and flexible.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?


The median wage in 2021 for Human Resources Specialists in California was $73,605 annually, or $35.39 hourly. The median wage for Human Resources Specialists in San Benito and Santa Clara Counties was $88,007 annually, or $42.31 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

Change to Hourly Wages
Annual Wages for 2021Low
(25th percentile)
(50th percentile)
(75th percentile)
San Benito and Santa Clara Counties$66,192$88,007$121,715
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2021 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
View Wages for All Areas


Benefits for Human Resources Specialists often include vacation, sick leave, health and life insurance, profit sharing, and a pension plan. Some may receive reimbursement for continuing education courses.

What is the Job Outlook?

As the economy recovers from the recent economic downturn, the HR Specialist occupation should continue to grow as more and more companies and institutions hope to expand their labor forces. Legislation and court rulings setting standards in various areas—occupational safety and health, equal employment opportunity, wages, health care, pensions, and family leave, among others—may also increase demand for these Specialists.

Projections of Employment

In California, the number of Human Resources Specialists is expected to grow faster than average growth rate for all occupations. Jobs for Human Resources Specialists are expected to increase by 10.4 percent, or 8,000 jobs between 2018 and 2028.

In San Benito and Santa Clara Counties, the number of Human Resources Specialists is expected to grow at an average rate compared with the total for all occupations. Jobs for Human Resources Specialists are expected to increase by 8.6 percent, or 470 jobs between 2018 and 2028.

Estimated Employment and Projected Growth
Human Resources Specialists
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-Projected Year)
Total Job
San Benito and Santa Clara Counties
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
View Projected Growth for All Areas

How Do I Qualify?

Education, Training, and Other Requirements

Most employers typically require that their HR Specialists have a bachelor's degree in human resources, human resources administration, industrial and labor relations, or business. However, some may accept a high school diploma and related work experience. Most prospective HR Specialists should take courses in compensation, recruitment, training and development, and performance appraisal, as well as courses in principles of management, organizational structure, collective bargaining, and industrial psychology.


Prospective HR Specialists may benefit from previous experience in the field, which remains a asset coveted by employers. Many employers prefer entry-level workers who have gained some experience through an internship or work-study program while in school. This field also demands other skills that people may develop elsewhere—using computers, selling, teaching, supervising, and volunteering, among others.

Early Career Planning

High school students interested in becoming HR Specialists should take classes in English, computer science, accounting, psychology, and business. Training programs in areas pertaining to Human Resources Specialists are also available through Regional Occupational Programs (ROP). To find an ROP program near you, go to the California Association of Regional Occupational Centers and Programs Web site at

Continuing Education

HR Specialists need to stay current on the ever-changing labor laws. Moreover, these Specialists, as noted above, find themselves more and more in decision-making positions, so additional education in business and operational strategy as well as finance would be beneficial.


Several professional associations offer certificates related to the HR Specialist occupation, such as the Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certification and the California Certification in Human Resources (CCHR), both offered by the Society for Human Resource Management. The CCHR is designed for those HR Specialists who plan to work in the state and are unfamiliar with California's labor and human resource laws. In general, certification can help demonstrate a level of competence that may enhance job prospects. For more information, go to the U.S. Department of Labor's Career InfoNet Web site and scroll down to "Career Tools." Click on "Certification Finder" and follow the instructions to locate certification programs.

Where Can I Find Training?

There are two ways to search for training information:

Contact the schools you are interested in to learn about the classes available, tuition and fees, and any prerequisite course work.

Where Would I Work?

Virtually every industry employs Human Resources Specialists to one extent or another. Administrative and support services; professional, scientific, and technical services; health care and social assistance; finance and insurance firms; and government comprise the industries that employ the most Human Resources Specialists.

Finding a Job

Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods. Jobs can also be found through newspaper classified advertisements, online job opening systems, social media sites, college career centers, and professional organizations. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at and CalJOBSSM at

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).

Yellow Page Headings

You can focus your local job search by checking employers listed online or in your local telephone directory. Below are some suggested headings where you might find employers of Human Resources Specialists.

  • Employment Agencies
  • Employment Consultants
  • Employment Contractors
  • Government Offices
  • Human Resource Consultants
  • Payroll Services

Find Possible Employers

To locate a list of employers in your area, go to "Find Employers" on the Labor Market Information Web site:

  • Select one of the top industries that employ the occupation. This will give you a list of employers in that industry in your area.
  • Click on "View Filter Selections" to limit your list to specific cities or employer size.
  • Click on an employer for the street address, telephone number, size of business, Web site, etc.
  • Contact the employer for possible employment.

Where Could This Job Lead?

Human Resources Specialists may be promoted to director of human resources or industrial relations, which can eventually lead to a top managerial or executive position. Others may join a consulting or outsourcing firm or open their own business. A Ph.D. is an asset for teaching, writing, or consulting work.

Related Occupations

Below is a list of occupations related to Human Resources Specialists with links to more information.

Appraisers and Assessors of Real EstateProfile
Claims Adjusters, Examiners, and InvestigatorsGuide
Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational CounselorsProfile
Eligibility Interviewers, Government ProgramsProfile
First-Line Supervisors of Housekeeping and Janitorial WorkersProfile
Human Resources Assistants, Except Payroll and TimekeepingProfile
Management AnalystsGuide
Property, Real Estate, and Community Association ManagersGuide

Other Sources

These links are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement by EDD.

For the Career Professional

The following codes are provided to assist counselors, job placement workers, or other career professionals.

SOC - Standard Occupational Classification13-1071
O*NET - Occupational Information Network
   Human Resources Specialists13-1071.00
   Interest Codes (RIASEC)ECS
CIP - Classification of Instructional Programs
   Labor and Industrial Relations 521002
TOP - Taxonomy of Programs (California Community Colleges)
   Labor and Industrial051600