Human resources is the term for a range of practices that inform the way an organization attracts, hires, trains and retains staff, deals with grievances, offers benefits and compensations, adhere to labor laws, and much more. There are many roles within HR: talent management helps refine and implement human resources policy and optimize communication between employees and management. Recruitment can take place from within an organization, or as the main function of a third-party staffing or recruitment agency. The difference between the two is that a staffing agency finds specialized candidates, often temporary or working on contract, while recruitment agencies help fill long-term, full-time positions. Some firms do both.
Working in this industry requires a range of soft skills along with a firm grasp of business fundamentals and, increasingly, technological skills. Below, we’ll explore what a remote HR internship would be like, how to get one, and what type of settings you would be working in. We’ll go over the skills and personality traits it takes to succeed, look at recent postings, and consider what the future holds, whether or not you choose to stay on this path.
What will I be Doing as an Intern?
As a remote HR intern, you’ll help with the essential and deceptively simple task of matching people and jobs. You might be asked to assist with checking qualifications, introducing new hires to a workflow, or ensuring HR compliance with labor laws. Here are some of the things you might be doing as a remote intern in HR, talent management, and recruitment.
A remote HR intern could help update a company database with new employee information, screen resumes to find suitable matches for openings, manage postings to job boards, research market salary information, prepare and send offer and rejection letters, coordinate new hire orientations, plan events, and respond to staff questions about HR department policy, such as benefits and other matters. Employers may prefer candidates who have undergraduate training in human resources management or a related field and previous office experience, and are familiar with HRIS (Human Resources Information System). Strong analytical, administrative, and communication skills are also desirable.
Remote talent management interns, working within an organization’s HR framework, could be asked to help onboard and offboard incoming and outgoing employees, conduct exit interviews, keep track of staff to gauge productivity and engagement, manage employee database information, liaise between departments, and contribute ideas for performance management. Employers may prefer candidates studying for an M.A in subjects such as Human Resources, Business, Management, or I/O (industrial-organizational) psychology.
Remote recruitment interns, for example working in a staffing or recruitment firm, might help build an applicant pool by reaching out to community groups, educational institutions, and social media groups, identify other potential resources, create job ads based on job descriptions and qualifications, contribute to branding and marketing, and monitor ads to ensure that they reach the right audience. Required qualifications may include relevant college or university training, great customer service skills, and proficiency in Microsoft Office.
Is this Industry Right for Me?
HR is a good place for people with a sincere interest in both business and the factors that affect human behavior. You also need to understand an organization’s budget, how to allocate resources when it comes to hiring practices, and how to help people work together toward a common goal. In addition, it helps if you’re not one to avoid a scene of conflict: The HR department typically has to handle difficult situations such as reports of discrimination, harassment, and disciplinary issues all whileremaining unbiased. It’s important to be approachable, trustworthy, and willing to take on the responsibility of having an impact on people.
A remote internship in this vertical is a great way for college students and recent graduates to initiate a career. If you believe you have the qualities it takes to do a good job, a remote HR internship is your chance to either confirm it, or start to think about an alternative, should things prove that your skills would be better put to use elsewhere.
How do I get one?
A remote HR internship or entry-level job is the best way to learn HR from the ground up: “You have to be flexible and you have to be ready to start at the bottom, because that’s how you’re going to understand all of the pieces, and HR has a lot of moving pieces.” Other things you can do as you embark on your search include finding an SHRM student chapter to access information and opportunities, and looking into HR service providers to learn more about the industry.
Some remote HR internships do not require a specific degree to apply, although undergraduate studies are usually a baseline prerequisite. You can study human resources as its own subject, or combine business, psychology, industrial-organizational (I/O) psychology, and/or sociology, to strike a balance between business knowledge and interpersonal skills. Corporate law is another path toward a high degree of effectiveness in an HR capacity, as HR policies must always be aligned with both current labor legislation and laws that pertain to commerce.
Organizations like the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the HR Certification Institute offer professional HR certification which may be beneficial for you to familiarize yourself with. Both organizations are descended from the former American Society of Personnel Administration and took form as HR became recognized as a profession in the 1970s. Certification can help you learn valuable HR skills such as risk management, workforce analytics, operations, employee relations, recruitment and selection, development and retention, and more.
Your Cover Letter and Resume
It’s important to communicate enthusiasm for the role you want and to back up your application with evidence to support your claim that you would be good at it. Use your cover letter to describe how your training and experience, whether as an intern, student, employee, volunteer, or in any other capacity, gave you the skills or capabilities to fulfill your duties as a remote HR intern. Try to emphasize leadership roles, organizing activities, any experience of helping to resolve conflict, and specific HR, business, psychology or corporate law courses. Resumes should include roles and courses you could discuss in an interview, if asked to elaborate. Cover letters should focus on the things most relevant to the remote internship
You can look for sample remote HR internship cover letters and resumes to get an idea of how to present yourself, but make sure to stay true to your own personality and background. Not all remote HR internship applications require cover letters, but virtually all require a resume. Consider emphasizing skills related to the following subjects:
Business Analysis and Understanding
Understanding the business industry you are working for is vitally important to be able to hire the correct person for the open position.
Knowing how to effectively communicate people from the executive level to entry-level hires is very important. You will need to also be able to conduct interviews, give presentations and interpret reports.
Show your familiarity with or interest in concepts such as safety and inclusivity in the workplace, performance management, career development, ethics, leadership, or any other area in which you can demonstrate learning or expertise.
Look for key terms and phrases in the job description and among other materials related to the organization you’re applying to, such as corporate websites and social media. Use the same language in your application materials to increase the odds of being selected by the ATS (applicant tracking system). Favor remote HR internships that match well with your experience and personality.
Where to look?
Remote HR internship postings can be found through CareerUp, trusted job sites such as Indeed and LinkedIn, and through your educational institution’s career centre. You could try checking with career centers at schools you do not attend, as some postings are open to the public. Many organizations across all sectors of the economy have HR departments, so keep an open mind as you search. If a company or organization interests you but indicates no openings, a respectful email of inquiry may lead to an opportunity. There may be remote internships available with recruiting firms such as those mentioned, which place Korn Ferry at the top for executive recruiting, and Robert Half at number one for professional recruiting. Check out the job boards on SHRM.
The following job descriptions for remote HR internships were taken from U.S. job boards in November 2020:
Human Resources Intern
Company description: A non-profit that provides career planning, employment guidance, housing assistance, therapy and other forms of support for people with disabilities.
- Help coordinate launch of new Human Resources Information System
- Create training needs assessments and job guides for hiring and onboarding process
- Conduct HRIS virtual training for staff
- Process orientation and onboarding paperwork and background checks
- Evaluate processes and help with compliance audits (benefits, new hire/exit surveys)
- Undergraduate or graduate studies (partial or completed)
- Skills or previous experience in organizational development, non-profit management, human resources or adult education
- Passion for HR and/or working in non-profit administration
- Strong attention to detail and organizational skills
- Able to work on multiple projects at once
HR Talent Management Intern
Company description: A global, end-to-end, digital supply chain platform provider that helps businesses perfect ecommerce capability, analyze data, and optimize operations.
- Help talent management and talent acquisition team with workforce planning, automated reporting, talent branding and other activities
- Provide additional support as needed for talent management team projects
- Develop and maintain process and procedure documentation
- Develop reporting templates
- Help with new graduate program activities and engagement
- Current undergraduate study in human resources, MIS (management information systems), marketing, business or related field
- Proficient in MS Office (Outlook, Excel, PowerPoint, Word)
- Able to meet deadlines and work on multiple projects at once
- Organized, detail-oriented, and capable of managing confidential information
- Self-disciplined, independent worker who takes initiative
Sourcing Recruiter Internship
Company description: A large e-commerce and entertainment platform.
- Work with business partners and hiring managers on collaborative, full-cycle recruitment process, including innovative sourcing strategies
- Manage pipeline activity reporting, apply Boolean operators to candidate searches and analyze data to determine target profile needs
- Help improve strategies for talent pooling, market mapping, and competitor analysis
- Current undergraduate studies
- Able to think and act strategically and tactically
- Strong organizational skills, including prioritization and time management
- Able to summarize and communicate data effectively
- Strong interpersonal, written and verbal skills
What Happens after my Remote HR Internship?
In general, the SHRM recommends an internship while still in school, with university-level HR studies being the best way into the profession. Traditionally, HR may be described as having two main career paths: generalist and specialist.
This path encompasses many roles, including finding an organization’s staff and employees, managing training and development, planning the organization’s future HR needs, and making sure HR policy is in line with current labor laws. A generalist needs to be interested in leadership and capable of a certain amount of vision. Job titles include people services specialist, chief HR officer, and director of the HR department.
The need for specialists usually arises in large organizations. Roles in this area include:
A specialist in this area performs tasks related to the overall process of identifying, attracting, screening, shortlisting, and interviewing, suitable candidates for jobs within an organization. Job titles include chief talent manager, recruiter, and staffing specialist.
Remote interns and entry-level workers often become training or onboarding specialists, helping to train new and existing employees, maintain records, ensure participation, and evaluate the training’s outcome. Organizational development, career planning, and expertise in specific fields such as sales techniques and safety programs can also factor into the role. Job titles include specialty area trainer, organizational development specialist, and leadership development specialist.
This area deals with the range of compensations and benefits an organization uses to attract and retain staff and employees. Data analysis is important for this role, which involves continuously evaluating jobs, compensations, and benefit programs. When their tasks are outsourced, total rewards professionals monitor the vendors who perform the work. Job titles include compensation and administrative services specialist, benefits analyst, and compensation manager.
Employee and Labor Relations
When working with unions, specialists in this field help negotiate collective agreements, interpret contracts, and address conflict. In a non-unionized workplace, employee relations specialists may perform generalist duties, design and implement employee involvement and engagement programs, and handle employee grievances. Job titles include performance management specialist, employee advocate, and manager of labor relations.
Professionals in this area deal with occupational health and safety, making sure workers are sufficiently protected from physical harm. Tasks may include conducting safety inspections, maintaining accident records, and ensuring compliance with legal obligations. Security specialists work to protect an organization’s material assets, property and confidential information. Also working in this function are medical program administrators and employee assistance counsellors. Job titles include safety officer, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) manager, and risk management specialist.
There exist many other HR roles and functions that fit under both rubrics or neither, such as academic and research activities, HRIS specialists, and more. Many professionals move between roles over the course of their careers. Some people move to HR after working in other aspects of business. A dynamic and varied field, HR has much to offer.
Future HR Roles
HR is evolving rapidly and new types of roles are being created everyday!
Individual and organizational resilience
Roles in this function will focus on wellbeing. Resilience-oriented strategies for employee retention will make room for workers’ emotional, mental and spiritual needs. Companies are already hiring for roles such as Director of Wellbeing. In addition, Work from Home Facilitators are becoming relevant, as HR professionals strive to keep remote workers feeling motivated and important to the team.
Organizational trust and safety
As concern for data privacy increases, a role such as Human Bias Officer could help protect people’s confidentiality and dignity as their information is collected and hold organizations accountable from the onboarding stage to the exit interview. In times of disruption such as a pandemic, a Strategic HR Business Continuity Director would help design a preparedness plan to ensure, as one CHRO put it, “a phased, safe global approach to returning to the workplace.”
Creativity and innovation
Combining corporate strategy with HR principles, a Future of Work Leader would identify the skills most essential to the organization’s development and make a plan for reskilling and upskilling employees based on data from higher education, industry associations and market research. A VR Immersion Counsellor would help implement the plan and leverage virtual reality as a training method.
Just as other departments such as finance and sales use analytics to help them improve, HR is also starting to analyze data to evaluate metrics such as team performance and levels of engagement among employees and management. An HR Data Detective could synthesize information from HRIS and other internal sources, and such expertise could lead to another emerging HR role: Head of Business Behavior.
Chatbots are becoming increasingly adept at responding to inquiries on websites. A Human-Machine Teaming Manager could partner up with a ChatBot Coach to design an AI-powered candidate experience that would screen applicants and answer common questions, freeing up human recruiters for other tasks.
ZipRecruiter puts the national average entry-level annual salary for an HR generalist at $43,716. Major urban centers tend to have higher average baseline salaries. The size of the organization and financial capacity of your employer also affect the amount you are paid. According to Indeed, the average annual salary for a Human Resources Generalist is $58,802, and for a Human Resources Specialist, $47,925. At the managerial level, according to Glassdoor, HR managers can expect to earn an average of $78,377, while an HR director may earn $98,274.
What Happens if it Isn’t for Me?
It’s possible that after completing your remote HR internship or even after working in HR for years, you’ll decide to move on. If so, you’ll find yourself equipped to reposition yourself thanks to your unique combination of abilities in communication, business, and strategic planning. Transferable HR skills include insight and analytical skills, brand management, leadership, problem solving, technical skills, and business knowledge. These would look great on any resume and could help you find a new path. Try to figure out precisely where your talents and interests lie by reflecting on your experience and training. Seek advice from peers, mentors, and people you trust, or even just ask yourself what a good friend would tell you. Was it working with people you liked the most, researching and analyzing data, or maybe some aspect of HR technology? In an increasingly complex employment landscape, it may take more than a remote internship or two to figure out what’s best for you. Sometimes the only way to find out is to try.