Although the two terms “human resources” and “human services” seem similar, they are completely different from one another. Both have to do with personal interaction, but the former involves the management of personnel in a business while the second involves caring for people in need.
This discipline usually requires a business degree with a specialization in personnel management. The process treats people as inanimate objects that are shuffled around until the needs of the company are met. The HR professional matches people with applicable skill sets to each one of those needs.
The personnel tasked with such “people shuffling” also must deal with any disagreements that arise between employees or between employees and their superiors within the company. HR professionals, therefore, must also be well-acquainted with the applicable local, state, and federal laws. HR professionals are, at the most basic level, employees of the company, too, and it’s their job to make sure the people employed by the company are all on the same page regarding the company’s chief goal: making money.
In the 21st century, the hiring, firing, training, compensating, and managing of employees by HR professionals is supposed to be honorable and positive. As the noted author Skip Freeman states, however, HR professionals really just want to eliminate candidates whom they deem to be unsafe for the company to hire for any one of a number of reasons.
In contrast to HR, human services is about people who are more unfortunate than others. It is not part of a business-oriented culture. Instead, people who are trained in it perform various jobs associated with helping others, such as:
- Social worker
- Probation officer
- Mental health professional
- Personal support worker
- Substance abuse counselor
- School counselor
Other people volunteer at different activities within their communities. Still others go overseas as part of mission trips or as members of the Peace Corps.
HR also requires its practitioners to have a very specific degree or set of degrees. In the world of helping people, however, people can have wildly different training and education. Degrees in psychology, education, social work, and counseling are all good places to begin. Many jobs in the services industry also require master’s degrees.
People in both fields are trained in conflict resolution, but HR professionals seek to resolve conflict within the realm of keeping their parent companies “on track” whereas services professionals strive to mitigate conflict for the sake of both parties.
If someone is adept at working with or managing people, has a flair for devising solutions to knotty problems, and also has a bevy of well-developed leadership skills, then that person would be a good fit for either career path. When it comes to income potential, HR provides much more than services. It all comes down to the fundamental difference between the two disciplines. One is all about the business and focuses on recruiting the right people to generate bigger profits, and the other is all about the people to be helped and is generally associated with not-for-profit entities.
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