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HR Jobs >> HR Articles >> HR Career Feature >> How to Become a Labor Relations Specialist
  • HR Career Feature

How to Become a Labor Relations Specialist


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The relationships between employees and employers have always been a delicate thing to manage. This became even more apparent with the introduction of organized employment unions, which then had enough clout to stand on more-or-less equal footing when it came to policy making with the company heads. In order to keep both sides happy, or at least content, with their arrangements, personnel who specialize in maintaining the balance were required. Thus, the position of Labor Relations Specialist was created.

If nothing else, the Labor Relations Specialist is a diplomat, who negotiates between two factions frequently in disagreement. They have to keep the two sides in communication while continuing to establish rapport with both sides. They also have to keep the interests of the entire company in mind, which means controlling interaction between factions in the company. The role of the Labor Relations specialist is as sensitive as a tightrope-walking act, and so he or she needs all the preparation and help possible.

Equipment and Education

Few other professions have had so much debate about the requirements, probably because of the many factors involved in employment relations. Some believe that a graduate or master’s degree in law or business administration is the best thing to start with. Another camp says that undergraduate degree in human resources, labor economics, industrial psychology, sociology, or personal relations are better and more economical. Yet others prefer the apprenticeship model, where a prospective specialist sits in at policy and negotiation meetings and observes the proceedings to gain insight and knowledge. Any of the above is acceptable for a labor relations specialist. Additionally, if you work in specialized fields, undergraduate degrees in related studies may be sought. For example, when working as a labor relations specialist in the field of healthcare, an undergraduate degree in nursing is a plus.

The ability to speak to large groups of people is a required skill. As a labor relations specialist you will find yourself not only speaking with representatives, but addressing entire rooms full of people, both laborers and company heads alike. As such, the skill of public speaking needs training. Taking a class can help those who are less confident of their skill in this.

Debate skills are not only beneficial, they are critical. Often, you will find yourself needing to expand and defend your statements, as well as analyze the words of others and rebuff or riposte their attacks. All this happens on-the-go, so you will need to be on your toes all the time. Joining a debate team even as far back as high school will give you mastery over the art of debate.

Get an entry-level job in the field you intend to work in. The time you spend working not only improves your knowledge of the workings of the labor community, but also increases your credibility as a representative for both employees and employers. The position of labor relations specialist requires several years of experience in the field, which makes sense since the job requires knowledge of all sides in the business.

Acquiring a certificate to practice as a labor relations specialist is mandatory. This ensures that you are prepared for the task and informs others of your skill. You will need to perform the previous steps prior to this, so this should be the last step before getting into the actual career. This can be done by enrolling in the Labor Relations Professional Certification Program or a similar program. Completion of such will demonstrate to your employer your dedication and competency for the job.

People and Agreements

You will need to form good relations with the labor groups or unions if there are any, and also with the company heads and policymakers. These are the two sides you will often be interacting with, and you need to know the important people on both sides. Since the labor relations specialist can be a lodestone for discontent and laborers and company heads alike may direct their dissatisfaction at and through him or her, he or she will need steadfast rapports.

Keeping up with the trends in employment labor relationships will help you identify useful ideas and successful strategies. This can be done by subscribing and reading industry-specific magazines, business-related news, and government reports on wage and labor information. Things like which benefits and benefit packages being offered are the most popular, what are the average wages, working conditions, and innovations in that respect are just some of what you could pick up from reading this periodic literature.

Learn to interpret contracts. Contracts are often complicated pieces, but they are legally binding and should be dealt with using utmost care and diligence. Legal language may find its way into contracts, so you should be prepared to deal with it. Contract terminologies are discussed in specialized classes for legal contracts, so find such a course that is convenient for you and take it.

Finally, you need to stay strong as an individual. Remember that you are a diplomat negotiating between two groups often at loggerheads with each other. Being steadfast will allow you to keep your calm, to take in the situation, and to be aware of subtle changes in the employment and labor environment so you can perform your duties as best as you can.


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