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4 Most Critical HR Competencies You Must Possess


21 October 2022

4 min read

What are the critical HR competencies you need to succeed?

What are the practical skills an HR professional must possess to support organizational evolution?

In this article, we discuss the four core competencies that make HR professionals great at their job.

Core HR Competencies

Here are the four core competencies every HR professional must have in our day and age:

Data driven

Being data-driven is about making use of data and having the ability to translate that data into actionable information that leads to meaningful decisions and positive outcomes.

Business acumen

When you have good business acumen, you’re able to understand and translate your company’s goals & objectives into policies and activities that improve business growth and culture.

Digital integration

Digital integration is about having the ability to leverage digital platforms and technologies to improve operational efficiency and drive business growth.

People’s advocate

You have the ability to communicate effectively with others, bring out the best in them, become someone your employees can trust, and build a strong company culture.

Let’s discuss each competency in detail.

Data driven

The first competency is to be data-driven. being data-driven can be further categorized into two subskills: being data literate and being able to translate data into actionable insights

Data literacy

Data literacy is the ability to read, understand and communicate data clearly.

Analytics translation

Analytics translation is the ability to translate metrics & data into meaningful insights, actions, and strategies that lead to positive outcomes.

Here are the behaviors of a data-driven HR professional:

Read data

Access data dashboards and analyze data to set targets and guide daily operations.

Apply data

Turn the data into easily understandable and actionable information that is useful.

Create data

Create KPI-driven activities and strategies to increase both personal and stakeholder effectiveness.

Communicate data

Communicate how you contribute to business results and growth using data.

Business acumen

Business acumen refers to the ability to understand your business goals and mission and create activities and strategies that align with these goals and objectives.

Here are the skills to develop to have good business acumen:

Context interpretation

Understand the business context and organizational dynamics.

Customer orientation

Understand the customer and create policies that help serve these customers.

Strategy co-creation

Involves oneself in the co-creation of the overall business strategy.

Here are the behaviors of an HR professional with good business acumen:

External customer alignment

Deeply understands the end customer’s needs and preferences and conducts activities to better serve the end customer.

Internal customer alignment

Effectively markets HR to both internal and external stakeholders.

Gathering information

Continuously gathers information regarding the organizational needs and the entire stakeholder ecosystem.

Customer-driven practices

Has a deep understanding of design thinking & lean principles and optimizes different business processes and customer experiences when appropriate.

Digital integration

Digital integration is the ability to use technology to enable business progress and improve HR value. there are tHRee dimensions to digital integration:

Technological awareness

Deeply understands the digital landscape and the role technology plays in enabling business progress and growth.

Technology embedding

Be able to successfully integrate technology to improve business strategy and performance

Digital culture building

Build digital skills in the workforce and enable a tech-first culture to optimize and improve employee experience and performance.

Here are the behaviors of an HR professional who is successful with data integration:

Digital understanding

Understand the digital landscape and how it contributes to long-term, sustainable growth.

Digital fostering

Actively participates in digital upskilling activities and contributes to organization-wide digital initiatives in a strategic and meaningful way.

Digital leadership

Has a deep understanding of how technology has evolved within the HR industry and promotes digital values across the organization.

Learning champion

You’re involved in improving digital learning and implementing HR practices that support digital learning and innovation. 

People’s advocate

An HR professional, who’s a people’s advocate, is involved in culture building and communicating in a way that builds meaningful relationships and creates impact.

Workplace champion

A credible and trusted figurehead who advocates for the overlooked.

Culture building

Works to continuously optimize and build the desired culture.

Communications expert

A highly effective communicator who conveys their message thoroughly and is receptive to others’ input.

Here are the behaviors associated with an HR professional who’s the people’s advocate:


Has a reputation for being highly credible among her colleagues, peers, subordinates, and superiors.


Has a reputation for being highly trustworthy among her colleagues, peers, subordinates, and superiors. someone who builds trust in all the activities they’re a part of.


Has a reputation for acting or behaving in a transparent and ethical way, amongst colleagues, peers, subordinates, and superiors


Actively acquires new knowledge and keeps herself up-to-date regarding important topics such as labor and privacy regulations.


Practices HR in a way that is compliant with local regulations and errs on the side of caution.According to the Acvian data, a business must stand within the local statutory for its permanent growth.

Paradox navigator

Balances individual and organizational interests, and advocates the interests of overlooked individuals and groups.

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Final thoughts

As an HR professional, you handle diverse duties such as participating as the organization’s advocate, building employee relations, developing business strategies, and, more importantly, bringing mediation between the employees and the employers.

Acquiring the core competencies and skills listed in this article will help you keep your A-game on. We hope this article gave you the necessary insights into key HR competencies and skills that will help you stay ahead and create more value for your organization and its customers.

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Have you got any questions on HR competencies and skills? What skills have helped you effectively carry out your job as an HR professional? Got any interesting tips or hacks for HR professionals looking to acquire new skills? Let us know in the comment section below.

If you’re wondering whether SurveySparrow is the right fit for you and would rather have someone walk you tHRough our platform, reach out to us for a free, personalized demo!


I'm a developer turned marketer, working as a Product Marketer at SurveySparrow — A survey tool that lets anyone create beautiful, conversational surveys people love to answer.


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