According to the Maine Center for Workforce Research and Information, the state’s unemployment rate has progressively declined every year since 2009 to 4.7% as of April 2015, the lowest it has been since 2008. A significant reason for this positive trend has been the presence of several large companies headquartered in the state, which contribute significantly to growing Maine’s workforce.
Maine’s top employers are spread across a variety of industries, ranging from banking to shipbuilding, but they are all similarly reliant on strong internal human resource departments to recruit, screen, hire, train and manage benefits for a growing number of employees.
The diversity of these companies requires a workforce with a wide range of educational backgrounds and skills, requiring internal HR departments and staffing firms to effectively attract and recruit new talent. Some of Maine’s largest employers include:
- Hannaford Brothers Company, which employs approximately 8,500
- Bath Iron Works Corporation, which employs approximately 5,500
- L. Bean, which employs approximately 5,000
- TD Banknorth, which employs approximately 3,500
- Unum, which employs approximately 3,500
- Idexx Laboratories, which employs approximately 1,500
Qualifying for a Career in HR Management or Another Key Area of Specialization
The preferred educational qualifications listed on recent job announcements demonstrates the value of education for those aspiring to enter the field, and for those already in the field aspiring to more advanced positions within their HR department (from a survey of job vacancies taken in May 2015, shown for illustrative purposes only):
Human Resource Generalist, Paychex Inc – An associate’s or bachelor’s degree is preferred. Successful completion of PHRS training program is required.
Director of Human Resources, Franklin Memorial Hospital – PHR or SPHR is preferred (both require a master’s degree).
Director of Compensation, Delhaize America – A bachelor’s degree is required, while a master’s degree is preferred.
Human Resources Manager, Lowe’s – Education requirements include a bachelor’s degree in human resources, psychology, business, communication, or a related field.
Bachelor’s Degree Programs
Employers often require job candidates for generalist, specialist and lower-to-mid-level management jobs to possess a bachelor’s degree in human resources at minimum. These degrees, designed as a Bachelor of Science (BS), a Bachelor of Arts (BA), or a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA), prepare students in the following areas:
- Management for Organizations
- Business Law
- Employee & Labor Relations
- Personal Dimensions of Education
- Recruiting and Staffing
Examples of bachelor’s degrees required for key HR positions include:
- Management Human Resource Degree-Bachelor of Science
- Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a Human Resources concentration
- Bachelor of Business Administration in Human Resource Management
- Bachelor of Arts in Management with a Human Resources Concentration
- Bachelor of Arts in Human Resource Management
Master’s Degree Programs
HR graduate programs accept students with undergraduate degrees in a variety of majors so long as they have completed prerequisite courses. Some schools have strict additional requirements, including at least a 3.0 undergraduate GPA and strong scores on the GMAT exam.
Some of the most common master’s degrees related to human resources include:
- Master of Arts in Management with a Human Resources concentration
- Master of Arts in Human Resource Management and Industrial Relations
- Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a Human Resources Concentration
- Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
- Master of Science in Human Resources
- Master of Science in Organizational Leadership with a specialization in Human Resource Management
The skills learned in master’s degree programs prepare students for the most advanced challenges associated with human resources work. These skills are obtained in courses such as:
- Organizational Development
- Employee and Labor Relations
- Compensation and Benefits
- Research Methods
- Finance for HR Leaders
- Performance Management
- Legal Issues and Human Resources
Professional Certification Programs
Some employers prefer that their HR department heads obtain certification in addition to formal education. Examples of certification options include:
- HR Certification Institute (HRCI)
- Professional in Human Resources (PHR)
- Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR)
- Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR)
- Human Resource Management Professional (HRMP)
- Human Resource Business Professional (HRBP)
- California Certification for PHR and SPHR certified professionals
- Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM)
- SHRM-CP (certified professional)
- SHRM-SCP (senior certified professional)
Human Resources Careers with Some of Maine’s Major Employers
The Maine Department of Labor has stated the importance of fostering an environment that will entice higher rates of in-migration. To lure talented professionals to Maine-based companies, HR professionals are responsible for:
- Seeking talented staff through various employment channels
- Developing salaries and benefits packages that entice talented workers
- Working with various company departments to achieve company growth
- Resolving workplace disputes
- Implementing proper communication strategies within the company
- Implementing strategies that effectively couple workers’ diverse talents
In addition to shorter-term tasks like recruiting new employees, human resources professionals perform a variety of daily duties related to workplace development and retention. The following job descriptions give a detailed look at the daily work of some of Maine’s human resource professionals (from a survey of job vacancies taken in May 2015, shown for illustrative purposes only):
Human Resource Specialist, Bates College – The specialist will ensure employee records are kept up-to-date, maintain the department website, and offer recommendations on improving departmental efficiency.
Human Resources Representative, GrafTech International Ltd – Job duties include overseeing employment pre- and post-screening, overseeing worker’s compensation claims, and organizing community programs and family activities.
Human Resources Generalist, Woodard & Curran – Job duties include helping staff with issues related to professional development, ensuring company compliance with state and federal laws, and acting as a liaison between organizational teams and project sites.
Maine’s Human Resources Staffing Companies and Professional Associations
Maine is home to state and municipal-level government human resources departments, professional HR associations, and staffing companies, all of which can serve as a resource:
- Human Resources Association of Southern Maine
- Central Maine Human Resource Association
- Human Resources Association of Eastern Maine
- Seacoast Human Resources Association
- Maine Local Government Human Resources Association
Staffing Companies and Firms
- Human Resource Consulting – Maine Staffing Group
- Capital Area Staffing Solutions
- Maine Staffing Group
- Manpower Maine