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MBA Human Resources: HR Skills, Books, Courses & More

Updated: Jan 28, 2021

After reading posts on Consulting, Marketing and Finance, some blog members expressed their willingness to explore more about MBA in Human Resources and asked for a comprehensive take on the top HR skills, books, courses and other endeavours one can pursue to align one's profile for HR roles in the future.

So, here is a guest post by Nitish Khanna, who comes from an HR background detailing everything you need to know about building a profile for MBA in HR. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn.

MBA in HR Books Courses Skills

In Nitish's Words:


“To win the marketplace, you must first win the workplace.”

These words of the internationally renowned business leader, Doug Conant, will become even more important in the post Covid-19 world. HR professionals will have to lead this change by rethinking and realigning the Talent Management practices of firms, predicting the upcoming changes in the Business Delivery Models and developing capabilities to meet them.

As businesses move to more agile models the responsibility of ensuring that they are able to navigate through these uncertainties and deliver the best for their clients as well as their employees lies with the HR Professionals.

Human Resource Management is a broad field of study which encompasses the below mentioned Career Streams. Please note this is not an exhaustive list.

  • Compensation & Total Rewards

  • Organization Design

  • Talent Acquisition

  • Industrial/Employee Relations

  • Learning and Development

  • HR Business Partner

  • HR Analytics Professionals

  • Human Capital Consultants

HR Skills, Books, Courses

Some of the basic skills or subjects that students interested in HR can focus on are:

1. Organizational Behavior

OB forms the heart of HR. It enables the HR professionals to understand Individual behavior, Team/Group behavior and analyze the complex issues of Organizational Structure, Design and Organizational Change. It helps in bringing about a positive change in an organization.



2. Compensation & Wage Determination

Managerial Compensation and Taxation forms a key responsibility of HRs and understanding the way in which Employees must be rewarded is of prime importance. In most sales driven organizations, it is the Compensation Structures that hold the key to transforming the way in which the firm would perform. You can refer to the following books and courses to begin with understanding Compensation Structures:


  • Compensation’ by McGraw Hill Education authored by George Milkovich and Jerry Newman


3. Industrial Relations & Labour Law

The foundations of modern Human Resource Management lie in Industrial Relations. In India, as well as in the world the best Industrial practices slowly gave way to the development of sophisticated HR systems. Industrial relations deal with the complex inter relations between Employer, Employees, State and Labour Unions. Hence it is extremely essential for an HR Manager to be well versed with the Labour Laws.


The first book primarily gives a gist of the labour laws in India and the second book gives a more detailed case based view of the labour law and helps you read between the lines and interpret the law.

MBA Human Resources Skills Books

4. Recruitment & Talent Acquisition

Talent Acquisition encompasses aligning the recruitment strategy with the company’s goals, sourcing the best talent, identifying the right candidate for the right job and finally ensuring a seamless on-boarding experience for the employees.

With Virtual On-boarding and Work from Home (WFH) set to become a trend across the world, Talent Acquisition is an essential skill for HR Professionals.


5. Performance Management

Performance Management is one of the core areas of HRM. Designing and implementing an efficient Performance Management System is extremely essential for any organization. What is more important however, is analyzing its effectiveness and identifying if the Performance Management System is able to accomplish the desired objectives or not. This subject focuses on creating a positive performance culture in an organization.



6. Learning and Development

Organisational learning needs require HR professionals to be capable of creating, implementing, monitoring and measuring the effectiveness of Learning and Development strategies. Every organisation has a unique culture of learning and L&D plans need to be in line with the culture.

With Digital & E-Learning becoming increasingly important in the post Covid-19 world, it becomes imperative that an HR professional is well versed with L&D concepts.



7. International Human Resource Management

The 21st century has witnessed a transformation in organization’s business models which have become truly global. This gives an amazing opportunity to HRs to identify ways to effectively lead the complexity of global workforce and understand various cultural landscapes and adapt the organizational strategy accordingly. International Human Resource Management primarily focuses on this facet of HRM.


A few other subjects which are mostly taught as electives in B-Schools like Managerial Competencies and Career Development, HR Analytics, HR Issues in Mergers and Acquisitions, Contract Law, Managing Diversity can be taken up as well but at a later stage.

For HR Analytics, ‘People Analytics’ course by The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania on Coursera is also a good introductory course to understand HR applications of Analytics.

Professional Certifications

There are many professional certification institutes specializing and accrediting HR professionals. The most popular ones however are the US based Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and UK based Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).


Established in 1948, SHRM has over 300,000 active members. SHRM promotes the role of HR as a profession and provides education, certification, and networking to its members, while lobbying with US congress on issues pertinent to labor management.

There are two primary certifications available for HR professionals SHRM-CP (Certified professional) and SHRM-SCP (Senior certified professional) based on one’s experience in the field.


Founded in 1913, CIPD has over 150,000 members internationally working across private, public and voluntary sectors. CIPD has foundation, intermediate and advanced level certifications available which are internationally recognizable.


Harvard Business Review Articles are the best source of upcoming research in the field of HR. Apart from HBR, ‘Economic Times HR World’ will provide you an update on the recent happenings in HR in India and the world. You can also follow Global HR News on SHRM and CIPD news portals:

I would recommend you all to follow CHROs and CEOs on LinkedIn and keep yourselves abreast with the upcoming trends in People practices in the Corporate World.

A Note About Myself

An HR Enthusiast, History Buff, Traveler and a Passionate Singer.

I have completed my MBA from XLRI Jamshedpur and was awarded a Pre-Placement Offer (PPO) while interning with Mondelēz International where I will be joining as an HR Manager. I have received training in Indian Classical Music from Gandharva Mahavidyalaya & have pursued my passion for singing by qualifying and performing at the National Finals of Hero Honda 'Surtarang' and as the Lead Vocalist of 'The Bodhi Tree' (Official Band of XLRI).

I have had the opportunity of interning and working with the FMCG sector, Petroleum Industry, Electronic Design Automation Industry and Information Technology industry. These experiences have helped me in understanding the intricacies of Human Resource Management Systems and their impact on the business of the organization.


So, this was a comprehensive post on building a profile for MBA in HR by Nitish Khanna to whom I am really grateful for taking out the time to pen down his valuable thoughts and insights. I'm sure that a lot of blog members will get benefited from this repository of information shared by Nitish.

If you are an MBA enthusiast preparing for B-school interviews, you must read the latest post on how to improve your profile during this lockdown period to enhance your skill-set.

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