What Are the Best HR Books for Beginners? [+Advanced Books]

what are the best hr books for beginners?

There are many ways to get into the human resources (HR) field. You can take courses, read online blogs, listen to HR podcasts, and read HR books.

The HR field is a broad one. From recruitment and selection to compensation and benefits to organization development (OD) to people management, and training and development.

So, whether you’re curious about the HR field, want to learn more about dealing with people, or simply want to learn the basics of HR, this list of HR books for beginners will put you on the right track.

In this article, we’ll also highlight some advanced HR-related books, in case you want to level up or explore other fields.

It’s worth mentioning that some books may not 100% be HR-related but about people management and psychology, giving you insights into skills and ideas that you can use as an HR professional.


Benefits of reading HR books

We live in a fast-paced world. There’s no doubt about that. But books still hold great value regardless of the discipline you’re in.

You may choose to explore book summaries, but books, full-length books, still hold lots of information and open new worlds.

As non-fiction books, HR books offer insights and you can highlight paragraphs, tips, quotes,…etc. In addition, many non-fiction and HR books come with tables, diagrams, and graphs to help readers visualize ideas and examples.

Similarly, storytelling featuring use cases helps readers see examples from businesses from a wide spectrum from around the world.

Some HR books are generic, as you’ll see in the next section, while others are personal experiences from CEOs and HR managers.

By reading HR books you can get a clearer picture of human behavior, others’ experiences in handling various situations, including critical ones.

Of course, it’s important that when you read any non-fiction or HR book, you see what can work for you and your company’s culture and what won’t.

In the following sections, we’ll look at HR books for beginners in the HR field and then we’ll explore more diverse books for advanced HR professionals and others who are interested in human interaction.


Best HR books for beginners

Now, let’s look at the top HR books for beginners. These books are the HR essentials people who are interested in exploring the HR field or plan to become HR professionals, or both should read.

These books will also give you an idea about the roles and responsibilities of an HR professional and what HR jobs can look like.

The Essential HR Handbook: A Quick and Handy Resource for Any Manager or HR Professional by Sharon Armstrong and Barbara Mitchell  

As its name suggests, The Essential HR Handbook is one of the most important HR books for beginners and experienced professionals alike.

The Essential HR Handbook is the go-to book on human resources and all that the field entails. It helps everyone from beginners to career-switchers to business owners with no HR department to seasoned HR managers and professionals.

Readers of The Essential HR Handbook will get a close look at how to

  • attract talented candidates during the recruitment process
  • use social media recruiting to attract talents
  • offer training and development to a “multigenerational workforce”
  • identify employment-related legal pitfalls
  • create a compensation and benefits strategy that includes packages making you the “employer of choice,” boosts retention, and reduces employee turnover.
  • Create and improve onboarding and orientation processes in your organization.

The latest version of The Essential HR Handbook by Sharon Armstrong and Barbara Mitchell is the 10th edition. This version comes with checklists, tools, tips, and more to guide readers through the human resources maze.


Armstrong’s Handbook of Human Resource Management Practice: A Guide to the Theory and Practice of People Management by Michael Armstrong with Stephen Taylor

Another important HR book for beginners and those interested in the HR field is the Practice of People Management. That’s because this book offers readers a complete understanding of all HR functions and introduces the topic of human resource management (HRM).

The book covers everything from employee relations to performance management to training and development and KPIs, among others. It also covers topics such as the top HR skills needed for professional success, how to manage conflicts, conducting interviews, such as structured and unstructured interviews,…etc.

The book uses case studies from global organizations along with illustrations and graphs to help readers understand the content better.

The latest edition of Practice of People Management is the 15th edition.


Human Resources Management by Gary Dessler

One of the most important HR books for beginners and seasoned professionals alike is Dessler’s Human Resources Management. The Academy to Innovate HR (AIHR) describes it as an “HR bible.”

This 700-page, 18-chapter book is one of the most frequently-read books in the HR field.

In his book, Dessler explores the various aspects that make up the HR field, offering tips and practical advice all the way. Dessler focuses on the 5 HR cornerstones, namely recruitment, training and development, compensation and benefits, talent management, and employee relations.


The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You by Julie Zhuo

Congratulations! You’ve moved up the career ladder and you’re officially a manager. Now what?!

Many employees suddenly find themselves in a managerial position, with no idea how to handle the obligations of a new role and a group of people.

That’s where The Making of a Manager is about. In this book, Julie Zhuo talks about her experience becoming a manager at 25 with no clue what to do. But now, several years later, she’s managed dozens of teams and hundreds of employees. In the book, Zhuo talks about her biggest lesson, which is the best managers are made, not born.

The Making of a Manager tackles several topics with expert tips. Topics include:

  • how tell if a manager is great or average
  • when to overlook awkward interviews but still hire the person
  • how to build trust with team members and be a leader


Effective Hiring by Paul Falcone 

Recruitment remains one of the biggest and most common challenges in HR. The recruitment cycle and process are long for hiring managers and candidates alike.

Assuming you’ve found the candidate who will join your organization. You need to constantly engage and work on retaining them. Not to mention, provide them with onboarding and training to get them up to speed.

In Effective Hiring, Paul Falcone tackles the challenges of the employee life cycle and shows readers how to handle them. From creating effective job descriptions to attracting talents to conducting an effective interviewing process with insight-gathering questions to decision-making, Effective Hiring covers all of that and more.

Falcone is the author of another book on interviewing and hiring called 101 Tough Conversations to Have with Your Employees.


More best books about HR

Now let’s explore advanced HR books covering a wider array of topics that HR professionals will benefit from reading.

Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World by Marcus Buckingham, Ashley Goodall and Marcus Buckingham

Goodall’s and Buckingham’s Nine Lies About Work is tackles the 9 main common sayings and myths in the HR field. Statements like ‘the best plan wins,’ ‘work-life balance matters most,’ ‘leadership is a thing,’ among others.

This book looks at the varying so-called business and HR statements and mottos that are negatively impacting work environments and hurting teams, rather than building them up.


Built for People: Transform Your Employee Experience Using Product Management Principles by Jessica Zwaan 

This book isn’t for beginners. It looks at the elements of product management and applies them to HR principles, particularly employee experience. Built for People aims to transform workforce management, and accordingly business performance, through a people-centered approach.

Using a human- and customer-centered approach improves business results across operations, marketing, sales,…etc. Built for People uses a similar approach but with a focus on a company’s internal workforce.

The book explains what a product management approach is, how it works, and why it works. It goes into detail about how to use this approach to develop the employee experience to attract, retain, and engage talents and support their career and self-development.

According to the synopsis, Built for People offers “practical guidance on the importance of user research, sprint planning, vision development,” and creating and encouraging a continuous feedback loop across teams. It also explores success metrics, organizational development and change, and company culture.


Putting The Human Back Into HR: Success as an HR Professional Begins With You by Su Patel

There are many challenges, myths, and misconceptions in the HR field. Not to mention, it’s not always easy to implement what you read about HR in the actual work environment.

Experienced HR professionals know this. New HR employees and fresh graduates face an imbalance when they join the workforce and discover many of the HR theories they’ve learnt in courses or college aren’t applicable. Or at least, companies don’t abide by them.

Additionally, trying to balance implementing HR policies, ensuring business goals are achieved, while offering fair compensation, benefits, and perks to employees is one of the biggest hassles of all.

With over 27 years in HR, Patel challenges these discrepancies. They offer tips on how to maintain this balance and create a work environment that increases employee retention.


Hire for Grit: Hire Great Talent, Create Opportunity, and Change Lives by Raj N. Suchak 

Hire for Grit focuses on the recruitment of technical talents like software engineers and developers. Generally, technical talent recruitment differs from general recruitment. But Suchak’s experiences are a whole new level of different.

Suchak believes the recruitment process, especially with tech hiring, is broken. In this book, he explains how he focuses on candidates’ skills as opposed to their previous work experiences.

Hire for Grit explores the importance of soft skills and people skills, how these skills impact recruitment and why can matter more than previous work experience.

This book is a great read for HR professionals, tech recruiters, hiring managers, and HR managers. It’s a delight to read, offering readers a new perspective in recruitment.


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