SOC Code: 13-1079

Pay Band(s): 4, 5, and 6         (Salary Structure)

Standard Occupational Description: There is no standard occupational description for the occupation of Employee Relations Specialist as used by the Commonwealth. This occupation would be included in the Human Resources, Training, and Labor Relations Specialist, All Others. This group is comprised of many different types of human resource occupations with a wide range of characteristics

Commonwealth of Virginia Description: Plan and coordinate employee relations activities and advise staff of an organization on matters relating to grievances, performance and disciplinary issues.

Employee Relations Specialist positions in the Commonwealth are assigned to the following Roles in the Human Resource Services Career Group:

Human Resource Analyst I

Human Resource Analyst II

Human Resource Analyst III

While Employee Relations Specialists within the Commonwealth are all located within the Human Resource Services Career Group, individuals may want to pursue other opportunities within the Commonwealth depending upon individual training, education, knowledge, skills, abilities, and interests.   

Other Career Group(s) that may be of interest are:

General Administration


Program Administration

Training and Instruction


(Technical and Functional Expertise)

Note: The technical and functional skills listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for Employee Relations Specialists commonly recognized by most employers.  Typically, you will not be required to have all of the skills listed to be a successful performer.  Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.

  1. Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  2. Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  3. Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  4. Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  5. Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  6. Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
  7. Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  8. Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  9. Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
  10. Bringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.

Note: The technical and functional knowledge statements listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for Employee Relations Specialists commonly recognized by most employers.  Typically, you will not be required to have all of the knowledge listed to be a successful performer.  Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.

The Knowledge of:

  1. Principles and procedures for personnel recruitment, selection, training, compensation and benefits, labor relations and negotiation, and personnel information systems.
  2. Human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
  3. Business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
  4. Structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  5. Laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
  6. Investigative and analytical techniques, procedures and requirements.
  7. Organizational Development.

Note: The technical and functional abilities listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for Employee Relations Specialists commonly recognized by most employers.  Typically, you will not be required to have all of the abilities listed to be a successful performer.  Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.

The Ability to:

  1. Listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  2. Communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  3. Read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  4. Communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  5. Identify and understand the speech of another person.
  6. Focus on a single source of sound in the presence of other distracting sounds.
  7. Tell when something is wrong or likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
  8. Combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  9. Identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material or demonstrated by individuals.

Note:  The following is a list of sample tasks typically performed by Employee Relations Specialists.  Employees in this occupation will not necessarily perform all of the tasks listed. 

  1. Advise management and employees on disciplinary actions, performance problems, productivity, and other issues to resolve disputes.
  2. Investigate problems encountered by agencies affecting employee relations by interviewing involved individuals and gathering related documents.
  3. Conducts surveys and exit interviews to identify problems and solutions.
  4. Establish and maintain relationships with managers to stay abreast of current and future employee relations issues to help prevent potential employee relation problems.
  5. Maintain current knowledge of Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) and affirmative action guidelines and laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  6. Interprets policies and recommends procedures for implementing policies to ensure compliance.
  7. Assembles and reviews records, reports and documentation of the agency's grievance, disciplinary and performance actions.


Like people, occupations have traits or characteristics.  These characteristics give important clues about the nature of the work and work environment, and give you an opportunity to match your own personal interests to a specific occupation.  When you choose a job in an occupation that matches your own interests you have taken an important step in planning a successful and rewarding career.

The occupation of Employee Relations Specialists has characteristics as described below:

Investigative — Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Social — Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.

 Conventional — Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.


Generally this is not required for Employee Relations Specialists positions in state government. However, some employers may prefer certification. Certification may enhance professional growth and career opportunities. Certification may be obtained through two major human resources associations: the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and The International Public Management Association for Human Resources (IPMA-HR).

The Society for Human Resources Management has two levels of certification. They are the Professional in Human Resources (PHR) and the Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR). Both require experience and a passing score on a comprehensive exam. Society for Human Resource Management's web site is:

The International Public Management Association for Human Resources offers two certifications. They are the IPMA-Certified Professional (IPMA-CP) and the IPMA-Certified Specialist (IPMA-CS). The International Public Management Association for Human Resources' web site is:

Certified as a Mediator through the Supreme Court is helpful and enhances career progression.


Employee relations specialists advise and counsel managers and employees in employee relations areas that include grievance handling, performance evaluations, standards of conduct, employee suggestion systems, and counseling services. Counseling may help employees deal with emotional disorders, alcoholism, or marital, family, consumer, legal, and financial problems. Some employers offer career counseling as well.

The Department of Labor provides the following information:

In filling entry-level jobs, many employers seek college graduates who have majored in human resources, personnel administration, or industrial and labor relations. Other employers look for college graduates with a technical or business background or a well-rounded liberal arts education.

Many colleges and universities have programs leading to a degree in personnel, human resources, or labor relations. Some offer degree programs in personnel administration or human resources management, training and development, or compensation and benefits. Depending on the school, courses leading to a career in human resources management may be found in departments of business administration, education, instructional technology, organizational development, human services, communication, or public administration, or within a separate human resources institution or department.

A strong background in employment dispute resolution with specialized training in mediation/alternate dispute resolution techniques, facilitation skills and strategies for effective team building is highly desirable.

The State Council of Higher Education lists many Virginia educational institutions having educational programs in human resources management on their web site:


Competencies are a set of identified behaviors, knowledge, skills, and abilities that directly and positively impact the success of employees and the organization. Competencies can be observed and measured.  When consistently demonstrated, competencies make employees particularly effective in their work.  Competencies help lay out a road map to career success.  You can use the Commonwealth Competencies to help improve your individual performance by adopting behaviors that make high performing employees successful in their jobs. In this way, you can use the Commonwealth Competencies for your further professional development.

The Commonwealth Competencies are:

  1. Technical and Functional Expertise
  2. Understanding the Business     
  3. Achieving Results
  4. Serving the Customer
  5. Teamwork
  6. Interpersonal and Communication Skills
  7. Leadership and Personal Effectiveness

The above competencies may be applied to employees throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.  They can be rank-ordered by agencies and hiring managers to represent the needs of a specific job.  The rank ordering will change depending upon the occupation, an organization's priorities, the actual job requirements, and the supervisor's preferences. 

Career success is both about what you do (applying your technical knowledge, skills, and ability) and how you do it (the consistent behaviors you demonstrate and choose to use) while interacting and communicating with others.  Hopefully, by studying the Commonwealth competencies, identifying your developmental opportunities, and working to refine your own competence, you can take charge of your career!

For additional information about the Commonwealth Competencies go to:  For the competencies, we first list the competencies and then define each.  Finally, we list competency indicators; to describe what successful performance looks like. 


Career opportunities in the Commonwealth are not limited to moving “up” to the next highest role and pay band, changing positions, or to becoming a supervisor.  That's because most roles describe a broad group of occupationally related positions that perform a range of work that requires increased knowledge and skills.  For that reason, Commonwealth roles describe the career paths within the same or higher-level role for the same or different Career Group.  The broad salary range and the Commonwealth's pay practices provide flexibility in recognizing career development and advancement. (Salary Structure)

For example: Employee Relations Specialists







Human Resource Analyst I



Human Resource Manager I


 Human Resource Analyst II



Human Resource Manager II


Human Resource Analyst III



Human Resource Manager III

Sample Career Path

Human Resource Analyst I

The Human Resource Analyst I role provides a career track for the employee relations specialist performing entry- to journey-level technical and consultative services. Responsibilities include conducting recruitment and selection processes; and employment and career counseling.

Human Resource Analyst II

This Human Resource Analyst II role provides a career track for the employee relations specialist performing advanced-level responsibilities or supervision.

Human Resource Analyst III

The Human Resource Analyst III role provides a career track for the human resource professional who serve as consultants in a centralized human resource management office. These employees provide technical guidance to professional level staff involved in compensation management, employment, workers' compensation, health benefits and EEO programs, and are also consulted on complex, sensitive or unprecedented human resource policy and procedural issues.

Human Resource Manager I

The Human Resource Manager I role is the career track for first level managerial employees involved in the planning, implementation and management of one or more specialty areas or serves as a single charge position. These employees consult with agency management on issues related to staffing, policy compliance and organizational development/management as well as direct the work of paraprofessional and professional staff. These employees formulate goals and objectives to support the organization's mission.

Human Resource Manager II

The Human Resource Manager II role is the career track for managers who manage one or more major human resource functional areas of significant complexity to director-level positions that require either a broad range of human resource knowledge or extensive knowledge in a human resource functional area. Employees may direct a major human resource program of considerable complexity and diversity in agencies with a diverse workforce that may include classified, faculty, exempt, many types of occupations and/or geographically dispersed field offices. Employees may manage/administer a major human resource program at the state level.

Human Resource Manager III

The Human Resource Manager III role provides a career track for executive-level employees, who are responsible for providing comprehensive leadership and direction to other managers, geographically dispersed programs, multiple state agencies or programs, and/or highly complex statewide human resource management programs.


O*NET (Occupational Information Network)

Virginia Employment Commission

Career One Stop

Virginia Career Resource Network

Society for Human Resource Management

The International Public Management Association for Human Resources