Labour market information Explore careers by essential skills

Essential skills profile

This profile contains a list of example tasks that illustrate how each of the 9 essential skills is generally performed by most workers in this occupation. The levels of complexity estimated for each task are ranked between 1 (basic) and 5 (advanced).

You can use this profile to:
Find a job
Write your resume and prepare for job interviews
Plan your career
Determine which career may best suit you based on your skill set
Manage your workforce
Write job postings, assess employee performance and develop training

Find out more about this occupation

For more information on this occupation, look at the related job profile. It provides information on prevailing wages, job prospects and other skill requirements.

Look up job profile

Personnel Clerks (1415)

Personnel clerks assist personnel officers and human resources specialists and compile, maintain and process information relating to staffing, recruitment, training, labour relations, performance evaluations and classifications. They are employed in personnel departments throughout the public and private sectors.

Reading Help - Reading
  • Read memos about such matters as employee bonus requirements to stay abreast of policies and read intra-office messages forwarded by electronic mail to perform routine personnel management duties. (1)
  • Read correspondence such as letters of complaint from persons who have had unsatisfactory dealings with the personnel department. (2)
  • Read application forms, resumes and cover letters from job applicants to evaluate their skills and potentially arrange work placements. (3)
  • Read human resources' journals and magazines to maintain a current knowledge of industry practices and trends. (3)
  • Read legislative documents relating to human rights or labour standards to comply with legal requirements and communicate related information to employees as required. (3)
  • May interpret clauses in collective agreements, particularly when changes occur, to implement them according to their intent. (4)
  • Refer to benefits' manuals to obtain current information on the administration of benefits, such as retirement savings plans and health plans, and respond to employee enquiries. The use of legal and technical terminology makes this reading complex. (4)
Document use Help - Document use
  • Read labels on files and computer diskettes to identify their contents. (1)
  • Use lists to look up employee-related data such as seniority status, telephone numbers, hiring dates and placement information. (1)
  • Read and complete a variety of forms such as fax cover sheets, purchase orders, time cards and cheque requisitions. (2)
  • Read tables and schedules for data on hiring, retirement and disability leave to prepare staffing reports. (2)
  • Complete a variety of forms relating to personnel matters such as labour relations and compensation. (3)
Writing Help - Writing
  • Record telephone messages for office staff and jot reminder notes. (1)
  • Prepare responses to employee inquiries about personnel issues and forward via electronic mail (e-mail). E-mail messages tend to be less formal and shorter than memos. (1)
  • Complete forms, such as new employee status forms and accident forms, and fill in missing information on forms submitted by employees relating to medical benefits or compensation. (2)
  • Write letters to job applicants to acknowledge receiving their resumes and to advise them of the status of their applications. (2)
  • Write memos to managers informing them of new policies and to head office requesting information. (2)
  • Revise job descriptions to update them in terms of occupational duties and competency requirements. (3)
Numeracy Help - Numeracy Money Math
  • Reimburse employees for money spent on supplies, such as safety equipment or uniforms. (1)
  • Total the applicable reimbursement for a benefit claim, to process claims submitted by employees. (2)
  • Verify the accuracy of an employee's pay cheque to identify and correct any errors. This involves calculating gross pay, by multiplying the hourly rate by the number of hours worked, and the total of all deductions, such as income tax. (3)
Scheduling, Budgeting & Accounting Math
  • Maintain financial records to record cheques issued to employees. (1)
  • Determine the number of workers required to perform tasks, considering production rates per person. (2)
  • May adjust an established budget for casual labour in light of new information or circumstances. (3)
  • May plan and monitor schedules and budgets for vacations, arranging for temporary replacement personnel, or special projects, such as when a department requires term employees to clear up a backlog of work over a three month period. (4)
Measurement and Calculation Math
  • May weigh mail to apply the correct postage. (1)
Data Analysis Math
  • Analyse staffing complements, making simple comparisons such as whether the number of employees in certain job classifications has increased or decreased. (1)
  • May calculate averages from monthly reports on absenteeism and make observations about the results. (2)
  • May prepare summary statistics showing the percentage of employees in full, part-time and temporary categories. (2)
  • May produce reports of average monthly absenteeism to monitor absenteeism at the work place and take remedial action if necessary. (3)
  • May compare the employment packages offered by their organization to those of similar organizations to assess the market value of various occupations. (4)
Numerical Estimation
  • Estimate the amount of time needed to accomplish various job tasks to schedule temporary personnel. (2)
  • May estimate the staffing requirements for the upcoming year, in consultation with key managers, considering such factors as the expected volume of work. (3)
Oral communication Help - Oral communication
  • Answer incoming calls, taking messages and directing requests to appropriate staff members. Personnel clerks are often the first point of contact for incoming calls. (1)
  • Use paging systems to contact employees. (1)
  • Interact with co-workers to inform them of their rights and obligations, explain benefit packages, discuss job postings and complete forms required to administer personnel procedures and policies. (2)
  • Interact with co-workers to resolve personnel problems and conflicts. (2)
  • Interact with managers and supervisors to discuss projects and priorities, forecast human resources requirements and provide administrative support. (2)
  • May interact with past employers to conduct reference checks. (2)
  • Interact with job candidates to provide job-related information and to assist in assessing their credentials through interviews. They may also administer competency or aptitude tests. (3)
Thinking Help - Thinking Problem Solving
  • Personnel clerks often set up group meetings. They use problem solving skills to establish meeting times which will work for the many different employees who must be at the meeting. (1)
  • Employees phone their supervisor to inform them that they are unable to report for work due to illness and the supervisor, in turn, contacts the personnel clerk. Personnel clerks arrange for temporary employees, considering the need for economy and efficiency, subject to their manager's approval. (2)
  • An employee who does not receive a promotion feels that the manager was not fair. Personnel clerks interact with employees and their managers in the capacity of a neutral third party to resolve interpersonal conflicts sensitively. (2)
  • An employee is upset because of a pay cheque error and asks the personnel clerk to resolve the problem quickly. Personnel clerks identify the cause of the error and co-ordinate with the accounting or payroll staff to correct it while also trying to defuse the employee's anger. (2)
  • A department head makes an urgent request for an employee with specialized skills; however, the skills and knowledge requirements of the job are not clear. Personnel clerks consult with the department head to obtain more specific information about the job's duties and related competency requirements, passing this information on to the personnel manager. (3)
Decision Making
  • Decide in what employment categories to place resumes for processing. (1)
  • Decide how to resolve employee complaints, speaking to employees or supervisors about situations if necessary. (2)
  • May decide on the timing of warnings and sanctions for absent employees. (2)
  • May decide which job applicants for casual work to select for interviews and to hire, considering their assessment of the match between qualifications and job requirements. Hiring decisions for casual labour may be made by the personnel clerk; however, they do not make hiring decisions for permanent and managerial staff. (3)
Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking information was not collected for this profile.

Job Task Planning and Organizing

Personnel clerks have some variety in their work activities within the broad routine of the office. Work priorities are an outcome of human resources plans and are also influenced by variables such as the frequency and scope of requests from managers for administrative support. In this context, personnel clerks have wide scope to sequence their tasks for efficiency, responding to frequent interruptions such as unscheduled visits from employees wishing to discuss personnel issues. Their work plan must be integrated with the work plans of others, such as human resources managers and staffing consultants. (3)

Significant Use of Memory
  • Remember the names, faces and voices of clients and employees to enhance customer service.
  • Memorize the answers to employment tests to facilitate efficient scoring.
  • Memorize information about various employee benefits to administer claims and answer questions.
  • Recall the provisions of collective agreements to comply with their requirements.
Finding Information
  • Refer to work schedules to provide information to employees. (1)
  • Conduct reference checks on prospective employees. (2)
  • Contact government officials (e.g., labour boards, employment centres), by phone or electronic mail, to find regulatory information on matters such as maternity leave. (2)
  • Refer to procedure and policy manuals to answer questions. (2)
  • Consult staff members as well as computer-based and paper files to obtain information about upcoming and ongoing jobs. (3)
  • Read employee files to determine seniority and to relate past experience to new job openings. (3)
Digital technology Help - Digital technology
  • They may retrieve information from employee files regarding pay or benefits. (2)
  • They may record candidates' scores on competency tests. (2)
  • They may input financial data. (2)
  • They may send and receive electronic mail. (2)
  • Use other computer applications. For example, they may use training software to assist employees to acquire new computer skills. (2)
  • They prepare letters and mailing lists. (3)
  • They may prepare charts to present human resources data. (3)
Additional information Help - Additional information Other Essential Skills:

Working with Others

Most personnel clerks work independently as part of the human resources team. They co-ordinate with others in the organization, such as human resources consultants and department chiefs, attending staff meetings as required. Occasionally, personnel clerks work directly with supervisors or other co-workers to collaborate in accomplishing tasks such as conducting research or sorting pay cheques.

Continuous Learning

Personnel clerks have to continue to learn to maintain a current knowledge of policies, procedures and industry practice and to upgrade their computer skills. New learning is acquired through independent reading of journals and articles. Some personnel clerks participate in formal training sessions.

Date modified: