So you want to work in HR?
Prior to joining Bluetree last year, I had spent most of my career in Human Resources; did I graduate from University with a 1st in HR and have a burning desire to learn about employment law and ACAS guidelines? Not really; I didn’t go to university and at 22 years of age I took a temporary HR role out of sheer, ‘right time right place’ luck. Times have changed significantly since then and HR is now much harder to work in without the right qualifications or experience.
So, if you want to work in HR, I’ve outlined some tips that can help you establish if it’s the right career choice for you.
Is it really for me?
The first thing to consider is whether you have the right personal qualities to enjoy a career in HR; it takes a certain type of person to succeed in human resources and it’s essential to have the right skills. To succeed you will need (amongst others!) the following traits: –
- Excellent interpersonal skills, including empathy, tact and discretion
- The ability to deal with difficult, awkward and sometimes upsetting situations in a calm manner
- The ability to think on your feet and take control when required
- Excellent organisational skills
- Top drawer communication skills, written, spoken and (most importantly) listening!
- Strength of character – you will have to fight your corner on occasions!
- Good commercial awareness
In many generalist HR roles, you will be expected to cover a wide range of duties, from very mundane administrative duties, such as logging holiday and sickness, to much more strategic projects, so also you need to be adaptable and willing to ‘muck in’.
What are the benefits?
Once you’re ‘in’, you can expect a relatively competitive salary and a varied role where, in many cases, no two days are ever the same. Most generalist positions will require you to get involved in multiple functions such as recruitment, training and development, employee relations, performance review, policy development and discipline and grievance. For many people this level of variety is one of the main attractions of a career in HR.
A career in HR also offers the opportunity to influence an organization on several levels, to support and assist in the development of its employees, to offer support and guidance to line management and to play a part in influencing strategic business decisions, which can offer a good level of job satisfaction and career development.
How do I get started?
As HR is an increasingly competitive area, a good degree is a great advantage and if you really want a head start, studying for a qualification from the CIPD is the way forward. You may be able to find a company who is willing to take you on at a junior level and fund your CIPD qualification; I was extremely lucky and was given a half day release to complete my studies ‘on the job’, which was a huge benefit.
You might be fortunate in finding an entry level HR role or internship but gaining work experience in the real world is always a plus. Due to HR covering such a wide area, you can pick up transferable skills in many other jobs; working for a recruitment agency is an obvious one, but even customer service or an administrative or sales role can give you a good grounding as it builds and develops skills such as communication, influencing and interpersonal skills.
If you would like more information about developing or growing your HR career, feel free to contact me [email protected] and I would be more than happy to help!