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Six ways to kick-start your HR career

Kate Allen, Managing Director, Allen Associates

While it is true that Human Resources is one of the core functions in which we specialise, it is equally right to say that both demand for HR professionals is rising as is its profile as a career of choice. But with this comes competition in the form of other candidates who are eager to secure the best HR roles that are out there, so how can you get noticed by recruiters and employers and kick-start your new career in this field?

With over 140,000 people registered with the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and with salaries in the sector ranging from £16,000-£70,000, those looking to carve out a career for themselves in HR need to understand how to ‘sell’ themselves in the most effective way.

Here’s our top tips to boost your chance of job-seeking success:

1. Lack work experience?
While having some prior experience of working in a HR role will obviously give you an upper hand, it isn’t essential when starting your career. There are a number of options open to you. For instance, speak to your current Employer and ask if there is the opportunity to gain some experience within the HR department. Even if no separate department exists, there will always be someone in the business who is responsible for HR matters, so speak to them and see if you can shadow and help them out.

Another option could be to look into taking an internship on a voluntary basis, where you can immerse yourself with the running of a HR department and gain first-hand insight into what it may be like to perform the role you ideally want to be doing. Anything that will demonstrate your interest and willingness to learn the role of HR presents you as a well-formed candidate and this will be favourably looked upon by recruiters and Employers.

2. Be realistic in your job search
Similar to the housing crisis of today, millennials don’t want to start at the bottom of the housing ladder, they want to jump on it half way up, and opt for a three-bedroom house with a huge garden for their first purchase. It doesn’t always work like this in the real world, and the same rule applies for HR positions.

While you may have obtained a degree from a certain local university whose name we won’t mention, or have a handful of qualifications obtained at school or college, you have to learn your trade from the bottom up. So, rather than setting your sites on the role of Talent Resourcing Partner or HR Manager, for instance, take a look at those roles that serve as a great introduction to the profession and arm you with the knowledge and skills that you will need as your career progresses.

3. Make the most of what you have
When it comes to entry level positions, recruiters and Employers rarely look for proven experience – because most people won’t have very much of it. Instead, they look for your ‘potential’ to be successful in a role. So, think about the jobs you have done in the past and identify the skills you developed performing those duties that could be relevant to the job you are applying for.

For example, if you worked for the student union, maybe you handled certain transactions, negotiated rates with venues to hold events, organised volunteers to help out at those events, or booked bands to play. While not HR-specific per se, these are all skills that are invaluable in a HR environment – they’ve simply been used in a different context. This will help to make your CV stand out.

4. Increase your knowledge
There are two key things that job seekers should always do more of – improve their industry knowledge and make great contacts. Keep up to date with the latest news and trends within HR by subscribing to and reading key publications such as HR Magazine, Personnel Today and Changeboard. By doing so, you will be able to demonstrate your knowledge of the sector and make a great first impression at your first interview. But you also need to form new alliances, too.

5. Network
If you’re not already using LinkedIn, you need to start. Ensure your profile is up to date and join the relevant discussion groups for the sector and participate in them. Post relevant news that you think others in HR will find interesting and start or join different discussions. This differentiates you from other candidates, shows a real enthusiasm for your chosen career, and it is a quick and easy way to build your network of fellow HRs. You never know – you could get the attention of a recruiter or hiring manager who is looking for someone like you.

6. Sign up to an agency who specialise in HR recruitment
Looking for jobs online is great, but having a specialist consultant who can tailor a job spec and really understand your career needs is extremely beneficial. There are so many different levels of HR and different disciplines, so having a Recruitment agency on your side that can match your skills, talent, and work ethic to a suitable and specific company will guarantee you and your HR career a great start.

If you’re looking to start your career in HR, are a graduate looking for a junior role, or are already a skilled and experienced HR professional, get in touch with the team today.

We take the time to really understand what you want from your move and match you to the roles that are right for you.  We’re here to help.

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