How to Get a Job in HR

Jan 10, 2021

HR plays a central role in all successful businesses but getting a job within the industry can prove challenging.

However, there are certain tasks that you can undertake in order to increase your chances of landing a job in HR.

In this post, we will explain some of our top tips that can help you to launch your HR career.

#1: Achieve a 2:1 degree in any subject

You do not usually need a to get a degree in HR (or related), to get a graduate job in HR. Most employers will consider graduates from any degree discipline.

Whatever you study aim to achieve a 2:1 degree as the majority of graduate schemes ask for this as a minimum academic requirement.

Do I need a Master’s in Human Resource Management?

You do not need a Master’s in HR in order to break into the industry. As long as you meet the minimum academic requirements, your application will be considered.

Several universities offer a Master’s in Human Resource Management that is accredited by The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), which gives students full exemption against the Level 7 Advanced Diploma in HRM.

This level of professional accreditation prepares candidates for senior leadership positions in HR. Such courses typically cover the core principles of HR practice such as:

  • Leadership
  • Developing and managing people
  • Employment Law
  • Employee Relations

As this Master’s is designed to help people to advance into HR roles, you may consider taking this Master’s much later in your career journey, and if your employer feels it will benefit you, they may fund the course for you.

Here is a list of some universities in the UK that offer a CIPD accredited Master’s in Human Resources Management:

#2: Get Some HR Work Experience

If a candidate has prior work experience in the industry that they are applying for, then they will go right to the top of the employer’s shortlist and HR is no different. 

However, we appreciate that gaining HR experience is not always straightforward. But, if you can find a HR internship, for example, then this will drastically increase your chances of landing a HR job in the future. 

These internships may be unpaid but that should not put you off. This is because a HR internship should be all about gaining experience and acquiring the relevant HR skills.

If you achieve this then it will set you apart from other candidates who are applying for the same HR jobs as you. This is because you will be at a higher skill level in comparison. This means that you will require less training, which will allow you to contribute to the company sooner.

How to get HR Work experience

Summer internship

If you are in your second year of university, strongly consider getting a HR internship. This experience will give you hands-on experience and boost your employability.

Summer internships are usually assessed. Meaning if you do well on the internship, you may be fast-tracked for the HR graduate scheme.

Companies that offer HR Summer internships:

Placement year

Alternatively, if you are in your second year of your degree, you may want to consider doing a HR-related placement year. Be sure to read our post on how to get a placement.

Companies that offer HR placement years

Get virtual experience

More and more companies are offering virtual work experience programmes.

Read our ultimate guide to virtal internships

Do some HR-related volunteering

Voluntary experience in HR will help you to gain experience whilst also demonstrating a genuine interest in the field.

Search websites such as Do-it to find volunteering opportunities.

What to do if you are struggling to find work experience in HR

Even if you cannot find a HR internship, it is worth sending speculative applications to local businesses in your area to see if any administration work is available, as even that will boost your HR skills.

Any work experience that you get will significantly boost your employability because you will gain transferable skills.

Photo by Christina Morillo from Pexels

#3: Improve Your Soft Skills

Having soft skills, such as critical thinking, work ethic, etc are imperative in order to be successful within HR. In order to improve on your soft skills, you first need to identify which soft skills you are lacking. 

So, for example, if you have identified that you are not an effective communicator then one way that you can improve on this is to practice presentations. The topic and the audience of these presentations do not necessarily matter, you should be focusing more on the delivery. If you can get to the stage where you are communicating your main points clearly then that is a great sign that your communication skills have improved.

Soft skills that you can use in a HR role can also be developed in completely different workplaces as well. This is because soft skills are completely transferable so they can be learnt and applied anywhere. 

So, do not be afraid to take a part-time job in an unrelated industry, such as retail because the soft skills that you will learn there will still be transferable to a HR role.

If you can demonstrate to a potential employer that you have a multitude of soft skills, then your chances of landing a HR job will significantly increase.

Soft skills needed to get a job in HR

  • Empathy
  • Leadership and teamwork
  • Organisation
  • Adaptability
  • Communication

How to improve your soft skills

  • Take online courses on sites such as LinkedIn Learning, Udemy, Skillshare and more.
  • Ask your family members and close friends for feedback
  • Get a coach to help you develop soft skills such as how to present yourself.
  • Read The Student Book written by Head graduate Coach Chris Davies

#4: Understand the graduate job application process

As a graduate looking to get a job in HR, you can either apply for HR graduate jobs or HR graduate schemes. The difference between the two is that graduate schemes tend to offer more structured programmes and tend to be offered by larger companies.

Graduate schemes tend to be more competitive, so do not limit yourself to graduate schemes as every company even smaller companies will have a HR function to some extent. There are benefits to working in a smaller company such as potentially gaining more exposure and responsibility quicker.

Whether you apply for a graduate job or graduate scheme, you will need to submit your CV, and attend several interviews including video interviews.

Applying for HR graduate schemes

There are several benefits to completing a graduate scheme in HR:

  • Many companies pay for employees on the graduate scheme to complete their professional qualifications. For example, for the HR Graduate scheme at BT, employees are supported through studying for the HR Management CIPD Level 5.
  • Completing a HR graduate scheme at a larger company will provide a unique experience as the HR department and the number of employees will be larger.
  • Having a larger company on you CV will help you to switch roles.

We have compiled a list of companies that offer graduate schemes in HR.

Applying for HR graduate jobs

Alternatively, you can look out for graduate jobs in HR. As a graduate, look out for entry-level HR roles such as “HR Assistant”.

Where to find HR Graduate Jobs

There are many job boards advertising entry-level jobs for graduates.

Read: 23 Job Websites for Graduates

#5: Join The CIPD

The CIPD is a professional association for human resource management professionals. Joining the CIPD’s student membership is a great way to advance your HR career.

The main reason for this is that they offer courses that provide you with internationally recognised qualifications. In addition to this, they also provide you with a knowledge hub which will drastically improve your understanding of HR.

Attainting that knowledge and those qualifications will allow you to excel in HR interviews and make landing a job in HR much easier.

However, joining the CIPD has a monetary charge. This means that, depending on your financial situation, you may need to wait until another point in your career until you can join the CIPD.

Nevertheless, if you are unable to join the CIPD at this time, there are still plenty of websites that will provide you with up to date HR news and free online HR courses.

Browse through the CIPD Community forums – the CIPD community clinic has information on HR qualifications, studying, CPD, work experience, mentoring and internships.

#6: HR job application tips

So far in this guide on how to get a job in HR, we have covered several things that you can do before applying to boost your chances of success.

Here are some job application tips tailored to a job in HR.

Show That You Are Passionate About The Industry

First of all, if you have a HR related degree then that is a great start. This is because it shows potential employers that you have had a strong interest in the industry for some time.

However, if you do not have a HR related degree, then do not worry. There are many other ways in which you can demonstrate your passion for HR. One of these being online courses.

An example of a great online HR course is General Electric’s Human Resources Program. This course allows you to increase your practical understanding of HR by completing a varied set of tasks.

Not only will these types of courses set you up nicely for a HR role, they will also help you in interviews. This is because when answering interview questions regarding HR, your answers will be more in-depth as you can draw on your experiences from these types of courses.

These in-depth answers will give potential employers confidence that you are the right candidate for the job as you are able to demonstrate your understanding of the role.

Tailor Your CV To Each Role You Apply For

First of all, it is extremely important that you have a dedicated HR CV, rather than just a general CV. This is because your HR CV should not just show off your qualifications and experience, but also tell your potential employers why you are suited for a role in HR.

Once you have set up your dedicated HR CV, you need to tailor it every time you apply for a different HR role. This is because it is very rare that you will find two identical HR job specifications.

Each HR job specification is likely to ask for something slightly different. This is why if you tailor your CV each time you apply for a different HR role, you can demonstrate how you meet exactly what is being asked of you.

For example, if one HR job is particularly admin-heavy, then you can highlight any previous administration experience in your CV to show that you are a good fit for the job.

If you do this for every HR role that you apply for then your CV will always be relevant to the job, which will increase your chances of getting hired.

Learn from others who are already in the industry

  1. Use online HR forums such as CIPD Community
  2. Read blog posts written by graduates who have secured jobs in HR
  3. Get a mentor who works in the industry
  4. Build up your network on LinkedIn
  5. Read publications such as HR Magazine, HRD Connect, HR Grapevine
  6. Watch webinars and videos delivered by HR professionals
START YOUR HR CAREER | My career story and tips for getting into HR! |
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Use Recruitment agencies and job websites

Using a recruitment agency can help you to get a job in HR. Some recruitment agencies even specialise in helping people to get jobs in HR.

Job websites that allow you to search for jobs and receive job notifications.

Summary: How to get a job in HR

We hope that this post has provided you with some areas to improve on in order to ensure that you land a job in HR. If you follow these tips then you will be much more likely to stand out to potential employers, thus allowing you to launch your HR career.

If you would like help getting a graduate job in HR, contact us. We offer a one-to-one career coaching programme with a job guarantee.

As well as our full career coaching programme, we offer books, courses and interview coaching.

Written by Jack Sheehan
Featured image by: Edmond Dantès from Pexels

The Seven Secrets of Success

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  • Learn seven things you can implement today to enhance your job search strategy.
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