October 28, 2016

Looking to start a career in HR?

Anyone who wants to pursue a career in HR needs to think how best to go about it. As with most professions, there is no one set route in. However, any on the job experience will help, as will qualifications.

Not surprisingly, the customary place to enter HR is at entry level. That could be as an HR administrator, HR assistant or HR officer position, for example.

One obvious place to start is with a CIPD qualification. As the recognised HR professional body, the CIPD’s qualifications open a lot of doors. Aspiring HR professionals would do well to check out the range of CIPD entry level qualifications. They start with Level 3 Foundation qualifications, offering a good perspective on and practical experience in a range of HR and development skills.

The CIPD provides training through its training arm, CIPD Training, but there are lots of training providers and universities that are also accredited to provide CIPD qualifications. Such as ourselves!

Of course, the cost of gaining a qualification can be off putting, but there is help in the form of professional and career development loans. These are bank loans that cover the costs of courses and training that will help a person to get into their work or with their career. According to the Government’s website, applicants can borrow between £300 and £10,000. The loans are usually offered at a reduced interest rate and the government pays the interest during the study period.

Another potential route into HR is through a business apprenticeship scheme. These are great for people starting off in the world of work as they are available for anyone over 16 who is not at school or college full time. The CIPD recommends an Apprenticeship in Business and Administration, for example, as they contain HR modules. And that way, candidates also gain some all important business experience, something that most employers will look for. Apprenticeships can take anything from a year to four years to complete.

Given the competitive employment landscape, a lot of employers look for candidates with a degree under their belt these days. It doesn’t have to be an HR related degree, although that would help enormously. Universities run degree courses in HR management or combined degree courses such as Business and Management or Business and Human Resource Management.

There are also graduate training schemes to consider. The options are either a general graduate scheme that gives a flavour of lots different departments, including HR, or an HR-specific one.

Although aspiring HR professionals do tend to start in entry level positions, the industry is also crying out for candidates with business experience and skills in other disciplines. For that reason, experienced business personnel who fancy a move into HR and have transferable skills that the profession needs can often make the switch, going in at a higher level. Someone coming from an operations background, someone with demonstrable leadership and management experience or just someone with a really solid, high level business CV, for example.

The HR profession is always looking for people with business nous and financial acumen, so these skills are held in high regard. One area of expertise and knowledge that has grown exponentially in importance in recent years and will continue to do so is analytics. The profession needs people with strong analytical skills and an understanding of how to measure, analyse and communicate data in a meaningful way, but they are in short supply.

Sometimes professionals with these skills can make the leap into HR on the basis of their working history alone. Other times, some form of HR qualification or experience (say a secondment into the HR department or some job shadowing) is necessary.

To find out more about our range of CIPD qualifications, speak to one of our Programme Advisors on 0330 660 0220.

Please note that the HR qualifications that appear on this page will be replaced in 2021. For more information on this change please read the CIPD’s announcement here.