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How to break into a career in Human Resources

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Human resources is a business-strategy aligned function of corporations, designed to assist the organisation in achieving its goals through effective recruitment, development and retention of staff. A good HR function can help a company gain competitive advantage in the market through these practices. In more recent times the function has increased to take on additional areas such as well-being, safeguarding, internal communications, community involvement and corporate social responsibility amongst other areas.

It remains a valuable area for aspiring professionals to move into and to have a rewarding and challenging career. Jobs within HR tend to be very transferable and many roles have acreditations attached that facilitate this. The roles within HR can be generalist or focused into specialist areas, particularly as an individual’s career and experience develops.

A starting role will generally operate at the administrative side of HR. This might involve preparing and sending out contracts, administrative paperwork, internal forms, pay reviews and other activities. Employee databases are kept updated and the team will work closely with other functions such as payroll.

HR administrators will also typically deal with administrative processes for new starters, such as paperwork and induction processes. They will deal with leavers, sickness, disciplinary issues, bonus and pay reviews, maternity, development and other HR areas in similar ways. They will probably be expected to work within an SLA, responding to queries within established timeframes and following strict procedures for administrative records, paper trails and database updating.

As the HR practitioner develops, they will likely start advising managerial staff on staffing issues, disciplinaries, grievances and more. Trade Union involvement may be a factor, along with changes to HR legislation, involvement with internal communications programmes, internal change programmes and more.

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HR graduate job description

Graduates croppedThere are a number of graduate HR training schemes and these are usually the best place to start a successful HR career. Graduate HR jobs or graduate recruitment jobs will allow you to learn the skills required to progress in an HR career within a more experienced HR team.

A good degree (2:1 or above) is usually required for graduate HR schemes and graduate-level vacancies in HR. This industry is open to graduates from any discipline, and while HR-related degrees may be relevant, they are not necessarily considered an advantage.

HR Graduate Jobs

  • The first step in an HR career will most likely be in the role of HR assistant. These HR jobs will consist of keeping up the day to day running of the HR department and by starting your HR career at the bottom of the ladder, you will gain the best understanding of the way that HR jobs work.
  • Graduate HR jobs will involve a lot of administrative tasks for the more senior HR officer(s) such as writing and posting job adverts, obtaining references, reviewing and filing applicant’s CVs, arranging appointments and generally assisting senior employees.

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