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March 23, 2024

How to start a career in HR

There are few more rewarding jobs in business than taking care of colleagues while helping to drive your company to new heights.

Human resources jobs are highly sought after as they are recognised not only for their importance and variety but for the opportunities they offer.

But how do you start a career in HR and what qualities do you need?

HR professionals take care of everything affecting a business’ employees from appointments to salaries, training to grievances. They must also ensure staff records are kept up to date and the business is always compliant with workplace law and health and safety legislation.

As such, HR staff must be multi-skilled with innate qualities of approachability, empathy, maturity and discretion as well as a keen understanding of the law and data programmes.

Gaining qualifications is a good way to start a career in HR. If you are planning to go to university, it is worth considering a related degree course such as Human Resources Management, Business Management, Psychology or Economics. Once completed, you might then be lucky enough to land a role in an HR graduate training scheme.

Alternatively, you could study a range of online courses such as a Higher National Certificate or Higher National Diploma in Human Resource Management or undertake a qualification from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, the professional body for HR and people development. There’s plenty to choose from ranging from organisational learning and development to strategic people management.

However, there are other ways to begin a career in HR. If you are already working, try to sharpen up the skills which are essential for your new hoped-for profession. First and foremost, develop your communication skills. These are central to most HR-related tasks from carrying out performance reviews to negotiating flexible working and pay disputes. Tact, empathy, sensitivity and discretion are also vital in HR and these qualities can be honed in whatever role you are currently in.

In addition, practise your writing and proofreading skills. Not all communication is in person so you need to ensure you can relate information to others both effectively and sensitively in written form.

HR professionals also have to work well in a team with high emotional intelligence, good organisational skills and good business knowledge. Think about how your experience at work relates to this skill set so you can give examples of your abilities and acquired knowledge.

You should also invest some time into demonstrating how your life and business experience can be adapted for a successful career in HR. Look objectively at your CV and ensure it heralds these skills as well as practical examples of times when you have used these qualities in a work environment.

If you are just starting out in the working world, and don’t yet have either experience or qualifications, try looking for an internship in an HR department. Here you will develop the skills you need and have the chance to demonstrate your personal qualities. Even if you don’t get a job at the firm you are working for, you will be gaining valuable experience to add to your CV.

A world of opportunities can be opened through a career in HR and there are plenty of ways to show you are the right person for the job.