How to Get into HR and Kickstart Your HR Career
Whether you’re a fresh graduate interested in Human Resources Management or a seasoned professional who wants to switch careers, you might wonder how to get into HR. Let’s explore starting a career in HR!
Job outlook and salaries in HR
Although the labor market continues to evolve and technological advances increasingly shape changes in the workplace, HR is set to remain integral to organizations.
HR roles are predicted to grow over the next decade, with the employment of HR specialists projected to grow 10% by 2030, with 73,400 openings in the US each year. Meanwhile, the employment of HR managers is projected to grow by 9% in the same period, with around 14,800 openings each year.
Salaries for HR, training, and labor relations specialists have the potential to grow over 3, 5, and 10 years at a higher growth rate than many other industries, while HR assistants see wage growth 3 and 6 years later after starting their role.
What qualifications do you need to work in HR?
Some organizations may require you to have a foundation degree, higher national diploma, or Bachelor’s degree. However, this does not necessarily have to be in HR, but subjects including HR, business, economics, finance, and psychology are all relevant and can improve your chances of finding employment. From here, you can apply for a graduate HR training scheme.
There are also various HR certifications you can get by studying from home that can help you get into HR, and we’ll discuss this in more detail later in this article.
9 tips for how to get into HR
1. Leverage transferable skills
Anyone starting a career in HR may not have specific HR management knowledge, expertise, or strategy skills. However, there are probably a number of skills you’ve developed at school, in your other jobs, or even in other areas of your life.
For example, soft skills like communication, time management, collaboration, a strong command of technology, and cultural awareness are all valuable, transferable skills to the world of HR. These are core skills that play a significant role in succeeding in an HR role.
Make a list of all the skills and strengths you possess, and see which of them can be applied to a career in HR.
2. Build HR skills
- Administrative expertise
- HRM knowledge and expertise
- HR strategy creation & execution
- Managing priorities
- Recruitment and selection
- Employee experience expertise
- Command of technology
- Being analytical and data-driven
- HR reporting skills
- Commercial awareness
- Wellbeing evangelism
There are many ways you can build these skills to help you land your first HR role. Firstly, you could request to join an HR project in your organization. This could be, for instance, an initiative related to employee engagement, wellbeing, or DEIB. If data is what excites you, you could also offer to help HR analyze their data. Cross-functional projects are always a good idea and can benefit all parties involved.
Do some research and see if there is a way for you to gain HR experience and essential skills in your current role without changing jobs right away. Perhaps you could ask your manager if there’s a possibility of you taking on extra responsibilities such as leading a team or project and managing people.
Remember, you may not be able to land a role in HR immediately. Sometimes it might be necessary to gain experience in a similar position, such as customer service or support or an admin role. Focus on the skills you need to move into HR and dedicate yourself to developing these so that you can eventually progress.
3. Get an HR certification
As we discussed earlier, getting an online HR certification can be a brilliant way to gain valuable HR skills and knowledge and save money by bypassing expensive degrees. You will develop your skill set and gain credentials and credibility that can help you land a job in HR.
There is a wide range of HR certifications to choose from depending on whether you’re interested in becoming an HR generalist or specializing in people analytics, compensation and benefits, or talent acquisition. Look out for certifications suitable for beginners and relevant to the areas you want to focus on.
Most HR certifications allow you to learn entirely from home and at your own pace. That means you can balance learning around your current commitments, save money on travel, and won’t have to quit your job until you land a new one.
4. Join HR communities and start building a network
There are so many HR communities on various platforms across the web that you can join (either for free or inexpensively) and start connecting with other HR industry professionals. This will help you build your knowledge and awareness, learn about new job opportunities, and maybe even find a mentor or get referrals.
Here are some well-established HR communities to get you started.
We couldn’t write about HR communities without mentioning our own because we’re incredibly proud of what we’ve built! Anyone who enrolls in one of our online HR certification courses will gain access to the Practitioners Community in our portal.
Here, students can accelerate their learning, enjoy thought-provoking conversations, share their challenges and wins, and gain valuable support and advice for taking that next step in their career.
With over 800,000 members, this is arguably the best HR group to join on LinkedIn. You’ll benefit from regular contributions from top HR leaders, engaging discussions on various topics, and new daily posts.
This online community for HR professionals was built by two workers who quit their corporate jobs out of frustration and lack of motivation in their behind-the-times workplaces. This blog is fighting to change that.
This Facebook group is dedicated to HR professionals and people who manage others. It’s a place to seek advice, network, and celebrate your successes—and this group of people are not afraid to share a meme or two!
This forum boasts a discussion group and hours of incredibly beneficial tools for all HR professionals and anyone looking to start their career. You’ll find live webinars, events, and various smaller communities to get involved in.
This online community for HR professionals is powerful, with over 300,000 members, access to resources, news, webcasts, an HR magazine, an “ask an HR advisor service,” and more.
The People People Group is a community of HR, recruitment, and operations professionals with a collective mission to work together and improve all organizations’ employee and candidate experience.
For more HR communities and forums, check out this HR communities list. And don’t forget to research what’s happening in your local area too. Local HR associations and meetups are always going on; it’s just a matter of discovering them.
5. Find a mentor
If you want to learn how to get into HR, one of the best things you can do is find a mentor who inspires you and you look up to. This should be someone you aspire to be like, someone whose career you would love to emulate.
One of the things that money can’t buy you is experience, and someone who has worked in the HR industry for decades will have plenty of invaluable experience to share with you.
So, if you know someone in HR you look up to, consider reaching out to them and starting a conversation. If you have a specific question, don’t be afraid to ask. Most people love to share their knowledge and help others. You never know what might happen—this could develop into a long-term relationship.
And if you don’t know anyone in HR, online communities and local HR networking events are a great way to meet the right people.
6. Use free resources to stay on top of what’s new and what’s important
If you want to get into HR, it’s essential you stay on top of current and future trends. You need to have your finger on the pulse of the industry. The great news is that there is a wealth of free information just a few clicks away, including blogs, podcasts, and newsletters.
Listen to HR podcasts:
- All About HR
- People Managing People
- Vantage Circle
- Transform Your Workplace
- HR Happy Hour Show
- Nine To Thrive HR
- The HR Social Hour Half Hour Podcast
- Recruiting Future
Read websites & blogs:
- HR Dive
- The Kazoo Blog
- Evil HR Lady
- The HR Capitalist
- Laurie Ruettimann
- The Good.Co
Subscribe to newsletters:
- The Assist
- People First
- SelectSoftware Reviews
- I <3 Humans
- TLNT Daily
- Recruiting Brainfood
Soaking up this information and knowledge will help set you up for success in an HR role and give you plenty to discuss in forums, at meetups, and in your future interviews.
7. Perfect your resume
Tailoring your resume can really help in starting a career in HR. If you’re fresh out of college or your main experience is in a different industry, it’s likely that your current resume is tailored in the wrong direction and doesn’t fully demonstrate what you have to offer.
As we discussed earlier, highlight the skills you’ve developed in previous roles and settings that are transferable to HR and any professional experience, education, and credentials you’ve gained.
Look at the job descriptions of the roles you’re applying for to help you give your resume a makeover. What are employers looking for, and how can you place more emphasis on those skills and behaviors? What can you remove from your resume irrelevant to this position so that you’ve more space to highlight what is?
Make sure you write a concise personal statement at the top that instantly conveys your interest in gaining an HR role.
When you’re happy with your new resume, ask someone you trust to look at it for you and give you feedback. This could be an HR professional you know or your mentor.
8. Get an internship
Internships are a solid way to build real industry experience and skills in a short amount of time, build connections, gain credits for a degree, and even land yourself a job. You can do many internships during vacation time between semesters of studying. Internships will range from full-time, part-time, and summer internships.
Most internships will involve you working under the guidance of an HR manager. They will give you a taste of various roles and functions within the HR department. You’ll develop your communication and organizational skills, work on real-time projects, build your network, and lay an essential foundation for your HR career.
Job sites like Indeed and LinkedIn regularly list internship opportunities, but you will be competing with a large number of candidates. Another excellent way to find an internship is attending recruiting events hosted by your college. The added bonus is that you can introduce yourself to hiring managers from well-known companies, which makes a far greater impression than a resume.
9. Apply for entry-level roles
The final tip for how to get into HR is to apply for an entry-level position when you feel ready. After you’ve spent some time developing your skills and experience and tailoring your resume, start searching for suitable HR jobs.
Some job titles you might want to look for include:
- HR assistant
- Benefits administrator
- Payroll administrator
- Junior recruiter
- Temp agency assistant
While your first role in the HR field might not be your dream job, every position will help you build work experience, deepen your knowledge and develop skills that will create a strong foundation to help you eventually move into your ideal role and progress on your HR career path.
If you’re already working at an organization with a thriving HR department and know of other employees who have moved across the business, have a conversation with your manager about the possibility of moving into an entry-level HR role. This can be a great opportunity to get your foot in the door and immerse yourself in the HR world.
Over to you
Getting an HR certification, building your skills and experience, and connecting with other HR professionals will help you learn about common HR challenges and how to overcome them. This enables you to build your resume and application for your first job in HR and succeed in landing it. Good luck!