Charles Goff-Deakins reviews his journey from goat farmer to Senior HR Officer with our CIPD Level 3 Certificate.

I remember the feeling of excitement when I enrolled onto the CIPD Level 3 Certificate course at the beginning of 2016 through ICS Learn, and it was very similar to the excitement of completing it nine months later. I had just signed up to an online learning course and taken my first step to being a qualified HR professional.

My path to HR was a long-winded and meandering one! It was only after a very wide spectrum of various jobs that I discovered the HR profession.

My working life began, not in any corporate environment, or even in a ‘people’ job. My first job was on a goat farm as a farm assistant and consisted all the glamourous shovelling duties one might expect.

 I was about 15 and worked there for a couple of weeks during the school holidays and from there, my career path went through an assortment of roles: shop assistant; telesales agent; crepe maker; till operator; café supervisor; artist; administrator; accounts supervisor; and then to a role that changed my career path/life.

I was hired to be a data controller in an employment law consultancy, and one of my roles consisted of recording incoming ET1 forms. I had to read the nature of the case and record it on the system, and this essentially exposed me to the world of HR.

I was hooked. It got to the point where I’d keep an eye on a case’s responding ET3 once the paralegal had written it up (which I also had to record) just to see how the claim panned out!

From there, a year later, I took a big pay cut to take an entry-level HR generalist role, a perfect way to see the whole breadth of HR, and wanted to earn a CIPD Level 3 Certificate to help me get up to speed.

Having experienced online courses before, I knew this was the approach I wanted to take for CIPD; as I worked full time and I was funding my own CIPD course, I couldn’t take time off so studying online was perfect for me.

After shopping around for course providers, it was very clear to me that ICS Learn was the best option for me. I read reviews, success stories and the competitive monthly instalment amounts before enrolling.

My only reservation was the self-discipline required to study at my own pace. However, once I started, I quickly developed a habit of studying at specific times of the day and week. It helped that the subject was interesting!

I thoroughly enjoyed the course – it was paced appropriately and yet was still stretching enough to get a real sense of accomplishment when I completed each chapter.

The weekend workshop was a lot of fun too*. I had an option of a couple of venues and dates so I could attend the workshop that suited me, and although my online tutor provided amazing support for me over the phone or email throughout the course, it was great to see a tutor in person during the workshop weekend. Her passion for the industry really shone through and made the workshop that bit more energetic.

I completed the course in late 2016 and then four or five months later I got a new job, my current job, as Senior HR Officer, which increased my salary by 50%. Although I had the relevant experience, I wouldn’t have got the job if I didn’t have the CIPD qualification.

After completing the course, I immediately applied for associate membership of the CIPD, so now I can proudly add the post-nominals ‘Assoc CIPD’ after my name. 

I couldn’t be happier where I am now, specialising in HR policy in the HR strategy team, and I now also write for HR Zone (a website that posts articles on HR topics) and for my own blog The Avid Doer (about career management and development).

I would thoroughly recommend studying through ICS Learn to anyone who wants a CIPD qualification but wants the study to work around them and their lifestyle.


Inspired by Charles’s story? Find out more about studying CIPD online.


*Please note that the CIPD Level 3 Certificate in L&D is now delivered 100% online.