Starting a Career in HR: 6 Things You Need to Know
Applying for HR-specific roles has rapidly become the popular choice for those looking to embark on a rewarding and exciting career path into an ever-evolving industry.
When once upon a time the HR function was considered quite bland - mainly consisting of high-piled stacks of paperwork and lots of long-winded sighs - it’s completely transformed in recent years, making a position in HR highly sought after by job seekers.
If you’re someone who’s intrigued by the people profession and you’re considering starting a career in HR, then here are six things you need to know before you get going.
1. You Should Be a People Person
HR professionals no longer work quietly behind the scenes, in fact, they’re now very much a central part of the hustle and bustle at the frontline of any workplace, and while being a people person isn’t a mandatory element to starting a career in HR, it will definitely give you a leg up in your profession.
As an HR professional, on a daily basis, you’ll be interacting with people from all different areas of the business with varying personalities - from new hires to middle managers and even top executives. This means you should be equipped with high-level communication and interpersonal skills to listen and relate to each individual you interact with at every stage of the employee lifecycle.
This ensures that you’ll be able to do your job effectively, optimising each conversation you have by offering the necessary support, creating an all-around better employee experience while adding your own personal and professional touch.
2. There Are Multiple Avenues to Explore
If you’re looking to get into the people profession, you’ll be happy to know that a career in HR isn’t restricted to only one avenue.
While you’ll likely start out in an HR generalist role, such as an HR assistant or administrator, where you’ll acquire a general knowledge base for the broad spectrum of areas under the HR umbrella, as you get comfortable in your new profession you may look to specialise in one or two specific areas of HR.
For example, you may decide to step into a training and development role or choose to specalise in diversity and inclusion, or maybe organisational development and design.
Whatever your fancy, perhaps one of the best things about a career in HR is that it offers a wide variety of career opportunities in line with where your passion for people truly lies.
3. Understand the Reality of HR
The further you work your way up the HR career ladder, the more likely it is that you’ll know about the finer details about the inner workings of the business, and even more so about the personal and professional lives of the people within it.
You might be privy to which individuals are on a performance improvement plan, for instance, or what roles are about to be made redundant. This can make working in HR feel rather isolating, as there will be few people with who you’ll be able to share and discuss this information, especially as your role becomes more senior and you begin to work more heavily with prominent people in your organisation.
In other words, being in HR can often leave you feeling as though you’re in between a rock and a hard place much of the time. On one hand, it creates a lot of opportunities for new working relationships and even new friends, but on the other hand, you need to be prepared to keep much of your exclusive workplace knowledge separate from your colleagues in order to remain neutral and professional while decisions - big and small - are being made.
4. You Need to Be Mindful
Working with a variety of people means that you’ll be working with a variety of different policies, procedures, and - as we mentioned - a lot of unique personalities.
This is why it’s important that you remain mindful, objective, and ethical when dealing with employee-related items, taking into consideration what works best for different sets of employees as issues come up and organisations change.
In doing so, you’ll establish a level of trust and respect from staff and be viewed as someone who truly supports them and someone who is able to make a difference in both the organisation and the lives of others.
The ‘human’ side of Human Resources is, after all, a reference to the human beings that make up an organisation, making it critical to the success of the business - and the success of your HR career - that every employee feels valued at work.
5. Having a Healthy Outlet is Important
Working as a people professional can be exhausting, especially during times when both the economy and the business is struggling, and it can be difficult to put your mental and physical health before work sometimes.
This is why it’s important to have a healthy outlet to release any remaining stress and frustration that builds up for so many of us at work.
These outlets look different for everybody, so whether it’s a long run or simply unplugging on the couch with your favourite book, taking that time to decompress can make a hugely positive impact on your day and each one that follows.
6. CIPD Qualifications are Key to Getting Ahead
The HR industry is rapidly changing and updating its best practices for a post-pandemic world, and as industries make these changes, it’s important for those in HR to be prepared for anything that might come their way in the future.
Whether you’re just starting out in your career or you’re a seasoned HR executive, continual professional development (CPD) is key if you want your skills to remain relevant and if you want to take your career to the next level, as it encompasses what it means to be a truly successful HR professional.
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), for example, offers opportunities for CPD by way of their in-person and online training courses (with providers like us!) for any stage of your career. Their qualifications are designed to give you the in-demand skills and knowledge you need to develop in your field and stand out in a contemporary landscape, and most employers in the UK look for CIPD-qualified candidates for HR roles.
If you're looking for your first job in HR, we recommend gaining the CIPD Foundation Certificate in People Practice to develop the essential skills you need to work in HR.
By gaining a professional qualification, you’ll demonstrate your commitment to your profession, showing employers, colleagues, and peers that you’re eager to explore new opportunities for development and that you’re willing to put in the work to get there.
While HR is still often administrative, it’s now an industry booming with new people professionals ready to strategically manage and positively impact working relationships.
So, if you want an innovative and worthwhile career that will motivate, challenge, and inspire you to reach your full potential, then taking the next step to becoming an HR professional is the right choice for you.
Discover how you can start towards your HR career today with an online CIPD qualification with us. Get your free online CIPD course guide today to get started.
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