Posted on 19th November 2015 by Jon Terry

Launching a Career in HR

Launching a Career in HR

So you have your CIPD qualifications, you have a good strong CV and you have the right sort of positive, can-do attitude that interviewers like. So why can’t you find a suitable job in HR?

Why does everyone notice that you have no official experience in HR and how the hell do you get it if no one gives you a chance? And why is a recruitment consultancy that claims to be a HR specialist not able to do you any favours?

How do you get up and running with a career in HR?

What has gone wrong and how can you get that all important break? Put simply, the answer is that nothing has gone wrong and maybe you just need a change of approach if you are going to launch that HR career.

The Job Hunt

Why is a recruitment consultant unable to help?

When a company approaches a recruitment consultancy with a vacancy they know that if that consultant is successful and finds them the right person then it’s going to cost them. The market has changed but it is still going to be a fee of 10-16% of basic salary and so for an entry level salary of £16-£22k that is going to be £1600-£3520 before they even start paying the salary.

Not a huge amount of money but for an individual with no track record in HR or learning and development it might well be viewed as something of a risk. Will they really want to pay that for an individual that they know for definite will need to be developed and trained?

In our experience as a specialist HR Recruitment Consultancy if they are going to pay that sort of fee the chances are that they will want to see some experience and they will want to know that you’ll be able to hit the ground running.

So more likely they will try and recruit on their own directly. That development and coaching investment  is a lot easier to justify if there is no recruitment fee to pay.

So, how can you adjust your approach to launching your career in HR?

  • Rather than knocking on every recruiters door, knock directly on companies doors.
  • Keep a closer eye on adverts where a named business is recruiting under its own logo rather than through a recruitment consultant.
  • Approach those organisations near to you that have a human resources shared services model where they are used to taking on high volumes of HR administrators and developing them (your friends and CIPD tutors should surely be able to suggest the sort of organisations who do this).
  • The companies who are doing direct sourcing have spent time, effort and money on proper talent acquisition and social media so go and have a look at Twitter and Facebook as they will be keen to engage you through them.
  • Alternatively you may want to look at almost the opposite end of the spectrum. Think about those organisations that might be a bit old fashioned in their recruitment  tactics. They’ll be similarly opposed to paying for a recruiter's fee but rather than Twitter they’ll be possibly posting adverts in local newspapers or for free on GumTree or similar.

But it’s not the perfect job!

There is a chance that the job you find is not perfect. In the shared service model you may well find yourself becoming frustrated by the lack of breadth of experience that you are getting. You wanted to be an HR specialist and you’re part of a HR production line and only dealing with starters and  leavers.

But it is all valuable experience and means that in six to twelve or even eighteen months time you can be applying for those jobs where experience and ‘exposure to X or Y’ is so important.

Experience is key

Assume this works and you are now in work as a HR administrator and doing OK. It is still not a career though, instead it is a foot in the door and you need to grab every bit of experience that you can.

Put your hand up whenever you can to get exposure to whatever you can. You want to be the person in six to twelve or eighteen months time who can convincingly say at an interview, “Yes I was involved with...” or “this is the Policy that I researched and developed and presented to the HR Director”. And if that doesn’t work? Remember, “Experience is Key” so see if you can’t find it elsewhere.

For example:

  • Voluntary Work
    Can you go and volunteer your time and knowledge to local charities, social clubs or similar? You’ve got some knowledge so why not give up one day a week in return for exposure to projects around return to work or policy development or rewriting standard documents?
  • Working for Friends & Family
    Do you know someone in a small business somewhere who could utilise your skills and give you a chance to gain some experience?

Don’t be too hard on yourself

If you have been looking for your ideal job for a while then it’s highly likely that you have had plenty of rejections and a lot of constructive feedback on CVs and interviews. Try not to be too downhearted and over critical of yourself or recruiters. Remember it is a very competitive marketplace and there are a lot of other people in the same situation as you.

  • Use the constructive feedback but don’t over-analyse it and don’t start to make assumptions about the next job. If you find yourself saying “I don’t suppose you’re going to be interested in my CV or application because I haven’t got…” then you need to change that mindset. Every job is a new opportunity and the candidate who approaches things positively is much more attractive to a prospective employer!
  • If you get a knock back don’t start complaining about a flawed process (yes it might have been one) but consider instead that there were probably a number of credible candidates and it won’t have been an easy decision for the hiring manager. Think now about how positive you sound by saying something like. “I am disappointed but I hope the person who got the job does a good job for you… please do remember me and my application if another role comes along as I remain really positive about the role and your business”.

And overall...

Remember you are after a career in HR. A career is defined as "an occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person's life and with opportunities for progress". The next job you take is just an opportunity to kick start things but it is up to you to develop a career!

When can a recruitment consultant help?

Once you have gained suitable experience within human resources and are looking to take that step towards becoming a specialist in your field it’s time to engage a specialist HR recruitment consultant.

Remember, companies looking to recruit for high-calibre roles will be happy to pay to find their ideal candidate. An experienced recruitment consultant will have an extensive database of suitable roles in HR and will be able work alongside you to help you find and obtain your ideal career.

Wright Solutions have over fourteen years experience in the HR sector and work personally to provide high-calibre candidates for specialist roles in human resources and learning and development.

Please feel free to call us on 0121 222 5599 for an informal discussion or send us an email to

Jon Terry

By Jon Terry

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