As a facilitator on the Certificate in HR Practice programme I am often asked for advice on how to get that elusive first job in HR. Many of our delegates come to us because they’ve already made the choice to look for a career in the HR profession & recognise that gaining a qualification is a good step on that path. But what else can you do?
Jobseekers need to stand out from the crowd in today’s tough economic environment. A CV that displays sought-after skills, attributes & achievements will grab the recruiter’s attention. So:
Demonstrate your business awareness:
The modern HR professional is going to have to demonstrate that they are “business savvy” & that they are able to support the business in new ways. Good candidates need to be able to show that they understand the business with detailed research into the company and its environment and that they appreciate what the issues are for them.
Your application should show that you have already researched the company in order to demonstrate this business awareness. Can you show that you understand the industry that the company is in and what the likely issues are? You should be able to do this even if you can’t find out specifics for that organisation.
Develop sought after skills:
Within the HR & L&D world there are always going to be certain skills that companies are looking for. Employment Law is one of these, but other popular skills currently include talent management (getting the best out of our resources), business management practices & the use of technology to support learning.
If you don’t already have experience in these areas, look for ways to develop your skills if you can. Offer to work on projects within your current role that will extend your experience or identify the potential for sideways moves that will provide you with good personal development opportunities. In addition look for suitable courses or qualifications that will enhance your CV, i.e. psychometric testing, employment law or another suitable CIPD recognised qualification. And don’t forget to sign up for on-line updates from Personnel Today, XpertHR & other reputable sources to start building your knowledge & check out your local branch website for details of local events that may be of interest to you.
Gain experience and network:
If you don’t currently work in a HR related role, it can be difficult to demonstrate that you have the skills that are being asked for. If possible offer your services voluntarily. This might be by asking for some unpaid work within an organisation that you believe will provide you with the sort of experience that you are looking for. Alternatively charities often need support and may be able to support unpaid placements.
Join your local CIPD branch and begin networking with fellow HR professionals. Offer to join the committee and get involved in the events that are run locally. These provide a great opportunity to make good links with senior HR people who may be able to help with career development and work experience.
And finally, don't forget to check out the CIPD's own careers advice pages here. Good luck!