A Career In Human Resources
Many people find the idea of a career in Human Resources appealing; the idea of working with people, of connecting talented individuals to the right opportunities, seems dynamic and exciting.
Plus, jobs in HR tend to come with higher than average salaries and good benefits, making them a very viable longterm career choice.
The process of breaking into the field, however, can seem a bit cryptic!
HR has always had a reputation for being difficult to break into, even if you have a degree in the field, and today—with outsourcing and the impacts of the recession still being felt—getting into HR can feel harder than ever.
In order to change careers and break into HR in today’s economy, you can take the following steps:
Get some form of relevant education
The days when people more or less “fell into” HR are pretty much over.
Today, you will need a degree of some kind, but if you do not have a four-year degree in Human Resources specifically, do not panic. A multitude of degrees in related fields—such as in personnel, business, or even psychology and sociology—can be applied to HR. People professionals are known for having diverse educational backgrounds. If you have education that is pertinent to communication skills (such as an English degree) and/or working with people, you can probably apply that to getting into HR.
Reframe your experience to look relevant to HR
These days, a lot of small businesses are having their managers perform HR duties, so management experience is becoming increasingly applicable to getting into the people operations.
Take a look back over your career thus far and examine areas where you managed people, or any times you were responsible for things like hiring decisions, and play them up on your resumé. Administration experience is a huge feather in your cap when it comes to getting into the traditional HR department.
Get experience that can become relevant to HR
If you have an applicable degree but no applicable experience yet, consider spending some time in a related field. As mentioned above, management is a viable option, but there are others, such as working at a recruitment agency for a while, or as a career counsellor or benefits provider.
There are also applicable roles within employee assistance program providers, background screening companies, and more—get creative and look around, there are lots of jobs available in which the screening, interviewing, and managing of people are core features.
If you cannot get relevant experience on the job, consider volunteering with non-profit organizations in an HR capacity. There are quite a few non-profits that are specifically dedicated to, for example, connecting the unemployed or homeless with jobs.
Such skills are very relevant to HR positions, and your willingness to help others will also show you to be a “people person”, something that is sought after in HR professionals.
Network, network, network
Networking is important when you are trying to get into just about any field, but it is vitally important when getting into HR. In most cities, the HR community is a tight-knit one, and knowing the right people is key to getting into the field.
Likewise, people operations professionals look for those with good networking skills, as such abilities are a core facet of being good at HR.
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