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Returning to HR - advice sought

Following a numbe of years away from working directly in HR, I am looking to return to an operational HR role.  My work inbetween has been general management, employer forums and I have kept up to date with HR employment legislation and E & D in the workplace.


I am considering updating my skills to make me more marketable and wonder if anyone has any views on what short course might be worthwhile. I would also be willing to do short non-paid work.


Any ideas most appreciated!

  • Elizabeth

    | 1337 Posts

    Chartered Fellow

    25 Nov, 2015 19:45

    Hi Mary
    I had to make that transition a number of years ago and it wasn't easy but I did make it in the end. As you have already identified, it is key to get across that you have kept you knowledge up to date - you just can't make this too obvious in your CV and covering letter - and to draw out any parts of your general management experience that were HR-related. There isn't a specific short course I can think of that would be worthwhile. Do you attend your local CIPD branch meetings? That might be helpful both to offer as further evidence of keeping your knowledge current but also to network
  • Keith

    | 8887 Posts

    Chartered Fellow

    25 Nov, 2015 21:31

    Mary I agree with Elizabeth that a simple short course isn't what an employer would be looking for. If I were interviewing you I would be looking for the narrative explaining your journey and how credible that was.

    In short why you started in HR, why you moved away and why now is the right time to move back. If that's believable and credible I would give you a chance , if it didn't add up then any amount of short courses (or even experiences) wouldn't matter
  • In reply to Elizabeth:

    Many thanks Elizabeth, that is very helpful and encouraging to know that you have made it work for you.
  • Mark

    | 112 Posts

    Chartered Member

    26 Nov, 2015 20:28

    Hi Mary,

    Yes I agree with the others, I've recruited various HR staff over the last couple of years to work with me in a few different industries, short courses wouldn't be high up on my radar although keeping up to date with employment law would be impressive.

    Elizabeth's suggestion regarding CIPD branch meetings is great, I would be impressed with that as a recruiting manager, although I would broaden that out for other HR events, with recruiters, forums, ACAS, legal briefings etc. That would demonstrate to me an ongoing and active desire to get back into the HR profession.

    A point of caution, you mention you are looking for an operational HR role but don't mention where abouts in terms of position (assistant, business partner etc) that you seek so I apologise if i've read this wrong, but do consider re-entering the profession at an introductory HR position to keep your options open.

    Mark
  • Elizabeth

    | 1337 Posts

    Chartered Fellow

    27 Nov, 2015 11:00

    In reply to Mark:

    Hello again Mary
    Another thing that helped me was that I had stayed in contact with a couple of senior people from the organisation where I had previously held an HR role and they gave me feedback on my CV. I also got feedback on how I came across in interviews from a recruitment consultant. Unfortunately I have to say that there were some roles I applied for that looked an exact match for my skills and I didn't even get an interview, so you really have to learn to shout about keeping your skills current in your CV and covering email. When you describe your current role, major on any recruitment etc you did and play down or omit the main, non-HR duties. When I did get a got offer, it was for a more junior position than the last HR position I had held, but it wasn't very long before I started to get more responsibility and - we all have to live :) - a salary increase.
  • Hi Mary, I'm not sure if you qualify for this but there is a career support service offered by the CIPD plus an online Career Hub. 'Phone: 020 8612 6208 to check your eligibility but they may be able to offer additional support/resources. Good luck with this!
  • In reply to Mark:

    Thank you Mark (and Elizabeth too) ... this is all very helpful.
  • This is very helpful. I took a career break for 2 years to work with local communities as an interpreter/translator and i have found returning to HR to be very challenging. I have had a few interviews but no offer yet.

    I Would appreciate any advise to help with the transition back to working as an HR Advisor.

    Many thanks...
  • In reply to Matilda Adwoa Afra Dompreh:

    Hi Matilda, if doing some voluntary work is a possibility I recently created a thread with details of various resources which may help, the link for the thread is: www.cipd.co.uk/.../58265
    If you have any difficulties in locating this thread please let me know.
  • Hi Mary,
    I returned to HR last year, after some 8 and a half years away pursuing a career I'd thought of since I was a child - which ultimately turned out not to be where I wanted to stay. I didn't really even have the benefit you have of staying abrest of employment legislation, but I managed to re-enter the profession with a manager who was willing to take a chance on me, a keenly edited CV to showcase skills (from when I last worked in HR, and from the time in the role after) and lots of interview preparation and enthusiasm. After thriving in that role for nearly 12 months I moved into a more senior HR position within the company earlier this year, and am now (finally) getting myself professionally qualified at the same time as working in a fast paced HRBP role. The sky is your limit, don't be disheartened by rejections and just keep plugging away - you will succeed eventually.
  • In reply to Clare Marie:

    Thank you very much Clare Marie,i will look it up...
  • Elizabeth

    | 1337 Posts

    Chartered Fellow

    26 Dec, 2015 09:44

    There is one other thing worth pointing out:

    Right now your time out of HR seems like a barrier to get over. Once you have made the transition and are back in the field it will stop being a barrier and start being an advantage. Experience outside the profession can enrich your HR practice but more importantly it can also make you more promotable and a better fit for more senior roles.

    BTW, I am not saying it is right that it is the case, but it is the case. The most senior roles in HR sometimes go to people who are managers, leaders and business people first and HR professionals second or not at all. I don't think this happens to other professions; I can't imagine anyone getting an FD role who came from outside Finance. It is something I have observed and I believe there is research to support this. It seems to me to suggest that boards do not generally see HR professionals as having specialist, high-level knowledge, and the specialist knowledge that we are actually recognised to have (dismissing people without come back being a top fave) is not seen as a board-level skill.
  • Mark

    | 112 Posts

    Chartered Member

    30 Dec, 2015 10:33

    In reply to Elizabeth:

    I too have seen some 'non-HR' professionals act in senior level HR positions (to varying degrees of success) but only for temporary periods of time, in acting capacities, so I agree that this occurs, but haven't personally experienced this happening beyond anything other than temporary. Not disagreeing with Elizabeth's point, just sharing my own personal experiences.

    I also agree that those with skills gained outside of the HR profession have helped those who have returned to HR, or commenced a career in HR after a previous field. Particularly those who have acted in leadership roles in broader business positions, or those who have previously operated as trade union representatives becoming HR professionals.
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