Career Progression to HR Advisor

I have been working as an HR Administrator and have 4 years experience in HR.  I also hold an MSc in HRM and therefore was able to get my CIPD accreditation.  I'm looking to take my career to the next stage but from my job search, there doesn't seem to be many posts that bridge the gap between Administrator to Advisor.  I have been to some Advisor interviews for the experience and practice and although I receive good feedback, it is my lack of formal Advisory experience that leaves me unsuccessful.  Opportunity for such experience is also not a possibility in my current role.  I work full time and have a very young family which makes volunteering my services outwith my job difficult.

My question is, for anyone who has experience of interviewing for HR Advisors, is there anything I can say or do within either my application or interview which would make you take a chance with an inexperienced individual over someone with experience?  Or can you recommend anything that would make me a more attractive candidate to an organisation?

  • Your best bet will be moving to a similar role with a different company/organisation that allows better development opportunities and advancement, the trouble with HR in SME's is that many HR jobs are dead woman's shoes in that they only come available when if they leave or retire.

    Equally, there are plenty of HR Advisors who can't progress from their current roles because they don't have the experience to go higher. I recently did some research on people who graduated from University with an HR Masters about 10 years ago, the present-day there were a couple of HR Assistants, but the majority were HR Advisors and only a couple of HR Managers.

    The only fast track in HR is for those full-time HR students who gain placements spending a minimum of a year as HRBP's,

    I've recently seen one student have a career break during their HR BSc and work in a placement as an HRBP with a major blue-chip company for a year and they have moved onto another placement for a further year with another big name as an HRBP, by the time they graduate with an MSc they will be a HR Director with a large company!

  • I would echo Paul's advice.

    You should look for an administrator role with a smaller organization, where advisory experience is an operational inevitability, or with a more flexible manager who is interested in developing you.

    That is, assuming you've already had a conversation with your current LM to say that you are looking for development opportunities and for more exposure to casework and have been rebuffed. It shouldn't really be a surprise to them that someone with an MSc in HRM is unsatisfied in an administrator role...
  • I have been a HR Assistant for most of my HR career, but I was lucky that as working in a large organisation I was given developmental opportunities and Secondments to gain more experience. However I still didn't have enough experience of casework etc to be successful in gaining HR Advisor roles elsewhere (and if equal it was offered to those with Level 7 qualifications whereas I only had levels 3,4 and 5). I managed to be successful in gaining a Senior HR Assistant role which more recently was renamed HR Advisor to more accurately reflect the role.
  • Hi Lynda,

    I have recently been in your position I was a HR Administrator for 3 years and I have luckily just secured a role as HR Advisor, I agree there is not much scope for an “in-between” role. The best advice I can give is to not give up applying, some companies look at someone with solid HR administration experience.

    Is there any possibility you could shadow HR Advisors at your company now? This is a way to gain some experience to put on your CV.
    Also, I’d try to not focus too much on the job title, but at the role responsibilities, I noted some HR Assistants/Coordinator roles had low level advisory in their job profiles.

    I know it’s tough but keep looking – the right opportunity will come up!

    If you want any more advice please feel free to drop me a message.

  • Thank you for your replies! I have given it real thought over the years to leave and try another organisation but what always stops me is the worry that I would end up in a similar position in a different organisation. On paper, my organisation should be 'big' on training and development but it is more a tick box exercise. I think going forward, I will continue my job search but will keep in mind the job role as well as the title and hopefully something will come along.
  • In reply to Caitlin:

    Hi Caitlin, thank you for your reply - its good to know that you can make the move from Administrator to Advisor! I have asked to at least shadow our advisors for a bit of experience and hopefully this will be approved. I will continue to look for other posts and hopefully the right job comes along! Thanks again for a positive response.
  • In reply to Lynda:

    "On paper, my organisation should be 'big' on training and development but it is more a tick box exercise." For your managers, the fact that you think this/have experienced this should be a cause for concern. Is it worth having a direct conversation with your line manager to discuss your career and how they might help you to progress?
  • Hi Lynda,

    What about an HR Officer role? It depends on the organisation but many HR Officer roles include providing advice on policies and procedures e.g. flexible working/maternity. This would put you in a decent position for an HR Advisor role.

    Quite often it's about finding the right organisation (which is hard to do from the outside admittedly!), as some organisations with smaller HR teams have more crossover and willingness to give development opportunities. Therefore an HR Admin role in a different org could lead to more development than you're getting now. I started as an HR Intern in an HR team of 3, then moved to coordinator before becoming an Advisor (the Advisor role didn't exist when I was an intern). I then moved to a larger organisation into another Advisor role, becoming Senior Advisor and now HR Manager.

    What does your current role include? Do you help out the Advisor/s at all e.g. by note taking in formal meetings, drafting letters etc?

  • I think shadowing other HR staff is a really good first step. Are you able, perhaps as part of your appraisal/PDR/121s with your manager, to have some stretching objectives set which could include that you are first contact for a particular query/problem? What I mean is that you take ownership of the issue/problem with the support and advice from your line manager.
  • Hello,

    You need to be selfish and grab as much as you can from others above you (HR Managers/BP's etc). There will be plenty of organisations out there willing to take on an Assistant for an Advisor role and expect to develop them but they will want to see that you've created opportunities for yourself by grabbing opportunities. Many people will not be interested in developing you at your current place, so you need to demand it to get what you want. Not easy I know, but it will be worth it.