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When do you decide that it's better to give up chasing a goal/dream that doesn't seem to be materialising?

I'm really struggling lately, career wise.

Over the years I've invested in myself and my own CPD. I graduated with a BA Honours in Business Studies, and really enjoyed the HR Module, which is why I chose to go down the HR Route. After finishing university I found myself unemployed for 8 months. I originally came from a retail management background. I was lucky enough to secure a part time reception job, my aim was to take on this role purely to fund my Level 3 CIPD qualification which I successfully completed last year. Alongside working this part time job, and studying, I secured a HR voluntary placement in a manufacturing company before I then successfully secured a full time Clerical post in a HR team for a local authority. I have been employed here now for almost 2 years, and I have come to a standstill in regards to learning and developing. My managers are fully aware of how I am currently feeling. I have supported HR business partners on he odd occasion through disciplinaries etc as a note taker, but overall I'm feeling really stuck. I cannot seem to secure a HR role due to lack of experience. I have requested to shadow and get involved with others at work, but unfortunately my requests to do so have been unsuccessful. I am contemplating progressing onto the level 5 CIPD course in hope that his may help my current situation, and hopefully make me look more attractive to employers, however, I worry that the problem will still be the same (lack of experience).

I am stuck in a vicious circle and my question is, are there any other people who feel/felt the same?

And how did you get out of the situation before feeling like it's time to give up and look at other options ?

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  • Hi Kimberley I can totally understand what you are saying here. Just a thought (or a couple actually) given your BA maybe the Level 7 might be more apt for you but you would need to look in to that. Also, would your employer sponsor you then they might have more of a vested interest in ensuring your exposure to development and then progression?
  • I'm not sure I'd agree that a Level 7 course is a good idea for someone yet to secure a role outside of clerical work, and I wouldn't advise pursuing Level 5 at this point.

    The good thing about local authority jobs, though, is that you get a great deal of transferable skills and knowledge. Have you tried looking at other local government institutions within reach of your current home? Many will have their own job websites that you can sign up to for updates when new jobs are posted. Someone with clerical experience within an HR team, with a business degree and a L3 qualification would sound like a shoo-in for an HR Administrator or junior HR advisor role, which would then be a good time to go for that L5 or 7 qualification.
  • Thanks for posting Robey. I have been keeping an eye out for positions in other local authorities. I was lucky enough the get shortlisted last year for a hr role in a local authority which was very close to home. Sadly the feedback I recieved was that I simply did not have enough experience which becomes really deflating over time. This seems to be an ongoing issue at the moment and it's proving difficult for me to secure a hr role. I'm at a loss at the moment I really am.
  • Hi Cass, thank you. I should have mentioned in my post, unfortunately I am fixed term so opportunities for me aren't as great as they are for permanent staff members. There are lots of other people in the department who are also hungry for more who are permanent members of staff.
  • I think what you are describing is a struggle many have (I was there too). Getting the first role that will really get you on the path that you want to get to can be hard and frustrating.
    As Robey said focus on HR Admin roles. I remember feeling very discouraged at some point as it sometimes feels that even for a seemingly entry position the expected work experience seems excessive. Hang in there. The right position is out there for you.
    To me it also sounds like you do have the right experience and knowledge to secure a position. Not sure if this would be helpful but have you done some interview prep/training with someone?
  • Hi Kim,

    I'm in a similar position to you - a little bit stuck! Therefore, I've opted to study towards my L5 CIPD qualification which commences this September. I graduated with a BA (hons) in Business Information Systems and an MSc in Management. I too enjoyed the HR modules and wanted to further develop on this.

    I've been a HR assistant with my current company for 6 years as well as a weekend receptionist at a car dealership for 6 years. I can see and understand that both companies have very different cultures, which I feel I can apply to the L5 qualification. My problem is, I lack the confidence to push myself (jobs etc), but in order to progress, I need to have a little faith in myself hence applying for the L5. Although I'm being pushed to do my L7, I feel that the L5 would ease me gently back in to studying (as it's been 8 years since I did my MSc).

    So, my advice to you is, perhaps study towards the L5 if you want more opportunities. If you have a degree already then you'll be used to assignment writing. The rest will just fall in to place providing you believe in yourself! :) Good luck.
  • Hi Saskia thank you for posting, these posts really do help. Yes I do also think I have lots of skills and experience already for a HR administrator role. HR administration is basically what I currently do although my job title is Clerical Assistant. I do lots in my role which isn't really reflected in my pay or grade (inputting leave of absence, calculating holiday pay, recruitment involving inviting candidates to interview, sending invites, checking sensitive and personal information. I'm the first point of contact for inital queries regarding the flexi policy, and provide support to employees across the HR system (I will advise how to input leave such as phased return, ensuring I always work in line with policies. I did support other teams to process new starters in regards to producing offer of appointment packs and contracts, and sending references although this is something I did for a few days only. I'm pretty confident when being interviewed, and I've had excellent feedback regarding my interview technique. I was told by my current manager how they could clearly see how much preparation had gone into my interview. I tend to use the STAR format at interview which I believe works well. I think the problem is my role is restricting me from doing other HR tasks that are required in other organisations.
  • In reply to Kimberley:

    Is the admin support you provide all HR or different?
    This is so similar of what I experienced. I was in an admin role supporting a decentralized HR Team (they were not allowed by the organisation to use HR in the department title...long story) and Finance.
    What I did was I kept the Job Title as it was but then did sub headings: HR Administration,Finance Administration and listed the different tasks according to the sub headings to make it clearer.
    Not sure if the might be useful for you too. To me you definitely have the right experience to get a HR Admin position.
  • I'm sorry to hear you are feeling like this and although this may not make you feel any better, I'm sure others have felt the same. Whilst I was fortunate enough to be given developmental opportunities in my 1st HR roles, I just couldn't get a promotion in the same organisation even though everyone around me did (I'm just not naturally good at interviews or presenting my strengths and skills) So in the end I found the right role elsewhere. As I've commented before (a previous post from yourself?), I've found large organisations such as Local Authorities good for a variety of HR experience and learning and development opportunities and sorry to hear that you are struggling to get it where you are.
    I've personally stayed in Local Government for some time due to the benefits of continuous service, but means I can maintain that but still go elsewhere for different opportunities. In my own experience I've found it easier to move around in this way as been able to demonstrate an understanding of the political environment etc - having enough transferable skills to get the role, but still have the opportunity to learn and develop in a new role. However I do know with the current state of affairs that Local Authorities etc are struggling financially so arent recruiting or want someone to hit the ground running who is already experienced and there are less opportunities to learn and develop.
    I was provided with a mentor within my team when I was studying my level 5, but is there any chance of being supporting by a mentor through your local CIPD network/group?
    And if you dont mind me asking which area are you are working in (North/South/London)?
    Good luck and don't give up...
  • Hi Kimberley,

    I know how you feel. I have worked as an HR Admin for 3 years and have secured my level 5 CIPD, however, whenever I go to interviews for an HR Assistant Advisor/Junior HR Advisor they say I don't have enough experience. There is no opportunities for advancement in my current employment (my manager has been very honest with me, there are only 2 of us in the department). I get involved in a lot of Advisor responsibilities (being HR support at investigations, etc).

    It seems really demotivating and I completely understand your feelings, but please don't give up! It sounds like you really enjoy HR, just as I do. There will be a role that is perfect for you, it just takes the right role at the right time. Fingers crossed for both of us :)
  • Thanks Katharine, I'm sorry that you are in the same situation but at the same time it's almost comforting to know someone actually understands the situation. I won't lie, its been tough, and I've felt really down in the dumps about it lately to the point where I'm even considering looking for another role outside of the HR field. Would I be silly to do this? It's fantastic you have achieved your Level 5, and I'm so sorry to hear that you are in the same situation even with that qualification. I've been incredibly down in the dumps because of this 'stuck in a rut' feeling, and worry I'l feel worse if I do my level 5 and still be up in the same situation. How have you managed at work? have you told your manager how you feel? And what has been their response?
  • Yes Claire you have commented one one of my posts before, (thanks again!). I have done everything in my power to get as much from my position as possible, but I don't get to get involved in anything. I am obviously aware that there are others within the department who have worked there a lot lot longer than I have, and they too wish to get involved and develop so it's not an issue solely for me. Before this role I was volunteering and absolutley loved it, I was able to carry out presentations for inductions, I lead factory tours and got involved in dismissals. I pushed myself to the limit (I always found it difficult standing and presenting) so this was challenging. Sadly I haven't felt challenged for a long time, and without that feeling, I know I'm not growing. I know that the team in on has high staff turnover, and whilst the fixed term contract is a contributing factor, I think the likelihood is that people wanted to move on to something better maybe.
  • In reply to Kimberley:

    Yes I feel the same, it's nice to know it's not just me. I told her how I felt after completing my Level 5 and she was very understanding but there is not much she can do as there are no job roles at advisor level. There is no way I can do the Level 7 until I get proper advisory experience so I felt I was stuck. My manager has been really helpful since then, involving me in a lot of things and also creates a case study for me to respond to every couple of weeks. She hopes that by developing me this way I will be more than ready for an advisor role when it comes. It sounds like you are more than qualified/experienced for an HR Admin/Assistant post though! Have you thought about mentoring, or finding someone that can help you develop more? Constantly learning new things always keeps my mind busy and keeps me motivated because it is a job I want to do well in the future. What do you think?
  • In reply to Kimberley:

    I've been in HR around 20 years now and even then it was difficult to get into HR and even more so now. I managed to build my way up gradually via Personnel Clerk, Personnel Assistant (shows how long ago!), HR Assistant, Senior HR Assistant, HR Advisor. Not a very common role but I found the Senior HR Assistant a really good step to gain more experience of casework etc.
  • I'm glad that although your manager cannot change the situation, that they are at least helping you get prepared for the next step up, that's really positive.. sadly it's not the same for me, as much as I've explained how I feel, very little has happened. I obviously appreciate that I am paid to do the job I'm in, but it would be so valuable for me to get involved in some HR activities. I spoke to a senior member of staff in HR who has excelled really well in her career, and I explained that it's not necessarily having to 'get involved' as such as I appreciate some things do need to be dealt with by experienced employees, but that even the opportunity to observe would be incredibly valuable to me. For example, when I was asked to be a note taker in the past, I couldn't help but wonder weeks later how the case ended, what the outcome was and how the outcome was made, but sadly I had no involvement at all in that part, but that would have been beneficial to see the be the next stage of an appeal hearing. I have thought about finding someone to help me but this would have to be someone in another organisation first of all, and secondly I'd have to try and find the time as I work Monday-Friday full time. I have even considered asking to reduce my working days and use the extra time to study and find a placement somewhere again. I agree with you about learning, I think the reason I feel so deflated at the moment is because I've stopped working on me. If I was to study the Level 5 I think I would begin to feel more motivated again.