Advice for someone struggling to secure their first role in HR

Hello, I'm looking for some advice.

I started my CIPD Level 3 Diploma in February which I am on track to completing and passing in December, I also have a Foundation Degree in Business, which is where my passion of HR came from. Since starting my Diploma I have applied for numerous HR administrator roles in which I have always gotten the same feedback that they really like me, I answer questions well and confidently but when it ultimately comes down to it other candidates have more experience. 

I do have some experience of working in HR as I undertook a work placement as part of my Foundation Degree and I have worked in admin roles for the last 3 years. I was unfortunately made redundant at the beginning of August and have since been able to get a temporary role. 

This has really knocked my confidence and motivation as I feel as though i'll never be able to get a job in HR.

What helped you secure your role?

What do you look for in suitable candidates?

Does anyone have any advice that they could give me? Anything is appreciated.

Thanks in advance, 


  • Hi Emily,

    Try not to be disheartened, you are doing all the right things! It took me a long time to get into HR also, I too faced similar feedback in terms of I answered all the questions well but ultimately they had a more experienced candidate.

    Could you maybe do some volunteering? Or work experience with a HR consultancy?

    I am now an employee relations advisor and have found note taking invaluable!

  • Hi Emily,

    As Poppy has already said, it sounds like you're doing the right things. It's a particularly tough market at the moment due to many being made redundant. Because of this you'll find there are more qualified HR employees going for junior roles (compared to their experience) just to get back into work.

    The best advice I can give is to try and get your level 3 completed as soon as you are able, make sure this is strongly highlighted on your CV, and try to get temporary roles in HR as this will give you a stronger background in HR.

    Other than that, keep your chin up and stay positive. Someone will offer you a role, just keep going.

    Best of luck
  • In reply to Poppy:

    Thank you for taking the time to comment, it is much appreciated. I think I may have to possibly reduce my hours at work and undertake some volunteering. Thank you for your advice!
  • In reply to Chloe:

    It definitely is tough at the minute, I'm trying hard to make sure I am positive and see the best in things. I finish my level 3 in December which I am excited for as I can then focus my efforts on gaining more experience. Thank you for your advice I really appreciate it.
  • Hi Emily,

    It is not easy under normal circumstances to try and get a foot on the career ladder, but at the moment it must be even harder. But please don't give up. I am now in a permanent role as a HR Advisor that started out as a 4 month fixed term contract as a HR Assistant.

    What got my foot through the door was knowing where I could add value - what I could bring to the business - and keep an eye out for the transferable skills.

    Working temp roles shows that you are adaptable and can think on your feet, quick to learn and develop effective working relationships. These are just as important as HR qualifications for getting you through the door.

    Good luck and keep applying - the right role is out there for you
  • Hi Emily, I agree with your
  • Hi Emily, I agree with the other comments that you are on the right track. We have an entry level HR vacancy in a great team if you are in the London area:

  • Emily, for some reason I expect it to be easier to get into entry level HR than other teams because we often recommend and encourage other teams to look beyond the CV, the experience they have, look at their transferable skills, voluntary work, ability to learn etc. We are the same sadly and consistently I hear functions going for experience over potential or ability.

    There are some good tips below. The following might be good options if you can afford to do them: placements, write and offer a 'try before you buy' option, graduate schemes, temporary work or look for short term contracts - these often turn into permanent or can do if you do a great job and give you the experience you might be lacking on the CV.

    I'd also take a look at your CV and think does it showcase my transferable skills to the best of its ability and also focus on the interview practice. How can you show you have the skills even if the work you did to develop them wasn't in HR?

    This might be helpful in overcoming their concerns. A good career coach might worth investing in. I did this when I looked to move into HR from Line and Project Management. It really helped me land that first HR role. Good luck.