Starting out in HR with CIPD qualification

Hi there, I am a few months away from completing my CIPD foundation certificate and I would like to start applying for jobs once I have completed this. The problem is I have no HR experience and most jobs look for this - my background is largely in customer service so there are transferable skills - however any advice on how to gain experience would be most welcome. I currently work for a bank so there are opportunities for job shadowing; would this be enough or is there more I should be doing? There's only so much experience you can get without having the job itself!



  • Hi Wendy, I’m in a similar boat myself, I’m due to complete my foundation course in February and have been applying but finding I’m hearing nothing back. Rather frustrating as everywhere I apply wants experience. I’ve just suggested volunteering one day a week in a HR department to my course tutor who has said this is a good idea and I’m currently trying to sort that out but I would too like to know more about how to get in at an entry level position.
  • It's a common problem and therefore a common question, Wendy (welcome to the forums, by the way). So do have a browse to find further suggestions and wisdom.

    In my experience, though, it's all about how you frame your experience against the job spec. You're unlikely to find an HR administrator role looking for extensive HR casework experience, for example. These roles are more likely to look for general administration experience and some HR knowledge.

    Unfortunately, having an HR qualification can sometimes work against you in such entry-level roles as recruiters can tend to think of you as over-qualified (horrible expression) or assume that you won't stay for long and will want to advance as soon as you have some of that treasured HR experience.

    If you are aiming higher, for an HR Advisor role or similar, then yes, some practical experience would be very useful. There are very few companies that will accept volunteers in their HR department in a way that will give them real exposure to HR casework (because this tends to be confidential, so one doesn't tend to want to involve volunteers). Job shadowing - if there are such opportunities - are a great alternative if you're in such a place.

    When I got back to HR after a six-year hiatus, I was able to find a temporary role in local government (a lot of third-tier local government bodies run temporary placement schemes that are a terrific way back into the market for those returning from a career break of one for or another) where I went from being a policy/admin person to handling casework within a month or so.
  • In reply to Robey:

    Thanks for the advice Robey - it's always useful to hear someone else's perspective!
  • In reply to Amy:

    I know, it's a vicious circle - you need experience to get a job, but a job to get experience!
  • In reply to Wendy:

    Hi Wendy,

    I am in a similar situation. I have worked for a bank in an Operational role for 11 years and was made redundant. I was unhappy for the last two years in banking but stuck to it due to financial reasons (which has thankful enabled me to buy a home!)

    Now i'm applying for HR Assistant roles and i know that i will have to start with entry level jobs (which i am happy to do). Its frustrating that even though i'm so enthusiastic with a lot of admin experience behind me i'm not hearing back from any employers.

    I must have applied for over 50 jobs and nothing yet. I'm thinking i will have to hope that i find an admin role in a company and work my way in to HR.

    I wish i would have realised that HR was for me sooner than i did but hindsight is a great thing!

    Wondering if anyone on this thread had any advice on what i could do to stand out.
  • In reply to Robey:

    Struggling to secure HR advisory role with my minimum experience. Help!
  • Johanna

    | 0 Posts

    Community Manager

    25 May, 2018 09:34

    Hi Wendy - job shadowing at the bank alongside the HR team would be extremely valuable experience, well worth pursuing that if you can. Do you have an internal comms person too? That's another avenue that would give you valuable insight around staff engagement, understanding of strategy, values, culture and well-being initiatives etc. We also have a careers section on the CIPD website which it is worth exploring. For example here is a ten step guide to job hunting www.cipd.co.uk/.../ten-step-plan-for-job-hunting and some career stories here: www.cipd.co.uk/.../career-stories
  • In reply to Wendy:

    I would focus on opportunities within the bank -initially