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HR in a start-up- good way to get experience?

Hi All!

I have been toying with the idea of moving into HR for a couple of years now. I have a degree in Management Studies (including HR modules). Following graduation I worked in global mobility/relocation consultancy for 4 years before moving into Customer Success Management at early tech start-ups for the last 2 years.

In an ideal world, I would like to study for my CIPD whilst continuing with my role as Head of Customer Success but approach my CEO and suggest that I implement HR policies etc as I learn more about them (there is currently no HR department). I would then like to use the experience at my current company to then transition into full-time HR assistant role as I've noted from both this forum and job adverts that employers are always looking for some degree of HR related experience before even considering your application. 

Sorry if this question has been asked before- I searched the forum beforehand and couldn't find anything that matched my situation. Also please let me know if you think I'm being naive in thinking that I would be able to implement some key HR processes/policies with only theoretical knowledge from my studies.

Thanks so much!

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  • Hi Charlotte

    You haven't only got theoretical knowledge from your studies, you also have years of experience of being an employee. I think you will find you have the knowledge and experience to make a good assessment of which policy points will be contentious and require careful communication, what the potential pitfalls are and how people generally will react.

    My first job in HR was a standalone role in a little company that had only just got big enough to need HR. Putting everything in place was a great way to learn.
  • I agree - this sounds like a pragmatic and sensible approach. It's also great for your organisation.

    What I would recommend highly is getting a mentor or coach who can help you with the things that will inevitably come up if you start moving into this kind of role in your current firm. It's so useful to have someone who has 'been there' to bounce your thoughts off in confidence - although this forum is excellent for that too!
  • In reply to Elizabeth:

    Thanks Elizabeth! My worry was that future employers would not consider my 'transitional' HR experience enough to warrant offering me a full-time role but it's reassuring to hear that your first HR role was also stand-alone and yes I certainly agree that just general experience of being an employee at a number of different organisations, from very traditional corporate environments to start-ups should hopefully assist me too.
  • In reply to Nina Waters:

    Thank you Nina! I certainly will be taking up your suggestion of finding a mentor. Do you have any top tips on finding a mentor? I understand you can find a mentor through CIPD. Is there anywhere else I should be looking? Thanks again.
  • In reply to Charlotte:

    I've never tried to find a mentor through the CIPD but I'm aware of the service. If that doesn't work, I'd simply do some networking (attending your local group or other network events) and find someone whose advice you'd value and ask - they can only say no. In my experience, most of us like to be asked for our advice about things, so hopefully you'll get a positive response.