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Making the move from teaching to HR- seemingly impossible

Hi everyone. 

I have been in secondary education/teaching internationally for over 6 years and have some retail/customer service experience prior to that. Having decided to leave teaching, I am really keen to start a career in HR but I am finding it impossible. I have applied for 20+ HR admin positions with no response. I know I need experience, but how do I go about this without being given a chance? 

Through teaching I was able to get some experience with recruitment/interviewing and I have taken some (free) online courses in HR which I have put on my CV. I have been teaching myself about UK employment law and I am very heavily considering embarking on a MSc in International Human Resource Management. I have looked for volunteering opportunities but there aren't many. 

My questions are: 

1. What's the best way to get experience? Keep applying for HR admin roles or is that a waste of time? Contact the HR departments of large companies directly? 

2. Will employers take more notice of me if I embark on the Masters? Although I am 95% sure that this is what I want to do, I really would like some experience before I jump into this

3. I am in talks with a few recruitment agencies for work. Is this a common route into HR for career changers? I really am not keen on the sales aspect of recruitment, but I will do it for a year if it helps me land a HR admin role. 

4. L & D is also highly appealing to me. Should I be focussing more on that as a route into HR? Is it easier to get an entry L & D role as a former teacher? 

Thank you! 

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  • Hi Alana

    Welcome to the communities

    If you use the search facilities you will find a number of similar threads where people have found it difficult to transition into HR from teaching. Theres this one on transitioning back or this one as a career change or in a similar vein this one but there are several others 

    generally HR is quite tough to get into and there are many threads not linked to teaching such as this one

    Personally I don't think doing a masters in International HR will help you get into HR as it may well confuse some recruiters and make it harder to gain the first position. But sure there are other views on that 

    Recruitment agency work is largely sales driven and doesnt always have the best reputation in HR. Some people find a route into HR from it but its not necessarily the best route.

    Transitioning into L&D may well be a good route.

    Good luck hope you find your ideal starting role

  • I made the transition from working in education into an L&D role, so if you're interested in L&D that might be a more lucrative focus for you in the short term
  • Hi Alana

    I dont have any real advise as such, only to keep going with the applications as I too had no previous HR experience only general admin and call centre work. However, by chance i found my current employer who they were wanting someone to start with the admin and work my way up. I have now just completed my CIPD level 3 and going onto my level 5 next September.

    Sorry I couldn't be of any help, but stick with the applications as there are employers out there wanting people to train there way :)
  • Hi Alana
    There is lots of competition for those entry level HR jobs but no reason you shouldn't be able to get one. To answer your questions one by one:
    1) Yes, contact employers and apply for HR admin roles directly. I see lots of vacancies so you need to look at your CV to find out why you aren't getting the interviews. Are you making it clear you are a career changer so happy to drop down a few levels to establish yourself? Are you making the most of actual admin skills (capabilities in Word, Excel etc, ability to learn new systems, prioritisation, communication, attention to detail and 'customer' skills are all basic requirements). I would mention in your personal statement that to prepare for your new career you have been researching employment law and taking short HR courses, but not actually list the courses under training and qualifications UNLESS they are the free ACAS e-learning courses (most cheap/free HR courses aren't worth the paper they are written on). IF you haven't done the ACAS courses - do them. Also general locally-focused recruitment agencies often get HR admin jobs where they will place general admin people - it's a common route in, so maybe consider getting general admin temping experience first.
    2). no, don't do a Masters. I meet a lot of degree holders wanting to enter HR who think obviously they should do a post-grad as a way in. It won't help you at this stage and may even put employers off. HR is a very practical field, lots of knowledge and skills to acquire that you won't get on a Masters, which focus usually on the high level strategic stuff. Consider doing the CIPD Level 3 - working towards this will make you so much more appealing to employers. There is an L&D version.
    3) working in a recruitment agency very occasionally leads to in-house recruitment roles, but without general HR experience you'd be stuck with that.
    4) CIPD Level 3 L&D course
  • In reply to Julie Dix:

    Were you able to step right into L&D from education easily?
  • In reply to Emma:

    This is promising! :) Who did you do your CIPD level 3 with? Would you recommend them?
  • In reply to Fiona:

    Thank you for the detailed reply. Just registered an ACAS course. Had never heard of this before so thank you for the recommendation!

    I am advertising all of those skills in my cover letters. I was advised recently by a recruiter that HR hiring managers are not giving my CV the time of day because it is full of teaching experience. So I guess I need to keep trying for an entry level role in the hopes that I come across an employer who will take a chance.
  • In reply to Keith:

    Thanks for your reply. Will definitely seek out those L&D roles. And thank you for making me see sense before registering for the masters...
  • I too am struggling to find a role with Level 5 CIPD and several years of experience in general HR. I recently had a recruitment consultant offer me a role where my skills and knowledge of right to work was the only thing that met the job role and that I would "have to be thick skinned as the owner held old fashioned views" needless to say I didn't take him up. Also I have discovered that at one company the HR Director joked "you have more experience and qualifications than me!". I am just trying every Avenue to be honest. There is a role out there, I just need to find it.
  • In reply to Alana:

    Fairly easily, yes, but I think a lot of that was probably luck! The company I'm working for as an L&D Manager hadn't had a dedicated L&D person before so it was a brand new role, and they were really looking for someone to develop the apprenticeship programme, so I emphasised my ability to work with young people and my understanding of the education system as benefits in terms of apprenticeships. I also do a lot of CSR work in the community in local schools through the Careers & Enterprise Company as part of my role, and my education background definitely helps with all of that.
  • In reply to Alana:

    I did my through my college as i thought having a tutor would be really beneficial having only just started working in HR. I did find it hard to think of examples to use in my assignments so the 1-2-1s from my tutor really helped.
  • 1. What's the best way to get experience? Keep applying for HR admin roles or is that a waste of time? Contact the HR departments of large companies directly?

    Yes, keep applying, although your agent is probably right and you should look at re-framing your CV if possible by making a big emphasis on how enthusiastic you are about taking the career step into HR. Keep your CV short and focus only on what's relevant.

    That said, dealing with a rowdy bunch of children is a pretty good preparation for a career in HR...

    2. Will employers take more notice of me if I embark on the Masters? Although I am 95% sure that this is what I want to do, I really would like some experience before I jump into this

    Oh, heavens, no. This forum has seen so many people posting on to say "I have an MA in HRM, why can't I even get an HR admin job??" that it's practically a meme. By all means, set your sights on a Level 7 qualification, but these are largely useless without the actual experience of HR (unless you want to be an academic in the field, then it's practically compulsory to have no practical experience...).

    3. I am in talks with a few recruitment agencies for work. Is this a common route into HR for career changers? I really am not keen on the sales aspect of recruitment, but I will do it for a year if it helps me land a HR admin role.

    If you get into HR you will be dealing with recruitment agencies for the rest of your career, so get used to it now.

    4. L & D is also highly appealing to me. Should I be focussing more on that as a route into HR? Is it easier to get an entry L & D role as a former teacher?

    Almost certainly, yes, assuming you have covered stuff like teaching strategies, learning styles and are au fait with learning processes outside the classroom. However, it is something of a box to fall into. A generalist HR practitioner can usually flex to cover a bit of L&D (albeit without the expertise of a specialist), but a specialist L&D practitioner can only rarely escape the box into generalist HR.
  • Just as a matter of caution (my personal opinion here) I would advise against going for the recruitment agency route. This is the easiest job to get into, and the hardest one to get out of. And certainly won't win you any points with the HR peeps hiring. Like my colleagues said - keep applying and don't feel put off by silence and rejections. 20+ applications is probably something I'd expect to do in 1 day (every day) (in London anyway) and not hear back from 19 of them, so that's not to deter you in any way.
  • Hi Alana

    I would advise you to start looking for temporary/voluntary/apprenticeship administration work as this is what I did to get into HR (indirectly).

    You would be wasting your time and money without gaining any experience beforehand and going for a Masters in a profession you have no experience in whatsoever wouldn't complement your background. It doesn't make logical sense to 'break' into HR.

    Furthermore due to your lack of experience, the Masters would be extremely difficult for you to complete, so I'd suggest you to take a CIPD Level 3 Foundation route.

    Sorry if this isn't what you want to hear, but please understand and take this as constructive criticism as this will hopefully help you break your career into the industry.

    Kind Regards

    Helen

  • Hi Alana
    I spent over 10 years working in retail and a significant number of time trying to transition into HR. What worked for me in the end was networking. There is really huge choice of events to go to and meet people.
    Another way forward that was recommended to me at the time was to approach my own HR department.
    I am not sure whether you are teaching in state or independent education, but my current role is HR within independent education sector. Maybe try approaching big educational groups or trusts and see what they say.
    Hope this helps. Best of luck
    Aga