Difficulty in getting my first HR job in the UK

Prior to moving to the UK in July 2019 to join my husband, I worked as an HR Assistant with the Marist Brothers of the Schools, Province of Nigeria. After I arrived UK, I research on career prospect for HR, that was how I knew of CIPD. With the advice I got from ICS Learn students' advisor and having a bachelor's degree and an experience in HR, I started my CIPD level 5 course in January 2020, and worked as a carer too. I have been job hunting since January 2021 and was able to secure only 2 interviews which weren't successful after the second round of the interviews, with no obvious reason for the rejection ( I always ask for feedback so I can improve in my job search). I am as well keeping an eye on voluntary work in HR, but haven't even seen any. Please I need advice and suggestions on how I can surmount this devastating stage in my career journey. I have completed my CIPD level 5 course now and upgraded to associate member of CIPD without a job.
  • Unfortunately, there are a lot of us looking for HR roles. I am L5 CIPD and have had a number of different HR roles over the last few years. It is hard and you have to keep plugging away at it. I am certain of getting another HR role at some point. It is rather disheartening, but keep at it.
  • Hi and welcome to the communities. I'm really sorry to hear about the difficulties you are facing in your job search. As Jules points out this has been a regular complaint from many other community members who have experienced the same uphill struggle to find any HR role and I also echo the same sentiment, it took some time for me to find my first HR role but it did happen. Although you state you have had only 2 interviews I think there are some positives with this. Yes really! Your job hunting has taken up the past 6 months or so during a time when the job market has been facing unprecedented challenges so while it would be encouraging to have more interview invitations I would be more concerned if there had been none. You have certainly been doing something right! There are a couple of things you can do: one is to do a search for historic threads on this forum from other members who have struggled to find their first role and see what the community suggested. The other is to look through the careers section of this website to see what guidance they offer to best present your applications and make some plans for your job hunt. Link is: https://www.cipd.co.uk/careers
    Good luck. :-)
  • thank Clare, I'm grateful for this
  • Hello Ogochukwu, I completed my CIPD studies while I was on maternity. When I decided to return to work, I started to look for HR jobs. I also registered with two recruitment agencies, and I was lucky enough to get a HR job via them! It's worth trying every platform. Hope you'll secure a place very soon. Wish you all the best in your job search!
  • thanks suzsanna. Please do you mind sending me links to the recruitment agencies
  • It must be very frustrating to be in this situation, when you have skills and experience in HR that you can offer - you just need the opportunity to demonstrate it.

    Your written English is (understandably) not as fluent as someone who has it as their first language. This could be a barrier to you securing an interview, as the recruiter will only have your written application in front of them when shortlisting - so won't appreciate your other strengths in the same way as in person.

    If you don't already, I would advise asking someone to read and amend your covering letters or personal statements, to make sure there is nothing that should be changed. It's not the most important part of HR, but equally good written communication skills are usually a criteria that employers will look for, in relation to an HR role.

    I'd also advocate for the charity Smart Works here - an organisation that supports women who are out of work with a personal dressing session and interview coaching, to help prepare for an interview. I volunteer for them to provide interview coaching, and can see how much their support helps people. It's entirely free (and includes an interview outfit, and clothes for when you start work) - I think you need to be referred in by an agency, but if you're based near any of their centres, I'd strongly recommend accessing their services.

    Hope that helps.

  • Hi Nina, thanks for the advice. I will look up for the charity organisation and see how I can get in touch with them
  • I got a feedback today from one of the organisations I interviewed for, it's really nice knowing where I need to put efforts in.
  • Hi Ogochukwu, you may like to look at this post which refers to some part time HR work, might help with gaining a little experience: www.cipd.co.uk/.../volunteering-role
  • Hello, you should search for agencies in the area you live at. I used One to One Recruitment and Bridge, they're both in York and lovely people. Good luck.
  • Thanks Clare. This is so helpful
  • Hi Suzanna, thanks so much.
  • Good luck Ogochukwu, breaking into your first role at a certain level and in a new country as well can be tough. Having two interviews and getting to second stage seems promising too even though it's disappointing to not get the role. As a numbers have given advice below I'll echo some of it and build on it:
    *register with some agencies and use conversations with them to practise your sales pitch - what you do, your transferable skills and experience and what you are looking for.
    *look at job sites, register with them and practice searching.
    *make sure you have a good, searchable Linked In profile so agencies and in-house recruiters can find you.
    *check out the CIPD mentoring service. It might be you can access this to help you.
    * go along to the CIPD branch events to build up your confidence to talk HR and talk about yourself.

    Continue to ask for feedback and make use of the people you met on your course who can keep your spirits up and perhaps read over CVs and draft emails for you. They might be able to pick out if your style or approach needs to take account of a slightly different cultural context. I've not been to Nigeria myself so I'm not sure how we compare to workplaces there.

    Keep going. Rejection is tough at any stage of our careers especially when we are doing all we can to be prepared and ready for work. Keep asking for feedback, learning and eventually you will land that new role.
  • Hi Ogochukwu! I was in a same situation for year or so, But then I started volunteering and after 7 months of volunteering with 3 organisations simultaneously, I got 2 jobs offers. Currently Iam working as HRBP. Please make a volunteering profile at Reachvolunteering.org.uk for me it was a game changer. All the best.