Work Experience

I am just about to complete a CIPD Level 3 Certificate in HR Practice, however I do not have any actual work experience in HR yet.

Could someone please provide advice on the best way to gain work experience (even if unpaid) in either HR or at least within an 'office' environment.


  • Hi Jack,
    Are you studying through a college? If so they should have an employability section that should be able to assist. If not I would suggest looking for volunteer roles in a sector you are interested in, but particularly the charity sector. For example, I am Head of HR for a charity in Cambridgeshire and would welcome a volunteer HR practitioner for as many hours a week that an individual was willing to give - I have many and varied projects that could be given to a volunteer as well as the opportunity to get involved with my team's day-to-day tasks depending on the volunteer's interests. I wouldn't be the only one 'out there' that would be able to facilitate some volunteering so I'd suggest having a look at some charities that might interest you and send them an email with your CV.

    Good luck!
  • Hi Jack, reinforcing Susan's excellent suggestion about voluntary work in the Charity sector I started this thread a while back, can't guarantee the accuracy but worth a quick peruse:

    Additionally, please check out the Careers section on the CIPD website for some careers advice: https://www.cipd.co.uk/careers

    And finally, please do a quick search for historic threads on this topic as it does crop up occasionally. Good luck with the studies and your hunt for some suitable work. :-)
  • Thanks Susan and Clare for your advice.
    What is your opinion on actively approaching small businesses to see if they have kind of work experience available?
  • In reply to Jack:

    Hi Jack,
    Similarly to you I tried to contact various companies late last year to gain voluntary experience within their HR department when starting my Masters but found it a real struggle with the majority turning me down and a few seemingly interested but then not coming back to me. I think it can be difficult to get experience as I imagine most departments are concerned over volunteers coming in due to data protection etc?
    But best of luck with your search - there will be something out there!
  • Thanks for the replies. Can anyone recommend any particular charities or non-profit that people have found voluntary work with in the past, especially those based/operating in South West England?
  • In reply to Jack:

    Hi Jack, I work for the Wildlife Trust (Beds, Cambs, and Northants) and I would take a volunteer in a heartbeat. While I can't speak for them, I expect that the HR Managers of the Trusts in your region (there are quite a few) would be similarly interested. www.wildlifetrusts.org/find-wildlife-trust
    Good Luck!

  • In reply to Susan Harling:

  • Anyone in Hampshire, I've got this volunteer post in Winchester pmjobs.cipd.co.uk/.../, To be honest someone with experience will get a lot more out of the role, however, anyone without experience can still apply, but anyone who thinks volunteering is a quick fix to finding a full-time job will be disappointed!
  • In relation to some of the posts on here about their being 'Data Protection Issues' involved in HR volunteering, does anyone have advice on getting more 'generic' office experience'.

  • In reply to Jack:

    Hi Jack, same as the advice I gave about HR volunteering - contact some charities around your area (including the Wildlife Trust) and ask. Re the 'Data Protection Issues' in HR volunteering....not sure what those would be. For example, if I was to take on an HR volunteer he/she would undergo the GDPR training that all inductees do, plus I'd also do some 1:1 training with that person prior to them having access to any staff data - fairly simple really. Of course, if you were to be accessing under 18s data, you would need to be DBS checked and have that training too - but working with under 18s is a different thing to main-stream HR so far as I'm aware.