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How did you get your first HR role, what was it, and was it voluntary or paid?

I currently have not long finished my course before the lockdown started, I passed with flying colours. The college were supposed to place us in a placement, but that bit never happened because of the lockdown. I have offered loads of unpaid work but no paid work. How did you all start off? My problem is this, unpaid work does not pay the bills, in addition to having a disability I am unable to go to work that is beyond my local city! How did everyone else start off their career? What made you chose HR for a career?
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  • I started off being placed by an agency into temporary HR roles, which tended to turn into permanent ones. Do you have any local agencies who specialise in placing into HR?
  • Have you thkught of jlining yoir loc beanch committee. It is excellent channel for anyone entering HR
  • I started off in a general admin role 2 years ago at a fairly small company who did not have an HR function at the time. We've really rapidly expanded (in both headcount and region) since I've been here & I secured a position as HRBP one year ago as we hired a VPHR and officially formed our (small!) HR team.

    Starting out by having a really thorough understanding of the business model & departments, taking on additional responsibilities 'above my pay grade' at the time and becoming the go-to person for any people related queries set me up for my role, and the company also funded me through my L3 and L5 which I'm extremely grateful for.

    I do, however, believe that I was extremely lucky to be in the right place at the right time and this massively helped me. But if you can get into a company in a different role that maybe relates to HR (ie Payroll Admin, working in comp & bens etc) and prove that you are capable and committed, I think it will massively set you above external applicants and give you more opportunities internally than you will get job hunting for specific HR roles
  • Steve Bridger

    | 0 Posts

    Community Manager

    21 Jan, 2021 14:39

    Good question, Niki.

    I like to signpost these previous threads. Some humdingers.

    How did you get into HR/ get your first role? (2018)

    Working in HR? If you could start again, would you? (2017)
    Over 85,000 views and 70+ comments. Some great stories.

    How did you get into HR?
    An old thread (2010) so dated, but again... with 70+ comments and 62,000 views

  • Hi Niki

    I started off temping in an HR office in the NHS (after many years of admin work). I moved into NHS recruitment after that, then into an NHS supervisor position, then ended up in a much higher paid but dead-end Office Manager role. During this last role, I did my Level 5 and considered every piece of HR experience I'd had and used this to make an application for a HR Advisor role which I got 6 months later. I was promoted during lockdown to the Manager role which is terrifying but exciting.

    For me, there was no other career choice. I didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up but found my answer at the gentle age of 53 - an HR professional.

    I suggest, as others above have, to start through a recruitment agency and build up your HR experience to get a more permanent role. Good luck!
  • Hi Niki,

    I understand your struggle, after graduating I really struggled to find a job. Similar to some comments below I went through an Agency on a temp-perm job and ended up staying with the Company for two years before progressing elsewhere.

    The best piece of advice I can give you is to keep looking, keep applying and not to be disheartened at not finding a job immediately, it is a tough market out their especially within the current climate. The right opportunity will come along, I think the best thing to do is to look at all opportunities that are out there- whether this be a fixed term, temporary or part time job (And even not always in HR- look at office admin/ payroll/ recruitment- they all have a dotted line to Hr somewhere). I do think at the start of any career it is about building experience more so I would say than having qualifications, so keep an open mind to the job market.

    Keep yourself up to date with legislation, seek some courses in HR practise from online and keep your CV up to date with anything you feel relevant, and of course be patient- the right job will come by I am sure :)
  • I started off in as a ‘HR & OD Support Officer’ for a local authority. The JD (and pay) were reflective of a very basic admin role (basically taking minutes and filing) but the role was a lot more than that in reality and I learnt a lot, so I stuck it out for 10 months and moved into a HR Advisor role and then 18 months after that into a HR Business Partner role. Unfortunately the market is swamped at the moment with experienced HR professionals who have been made redundant due to Covid-19, but don’t give up! You will find something eventually.
  • In reply to Wendy:

    Hi I'm looking to move into HR from senior Business management and looking for a buddy would anyone have any pointers? Many thanks
  • I applied for 67 jobs before I got my first break in HR I too have a disability limiting my options. I chose HR because I was sacked for having a brain tumour from a senior role in local government environmental enforcement. The whole experience was horrendous as I took my case to a tribunal, my solicitor told me that I was in the wrong job and I would be good in HR , and I didn’t want anyone to be treated the way I had been at work . The thing I love about HR is we move things out of the way to improve the employee experience
    Your disability will stand you in good stead to advise managers on supporting employees with disabilities and you will be able to relate to reasonable adjustments and empathise with employees. I can highly recommend a job in the nhs, maybe an admin role to start with, and then opportunities present themselves. The nhs is a flexible and supportive employer and now more than ever we are working remotely in HR. As a disabled person Covid has changed my experience , before Covid I could never go to regional or National events. Cipd branch meetings were always at a place easy to reach for car drivers. But now I have met more of my peers and I am more connected than ever. NHS jobs can be found on web based system called Trac While you are looking for a role there are loads of free HR events on EventBrite CIPD branch meetings all over the place, and the CIPD website has so many free resources to support your development . Good luck with your journey, and if you find a role access to work will support with funding equipment you may need to help put you on a level playing field with your colleagues who don’t have a protected characteristic,
  • I got my break into HR after a long career as a PA in property investment in the West End of London. I had two children and took a job in a local supermarket filling shelves in the evening. It was a complete shock, but once my children were settled in school, I made sure that I got trained on every department and made sure the Store Manager and his boss knew I wanted a role in the office. Eventually they gave me 20 hours a week and I flourished. I took on the charity role as well, became the name that everyone associated with the shop and was known as Mrs Sainsbury's for a while. I never turned an opportunity down to learn a new area, unfortunately, the HR function in stores was made redundant, but I was snapped up immediately afterwards and although my road has been bumpy with redundancy again last year, I am of the view that if you are good at what you do and open to opportunities, something will arrive.