How did you get into HR??

When networking I find that a lot of HR practioners "fell into" their HR careers.

I myself decided at age 17 that I wanted to do a BA in HRM and then I gained experience and went onto do my CIPD.

I'm interested to find out how others got into HR.


  • Hi,

    I planned it as well, when I graduated with my undergraduate degree in Economics, I went back and did a 1 year postgraduate MSc in HR and L&D, with my CIPD thrown in for good measure. Then worked my way up in HR ever since.

    I know what you mean though, my prior HR Director (in retail) was a trained pharmacist, then a flagship store manager who slowly took on some HR responsibilities before taking a sideways step into HR.

    It takes all sorts!!!

  • I went to uni as a mature student (26) to retrain as a probation officer after being a navy deck officer. I did 4 work-placements during the 2 year course, 2 in probation, one in psychiatric social work, and a 2 week taster in a factory personnel department. Going into Personnel (HR) was the most attractive proposition for me as it seemed to offer the greatest prospect of job satisfaction and tangible outcomes. I've never regretted that decision.

    Did I fall into HR? Sort of.....but I knew what my skill set is, and all these options were viable. But it demonstrated the value of work experience opportunities!

  • I planned it.

    I studied BA(Hons) HRM at University. I undertook a sandwich course and took a role as a Recruitment Consultant (I was drawn to the large commission package that came with the role!) However, after the year I decided that after Uni I wanted a general HR career and it just so happened that the Rec2Rec agency my placement company used wanted to hire me for such role.

    So it worked out that I fell into the company but planned the role.

  • I fell into HR, via the secretarial route.  I had been the secretary to the accounts manager in a foreign investment bank, was bored silly after the first few months and was contemplating leaving.  My disillusionment with my job was obvioiusly noticed, and I was offered the opportunity to transfer to another department, to become the secretary of the operations manager who also had responsibility for personnel (as it was in those days).  My duties took on more and more of an admin slant and I became a personnel assistant.  The personnel officer resigned, I asked for her job and got it.......and so it went on.  Studies and qualifications came much later.
  • I fell into HR.... I went to Uni and did a Business Studies degree without any clue of where I wanted to go or what I wanted to do...

    As part of the course i had to do a placement and that placement happened to be in HR... I was told I was good at it and ended up going back to Uni and specialising in HR for my final year. 

    My then employer wasn't overly concerned about CIPD membership etc.. then so I merrily worked my way upwards and onwards.  It was only when I came to look outside that business that I appreciated how important it was to get a foot in the door with potential employers.  So i pulled my finger out and completed my CIPD.

    So yes, definitely fell into HR but over ten years later and I am still here... so I must have found my calling; either that or my employers haven't realised that I am still just that university student looking for the next pint and wondering what tomorrow will bring...

  • I also planned a career in HR...

    When I was 16 I spent 2½ years selling knickers at M&S.  Most of my colleagues had worked there longer than I'd be alive (then) and I was intrigued by what motivated them to stay... I now know it was the non-contributory final salary pension scheme!  At the same time, I also happened to be studying Chemistry A-Level, and it became very quickly apparent that it was definitely not my strong point, so I switched to Business Studies.

    I also did a Business Studies degree, with an industrial placement in HR, which confirmed that it was a career that I was interested in pursuing.

  • Hi Victoria 

    I fell into HR, but glad i did. I completed a degree in Tourism and Regional Studies (wanted to do Marketing for NI Tourist Board) After Uni i took a job in a hotel as a receptionist and over the next few years worked my way up to Asst Manager of a large 4 star hotel. Along the way got very involved in  Health and Safety and HR side of management and completed my CPP.

    In 2005 i broke my elbow which meant i was off work for 6 months and i decided then to look for an HR position full time. Started out as HR Admin Assistant, completed NVQ in Personnel Management and am presently HR Officer for the NI Branch of a global company responsible for 165 employees and love every minute of it.

    Also plan to continue with my studies next year when my little boy starts playgroup.


  • I fell into HR.  I left school after "A" levels and joined a bank.  Had thought about teaching but thought if I spent 3 or 4 years training and didn't like it it was a waste of money, whereas at least the bank were paying me.  Did the Banking diploma, not sure that it is still going though.  Ended in a managerial role but didn't like the way bamking was heading - money shops etc.  Then moved to a Mortgage Admin company after 10 years and had an operational management role - managing a satellite centre of 40 staff gave me some exposure to "people management" issues!  Then moved to a sister company which were taking over a competitor and was asked to undertake the HR manager role as I had an interest in HR issues, agreed to do so on the proviso that they supported me getting my CIPD qualification (well, half day off and 50% funding - so not bad).

    Now do a bit of everything being a consultant - suppose training is a little like teaching but hopefully the people attending want to learn and develop, not sure about school students in the main!  Have been in HR for about 14 years now and love it - as all roles has it's frustrations of course.  Don't regret at all having had an operational background and think it does add to my credibility when I say that I can understand operational concerns - have been there and done that!  HR can sometimes been seen as remote from reality and living in an ivory tower.


  • What an interesting bunch we are!

    I fell into HR as well - I did a degree in Sports Sciences as a mature student having left school to become a Police Officer and then leaving the Police to raise a family (pre flexible working days!) Knew I needed a degree to enter the job market properly so chose one where I thought there would be more running around then writing (wrong!). As I finished my degree a 8 week temp role came up in the HR dept of a railway company, stayed there 18 months and was hooked on the variety of working in HR. Moved to a permanent role and got my CIPD where it was onwards and upwards from there.

    I have worked in the UK and Europe and had global roles which has given me a really interesting and varied career. I now work as an interim out of choice so that I keep the variety and continue to learn  - and have lots of time off in between contracts :-)


  • I "fell into" HR, but am glad I did, but also glad I'd done non-HR roles first.

    Post Uni with no clue what career to follow I did various retail management roles (basically "fell into" that too!), then a stint as a recruitment consultant. A couple more non-HR roles followed, then I ended up (after redundancy) utilising my recruitment experience in a graduate recruitment role for a national retailer. I transferred from that to a generalist HR role with the same firm and started my CIPD qualification. Since then I've done several more HR roles. (Yes, I have changed jobs a fair few times in my career so far!)  

    On a more general note, I tend to think it's to the advantage of the profession to have a variety of backgrounds and experience amongst HR practitioners


  • I didn't fall, more sort of slipped.

    Appointed as  a Youth Trainer because of my outdoor pursuits skills - By mistake really as I was useless at dealing with youngsters.  Got better, eventually some of my work was published as good practice and by then really enjoyed it and found it rewarding.  Moved onto training management training.  But what next?.  Wanted to broaden the skills base I was training in, mainly because most of the managers I met had more qualifications than me, so  I decided to do Personnel Management at the nearest university partially because that was all that was available. I found it quite interesting and as it didn't mean standing up in front of a group every daydecided I'd be one.

    Then a recruitment company I asked for careers advice told me I'd be too old at 38 to start a career in personnel.  That did it!  I was determined then to be one and I just kept on trying until I got a job.  And so it happened!!! 

  • I orginally started with a BA (Hons) in English and worked in sales and marketing for several years.  Whilst taking a break I took a temp job with this company as an admistrator (wanted to move away from sales and marketing) which I did for two years; I loved the company.  I was offered a secondment in HR which I took and was informed I had to have a CPP which I paid for myself.  I successfully completed this is 2006 and I was taking on and have worked as an HR Assistant for the last four years (has it been that long!). 

    I would like to do the CIPD but it is finding a company that would be willing to pay. 

  • I fell into my previous career working in IT support roles via a temp job when I was a teenager.  I hit my IT ability ceiling (which was low!) and realised I needed to change careers and HR had always facinated me.  I managed to negotiate my way into a part time HR Assistant vacancy at my current employers by also working part time in my old IT job.  I did that for two years before moving into HR full time and then starting my CIPD studies at the age of 30.  Eight years on and I am a Chartered MCIPD, HR Manager and love everything about my role. 
  • Seems that very many colleagues followed the White Rabbit and fell into Wonderland - as I did, but don't regret it one little bit.

    Orginally, I worked for the Diplomatic Service / Foreign Office in a menial capacity but in a venture to improve myself  went into HE following Business Studies, which only served to teach me just how totally boring debits and credits and accountants and critical paths and those American managerial 'science' gurus really were

    After the Business Studies, I 'fell' into the 'Labour Department' of the local steelworks, rather because I refused, on basis of previous bitter experience, to have anything to do with their Cost Office, and, although much was indeed Wonderland, and there were ups and downs, I've never really looked back, or ever regretted it.

    In many ways, it was a privilege to interact with ordinary workpeople and to share with them their workplace concerns and experiences, and I learned a very great deal from it - not least, that workpeople possess and deserve essential dignity - it was often abundantly clear to me  only 'life chances' had differentiated 'the management' from 'the workforce'.

    Also, there was something rather elemental in turning stuff from the earth into shining steel - I developed a personal theory that the most elemental workers were the blastfurnacemen, and despite being very scary individuals indeed they were intensely honourable people for bwhom I had utter respect. Whereas other groups of workers, fmuch further removed from these elemental processes, were usually the most troublesome bunch of malingerers and twisters imaginable.

    I'm really trying to say that, had I been charged with making such as choccie bars or dishwaher tablets or  cat crunchies then I wouldn't have been nearly so inspired and neither would the workforce, for all kinds of reasons: it ought not to matter, but it did very much  to me



  • Hi everyone

    I returned to working life after a long period of illness, and started off as a checkout/customer services assistant in a supermarket. 

    Got bored, asked for more responsibility, came in to work one day to find my supervisor had arranged an interview for me to take place right there and then!  That was a full time position as payroll clerk.  After a few months, I approached the personnel manager, asked for opportunities to develop, and was put forward for Store Trainer.  (Funnily enough as a little girl I had always wanted to be a teacher)

    At this point I knew that I wanted to work in L&D and/or HR. 

    I then went on to work as Training Officer, HR Officer, then HR Manager before being made redundant.  Studying for the CIPD Post Grad Diploma has been really useful, and I dont think I would have progressed as quickly without this, as its very much related to the work that I do/did.

    HR is such a varied subject - I love it!  Its really interesting to see everyone's career paths too - a source of inspiration for lots I am sure.