Career change to a HR role


I am looking to make a career change into a HR role and would love to ask some advice?

I have a retail background (currently a supervisor in luxury sales), so although I do not have any direct experience, I do fulfil perform team leader and performance assesment activities within my team. I have been in this industry for three years and have recognised that the aspects of my job I find the most fulfilling are the 'people' parts. This has lead me to pursue this change. As I am currently lacking in HR experience I am self funding my level 3 diploma in HR, which I am working through in my own time.

I wondered if anyone could offer any advice to a new starter on how to make the transition into the profession? From my own research a lot of roles, even the entry level admin assistant positions are asking for previous experience ( which I sadly lack).

Any advice would be greatly appreciated, 

Many thanks,


  • Hi Emily,

    Career change into HR is a great move! I have gone through something similar in past when I graduated and was working in retail sector. From my experience you have to show in your resume/covering letter how your current skills working as a supervisor is relevant and transferable to HR role i.e. performance management, succession planning for the best talents in your team etc. Those skills and experiences are still relevant despite currently not working in a HR. Also highlight clearly in your cover letter or to the recruiter that your passion and commitment in HR shows through active participation in CIPD qualification which keeps you up to date with HR knowledge and how you can put in practice.

    I hope that helps!

  • In reply to Dhara Vakharia:

    hi, I am new to the forum but you are in a very similar position to myself. I am currently debating between doing a college course for the level 3 foundation or doing an online course through DPG - which is more expensive but more appealing.
    May I ask what route you are choosing to do?
  • In reply to debbie mckee:

    Hi Debbie. I recently did the Level 3 course with DPG, and I really enjoyed it. It depends on what suits your personal circumstances, but I found it ideal for my needs and very well run.
  • There are a number of threads about getting our first HR job either as a new graduate or as a transferee from another career / profession. Main highlights of them appear to be:

    1) There are lots of people who want to work in HR
    2) There are a lot less HR jobs than people who want them
    3) Most employers now have the luxury of looking for people who are experienced AND qualified often beyond where people "need" to be
    4) People found it a longer and more frustrating process than they hoped
    5) Many people found the best route was from within their existing employer and moving into HR projects or support roles or at least within their sector.
    6) Fewer people out there were open to giving people their first "chance" at the moment given the range of people qualified and experienced out there
    7) Volunteering, third sector and the public sector were all avenues some people recommended.
    8) Some people struggled to maintain the level they were at and had to step down wards to transfer into HR

    Its a very rewarding and worthwhile career so stick at it - but be prepared to be creative and flexible about opportunities and look in your own organisations first.

    Best of luck
  • Hi Emily,

    I worked in recruitment some 7/8 years ago and decided to self fund my foundation level CIPD through DPG, excellent provider however quite expensive.

    Ultimately if you have the drive, passion and a genuine interest then any interviews secured you really just have to hope someone takes a chance on you with it being your first role and when that happens grab it with both hands and make it work.

    Be prepared for it to be stressful and frustrating as HR is so vast, full of grey areas and often open to interpretation. When you set out on your career it's tough but it's a career, day by day you will learn and grow into the industry.

    It's so worthwhile once you are in the "HR circle", when I explain I work in HR people will always say 'That's a good career' or 'How did you get into that?'.

    Trust me pursue it...it's worth it.

  • Hi Emily,
    I've got a really similar background to you, having done retail supervisor/management stuff and realised the bit I liked best was the people side.
    I transferred from retail to HR 18 months ago. Send me a message (linkedin) and we can chat if you want?
    After getting my CIPD level 3 I did a few things to boost the experience.
    I got a days work experience within the retail with the Regional HRBP which was useful, good to pick her brain and see what she did.
    I then did an unpaid internship for three weeks (yes I know..) with a fashion retail in their HR dept, it ticked the box for experience and was a transition that made sense. Fashion Retail world being small they then found me a paid admin role with another retailer for 3 months.
  • In reply to Briony C:

    I have been in the same position, and it is hard in more ways than one to make the move, but it's certainly achievable. One thing that helped me was doing HR projects as a line manager - for example I took it on myself to re-educate managers and collagues on absence management, and created an absence management toolkit for Managers to use. This helped reduce absence and was a good example for my CV. This is the kind of thing you can just do off your own back, and you can also ask your local HR team if you can pick up any project work or additional case loads.
  • I think you should take your own time to think while changing career.
    this will help you read this : www.easy-articles.com/10-Tips-on-How-to-Change-Careers-and-Make-it-Work.aspx
  • Hi Emily,

    All the replies already provided are great.

    After I graduated from university I found it pretty hard to find my first HR role as well, so I applied for unpaid internships whilst I was completing my self-funded Level 3 Certification. I believe completing a 3-month internship (essentially volunteering) strongly helped me secure my first paid HR role.

    What I learned from this is to create opportunities to gain experience in HR whatever it takes- whether in your current organisation, whether in your old University's HR department, whether through contacting people in your network and asking whether you can shadow or support them for a few weeks (especially i they're going through busy periods)- anything that you can then put on your CV to demonstrate your ability to work in HR.

    Also, if you have the flexibility (or ask for the flexibility) to expand the scope of your current role and create new things that are HR-related this will also be good for your CV and for discussing in interviews.

    All the best,

  • Hello Emily,
    This is really a problem when you are looking for a job. I remember I'v faced with that when I had finished university. And you need to find a job but everyone want you to have an experience in that. But of course, where to find it after university? The same situation is when you'v decided to find a new job, I mean in other sphere and you don't have enough experience. I think in your situation, may be you can find a place where they have not so high demands to office-seeker, to get some practice there and then to find a place what you really what? Of course, you need to wait a little bit but after this you will have experience, education in this sphere and a good job)
    The most important - don't give up
    By the way, here is a good resource, you can find some useful information there www.biographywritingservices.com/
  • Hello, Emily! It's good you're working on your diploma, that's a nice start! When I was switching my carrer from an electrician to an engineer I didn't have any diploma. Still, I work on Serbska Svaya and now I realize that it was an important step for me having a life I want to have.