Route into HR

Hello All,

I am presently completing my level 5 in HR. I plan and will be finished at latest in December 2020 however I am hopeful to be completed before then.

My background is as a duty manager, line manager, senior manager and business owner in sports, retail and food service industries which had given me 20 years experience as a manager with 9 years of it in a larger retailer where as a line manager and senior manager I had a lot of exposure to dealing with people management and HR within my roles such as recruitment and selection, performance management, people management, disclipnary and investigations etc which I am seeing especially now with completion of this course.

My question is how do I translate this into jobs I can apply for once the course is completed.

For example I have a lot of business experience so would I be considered for a HR business partner role? 

Thanks for your help in advance.

I am from Edinburgh and would be looking to commence a full or part time role in HR on completion of the course and I am flexible to what level I start.


  • Business Partner may be overly enthusiastic at this stage. Even established HR Managers struggle sometimes to break into the role.

    The level 5 will underpin some of the theory behind the practice so you’ve made a good start. In terms of roles, I can’t comment - it all depends on how you market yourself I guess. There’s nothing wrong with HR Advisor type roles to start. What a HR Advisor will do will vary from org to org. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and really get involved in all aspects of HR and even gain knowledge about strategy etc.
  • Also depends on what sort of salary you are after. Again, for a HR Advisor it will vary depending on org size, sector, structure of HR function. Most tend to be between £25-£32k. But there are places that offer more.
  • In reply to Amo:

    Thanks for reply. Just starting to look at all the different roles that are out there and as you have mentioned some seem to vary from organisation to organisation in what they are looking for. I have transferable experience and skills it’s just at what level these will align too or be considered for without having worked as a HR professional as such even though have gained practical HR and transferable experiences in managerial roles.
  • Make your CV shine. It’s not always bad being completely new to HR. I’m sure in your career you’ve done stuff, e.g., conducted investigations and disciplinary hearings that even the lower levels of HR roles won’t allow you to do. But there’s a difference between conducting one with the help/coaching of HR and actually being the person that other managers turn to for advice - lot’s of in between skills and knowledge to learn. It’s a case of, the more you do it, the better you’ll become.

    Also, what sort of industry/company are you wanting a HR role? Other’s may disagree but in my own personal experience, if I am passionate about what my employer does, I am more passionate about the context of HR within that company.
  • Lastly, network. Something I need to do more of. Maybe join your local CIPD branch, attend events run by external organisations. A company called Peninsula offer some great (and free) employment law and health and safety update events. CIPD also do some good ones, but unless an employer is paying, they are expensive, which is a shame. I would love to attend some of their events but can’t justify £600 for a ticket. Finally, and this is something I am now trying to do, shadow senior professionals. Ask questions and gain insights. In my case, I have operational HR experience, but want to learn more about strategy, change management and organisational design.
  • In reply to Amo:

    Thanks for info. I was a senior manager within my retail role in stores with more than 400 staff in some cases and regularly asked for advice in various areas as well as conducting processes myself as I had line managers and supervisors who reported to me. Also would be helping store managers and other senior managers with various issues. Gave me loads of exposure and practical experience of training, mentoring, absence management, talent development etc as well as other stuff mentioned.

    Personnel managers in store where there to guide but due to my position and experience and skill as a people manager I would generally be going to personnel manager with my ideas rather than needing advised if that makes sense. Over the 9 years in role more and more of traditional HR became line manager and senior managers roles within the business I worked in.

    Open minded to the industry I move into for HR role.
  • In reply to Bryan:

    Also involved in large change management projects due to downsizing and technology and equipment investments which gave me experience in changing hours for business requirements in the right manner,
  • You have a lot of transferable skills then. May be worth seeing what advice other users can give who have similar levels of experience and wanted to make the move into HR. Good luck anyway and hope you enjoy the Level 5 course.
  • Welcome to the forums, Bryan.

    To be frank, a lot of it is luck: applying for the right role at the right time, or knowing the right person. Generally speaking, a company wouldn't be well advised to take on an HRM or HRBP without direct experience in HR management, regardless of their operational management background. But it may be hard to find an operational HR Advisor or similar role given your management experience - it's going to be pretty obvious that you're only there to pad your CV on your way up the ladder.

    Temporary roles are probably your best, most reliable option. No one cares that you're not planning on hanging around, and such roles often have a more pragmatic, "just-get-stuff-done" agenda that will suit someone with plenty of hands-on experience. In the event that you shine, you'll be first in the queue for a permanent job in the same environment. And if you don't, well, it's only temporary. You can spin the experience to a positive drift in your next interview.

    Most people moving from one discipline into HR take a pay-cut to do so (heaven knows, I did).
  • In reply to Robey:

    Thanks for reply appreciate time you have taken to respond.

    Looks like a few people agree with your reply as it’s had a few likes.

    Assuming your meaning a temporary role at HR advisor level?
  • In reply to Bryan:

    Totally agree with Robey.
  • In reply to Bryan:

    Yes, if you can get one. They are more common at administrator level. When I was in the same situation I was given a basic role that involved assisting a senior manager in re-writing people policies. Within a week it was clear that I was capable of re-writing the policies on my own given basic guidance. Within a month I was done and assisting an HRBP with data analysis. So they put me on casework for the next two months. They wanted to extend me, but by that point I'd been offered an HRBP role elsewhere.
  • In reply to Robey:

    Thanks for help really appreciated and insightful.
    So what was your background before moving into HR where you a experienced manager and if so what industry and if not what did you do?
    I assume temporary roles can be part time as well? To gain experience to get a permanent role feels like I might have to balance my present career with a temporary part time HR role for a while? Or even a permenant part time role for a while. Or consider that as a possibility to then open up permanent roles at a acceptable starting salary point as a full time role.
    Yeah am not moving planning to move into HR for increasing salary as main focus it’s for lifestyle choice and doing something that interests me. As a operational manager was always good at the people management side of things and interested and good at HR side of things I completed as part of my role.
  • In reply to Bryan:

    I was a British Army officer. It meant I had a great background in leadership and management, and because of the roles I'd done in the Army, I was quite happy finding my way around complex legislation and policy. But when I left, I found people reluctant to take me into an HR role because management processes in the military are, understandably, quite different to civilian ones (although not as different as you might imagine).

    Circumstances aligned that it made sense for me to stay at home and look after the children and the house for six years, so my skills were seen as even rustier by the time I got back into the job market.
  • I'm in an almost identical position, Bryan: 20 years in retail operations and I'm taking a year out to get my CIPD 7 and MA in HRM.

    The advice I've been given is:

    Apply for HR advisor posts to get a HR role on the CV. Large companies with more chance of progression to HR Manager are a sensible option.

    Apply for HR grad schemes, if this applies to you. They invest in you for 2-4 years and rotate you around HR departments to give you varied exposure.

    Taylor your CV to be skills focused, rather than role focused: really pull out those HR experiences.

    Look for fixed term roles to get varied experience and build that HR CV. Most expect you to come in and hit the ground fast, though.

    Get out there at CIPD events and get networking. Try and get a mentor, if possible. I've found that invaluable.

    Good luck!