What the hell HR!

What the hell HR!

Can someone tell me how I’m meant to gain experience for a HR position..... without already being in that position you need to have experience of?
It's an impossible to resolve catch 22 situation and applies to far too many roles in HR.

If the same standards were applied to other situations then we’d have no doctors, lawyers, politicians, parents, bakers, swimming instructors, teachers, hairdressers, astronauts…. Well essentially everyone.

Does a HR degree and Level 7 CIPD (both of which I have) and 9 years of experience in a range of different HR roles count for nothing? Most roles state "Working towards Level 3 or 5" and I still get overlooked for even for an interview.

It's also very frustrating that I know people who don't have one/any of those two qualifications but they have somehow managed to progress further than I.

So again I ask: What the hell HR?

You might say that in the current employment market that it's understandable.... But this has been going on for two years now. I'm motivated and enthusiastic to resume my HR career, I want to be challenged and tested on a daily basis, but as the months and years receded in the rear mirror then those feelings are ever so slowly eroding....

Also, please don't say: "You need to find the right employer to give you the experience"; every employer is the right employer. Every employer can give you the experience.
It reminds me of a sign I once saw: "Bar staff needed. Previous experience required". Well if every company has that stance then eventually, you're going to run out of bar staff.

Or am I on some industry wide black list of ‘do not employ’? I'd really like to know.
(Yeah, legally these lists can’t and don’t exist. But from personal experience I know that they do….)

I’ll also questioning what’s the point in having a CIPD membership if I never use it? Surely it would be much more cost effective to cancel it and then sign back up as and when I do employed in a role that defines it as an essential requirement. Until then I’m just throwing money into the fire aren’t I?

I'm just ridiculously frustrated that I can't get any role whatsoever in a HR department and there doesn't seem to be any way for me to improve my standing. The impression I get (which has been confirmed by multiple agencies) is that I'm over qualified for entry level HR roles, by don't have enough experience for the higher roles. So I'm in a glass floor AND glass ceiling scenario PLUS the aforementioned catch 22 situation above.
God help me.

So it would seem that I have to smash my head against a closed door until I give up and go make a career in another sector..... which I don't want to do as I really, really, REALLY like working in HR.

It's just a shame that HR doesn't reciprocate those feelings.

So one final time: What the hell HR!

A very frustrated, baffled and demotivated


  • Hi James,

    Something clearly isn' working for you. You might want to think about a few things:

    - What is your Candidate Proposition? Does this clearly define your strengths and what you have to offer over and above others in the shortlist? Or does it just read like any other HR CV? What is your point of differentiation?

    - Personal Branding? How are you coming across in your CV and LinkedIn profile?

    - Evidence; can you demonstrate plenty of evidence of where you have successfully used essential industry skills? This provides credibility to your profile. Evidence is really important in a CV. Hirers hire on trust.

    - Job Search Strategies; reconsider what is working and what isn't.

    - Career Track? (Make sure your application matches as closely as possible, the role's essential requirements). If you are an average match, the shortlist pile will no doubt have 'closer-fit' candidates.

    -Interview Technique?

    - Network - do you need to refresh your network? Are you speaking to the best-placed recruiters to help you, are you maximising your network collateral and are you visible to potential Hirers (so they can find you)?

    Really hope that helps. Whilst you might feel like banging your head against a brick wall - I'd suggest having a look at some of these points instead! That would be my preferred action anyway.
  • James

    Welcome back to the communities. Remember a few years ago a discussion about qualifications and equivalency that you started. Some random thoughts as free feedback for you to use or not as you see fit

    1) HR recruiters (like most managers) like narratives they can understand and people they can see how the role they are recruiting for fit into well. Often people who struggle to get on have some sort of a-typical career path or something that causes a recruiter to take a safer option.

    2) You have a huge advantage over many trying to get on in HR in that you do have a fair wack of experience behind you. 8-9 years albeit much in admin roles I believe. But its a step ahead of others.

    3) What "Might" be confusing recruiters is how your experience and your quantification fit together. If much/all your experience is at entry level and your qualifications are at "manager" level then which role do they hire you for? One you might be using only as an entry route before moving on or the other end where you don't yet have all the experience for. SO at either end you "Might" be seen as a gamble.

    4) At what point are you falling down in the recruitment process and what can you do to change that? You can bemoan external factors (which I except are real) or you can change those factors you can. If you aren't getting interviews then change your CV. If you arent getting past first interviews then change your interview style and approach. If you are getting to last 2 frequently then stick at it.

    5) You say you want to resume your CV. Whats the story there? Meaning why did it stop, what have you done since and how does that all fit into a HR career? This maybe one of the things where it may be harder for men (there aren't many). as explaining a break in career maybe harder.

    6) I am not surprised you are overlooked for roles that say working towards 3 or 5. It may not seem right to you but from the recruiters point of view its a sane rational decision. In the same way many people wouldn't recruit a PhD to be a school teaching assistant. Not saying you couldnt do it but its confusing.

    7) How do you network and with who? I tried to search you on LinkedIn and couldnt find you. Might have been unlucky but many people will check out linked in. Its a great way of raising your HR profile and experience without being in mainline HR.

    8) On a similar point it might be worthwhile thinking about your social media strategy, Two posts on here over the years and both shall we say "memorable". Now in some ways thats good but I am sure it doesnt represent the complete well rounded you.

    9) For what its worth - just on a side point - I have never come across a black list in all my time in HR and certainly not for HR roles - they may exist in some fields of course but in 30 years I have never seen or come across one. So I really wouldn't put huge store on that (and even if they did why would you be on one anyway?)

    10) Dont expect agencies to get you jobs. If they do its a lucky chance

    So no easy answers from me, if there were you would have found them by now. But biggest advice is trying to focus on what you can control, networking like crazy, targeting roles that fit your background and sadly just keep plugging away.

    Good luck
  • In reply to Ginnie:

    Posted at same time as but concur wholeheartedly with her advice
  • In reply to Keith:

    Great minds ...
  • Hi James
    I'd reiterate that I've never seen an employment blacklists though obviously there are employers who know each other.
    Have you had anyone look over your cv or done any employment coaching? I act as a mentor to a number of early career professionals and small differences to a CV or interview technique can make a real difference.
  • Hi James, I feel your frustration and have been there. I agree with the above advice wholeheartedly and wanted to add that there is hope and there are companies out there that will give you an opportunity. I managed to move from retail management into HR, I found the right company to gain experience and train my up. Upon then looking for my next move with 3 years experience and level 3 under by belt, the big companies and corporates wouldn't look at me, as my experience didn't involve quantity of cases and workload. After a very long and frustrating search, I found my next employer to take a step up in my career. Again another SME and a generalist role, but perfect for me and it matches my experience. So do take the above advice and hope from my story. I hope your search is successful.
  • In reply to Keith:

    To answer more succinctly than my initial post:

    Point #3, but also #6) I've been told before that as I've a HR degree (and said degree was certified by the CIPD) that I also hold Level 7 status.
    As such although that would mean I have the knowledge to do a higher, managerial HR role I thought it better to cut my teeth a step below and then work my way up was some solid foundations. The other reasoning being that I rationalised that I'm unlikely to get a managerial role without any of said experience.

    Alternatively are you suggesting that I could or maybe should be applying for HR managerial roles instead?

    5) I was given mandatory redundancy in May 2017 from my last permanent HR role. I then went travelling around the world from June 2017 - January 2018. Upon arrival back in the UK I've been trying to restart my HR career.
    However, I've had more joy getting roles in finance departments than HR. Said finance roles were taken out of a reasoning of "I have to work to earn money" and less about my career aspirations.

    7) I actually have a direct link to my LinkedIn account on my CV.
    Additionally Ginnie found my account some maybe it's just a quirk in the system?

    8) Isn't there any old saying along the lines of: "If you can't be different, be memorable"? ;)
    It's a bit difficult utilising the resources/forum that the CIPD provide. I'm not in a HR situation so don't use and vice versa. Catch 22 situation again I suppose.

    10) Sorry, I was unclear in my meaning. Most of the jobs the I apply for go through companies (I call them 'agencies' as a collective shorthand term) for TotalJobs, CV-Library, Reed etc, but said applications don't get very far.
    Additionally, there is a specialist company in South Wales (where I live), HR Spectrum and they seem to be the main provider for the higher HR roles in this area. And they've never even got me an interview.

    If I've missed anything let me know.

    Regardless, thank you for your comments. They are most welcome.
  • In reply to Gemma:

    Well then there is hope for me!
    The question is how much.....? :)

    I have actually wondered if I should try to get a managerial role in retail which then might provide me an opportunity to come back into HR as I know that's what a few people have done.
  • In reply to James Webber:

    Just for clarity and I may of course be misunderstanding but  a first (undergraduate) degree is not Level 7 - that was the subject of your last post on here where it was discussed extensively. L7 is generally a post graduate qualification. Perhaps (if that is the case?) people are confused by you claiming a L7?

  • In reply to Keith:

    So what level should I be using? 

    According to the government scale a degree is level 6, which I have in HR.
    Unfortunately the CIPD doesn't have such a level so I'm either level 5 or 7. Because I was told by a number of people, maybe even the CIPD (I can't honestly remember), that what I was taught is essentially now level 7 I choose that.

    Maybe I should drop it to level 5?

    P. S. It's quite humorous that 2 years after my initial post, that you allude to, that here's still no clearly defined answer.... 

  • In reply to James Webber:

    There is a very clearly defined answer. You do not have a level 7 qualification. That was conclusion of the last post and its the same now. You have a first degree - that is not level 7 - sorry thats not me saying that its the guidelines we discussed last time and that still apply.
  • In reply to Keith:

    So not to be argumentative but what level am I?

    If I have no CIPD Level whatsoever then that means the CIPD is superseding the UK government education guidelines. Which can't be right.
  • In reply to James Webber:

    No it isn’t. You have a level 6 qualification. That’s what a first degree is.

    The CIPD don't award a L6. But you have one awarded by a UK University. Not every professional body should or needs to award a qualification at every level.

    Sadly you do not have a L 7 qualification so claiming one may well confuse /mislead recruiters when/if they find out you don’t.
  • In reply to Keith:

    The previous conversation

  • In reply to Keith:

    And I did initially follow the advice to say that I was Level 6.

    However, very quickly this became problematic. I vividly remember sitting in an interview and literally explaining for 10 minutes what Level 6 meant and what the Government Education Scale is to the three interviewees because they didn't know. We even had a quick Q&A session afterwards. Suffice to say I didn't get the role.

    If, as you say in your initial post about a "....HR recruiters (like most managers) like narratives they can understand...." then the situation I describe is is even worse than my current predicament is it not?

    So I went back to stating I have Level 7; instead of resolving the inherent and systemic issues I simply learnt to work within them. But that's not working either......
    Granted I could've chosen to use Level 5, but I think the same situation would occur because truly speaking I don't have Level 5 either.

    P.S. It might be worth emphasising again that the degree I did achieve was certified by the CIPD i.e. they actually specified all classes and content I needed to take and also I had to submit a dissertation. So in that sense even though the CIPD may not have DIRECTLY given me the qualification I refer to, they DID certify it.

    My understanding is that my University was one of very few that could provide this.

    I would presume (although I have no specific knowledge) that the CIPD do not directly provide the courses to sit Level 3, 5 and 7 but they do specify the content and certify the criteria is met? Therefore is this not essentially the same?