HR and L&D is about creating successful businesses through people - making sure you've got the right people, with the right skills in the right roles. The HR and L&D profession spans every industry and covers a huge spectrum of jobs, specialisms and careers. To help you decide which path is right for you, let's take a closer look at some of the essential information.

Are you suited to a career in HR?

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 Are you suited to a career in HR?

HR is about helping an organisation to create value through its people – literally providing human resources. The work of an HR professional will vary depending on the type and size of their organisation, but could include recruiting people, training and developing employees, and helping to decide how staff should be paid and rewarded. There are even roles which focus on employment law and protecting the rights of employees at work. HR professionals will also often deal with legal issues, help to shape the culture of their organisations, and focus on what keeps their colleagues productive and engaged.

HR gives you the opportunity to work in every sector, from media to engineering and from banks to charities as most businesses need an HR professional to help support their people management. And HR professionals work globally so the world is your oyster!

So if you’re interested in business and enjoy understanding how people work and what motivates them to perform well, a career in HR and people development could be the one for you.

L&D stands for learning and development and is specifically focused on helping people learn new skills so they’re motivated and productive at work. L&D professionals are concerned with getting the best out of their workforce and developing their skills and capabilities to drive business performance.

The work of an L&D professional can also be very varied and may include delivering activities as diverse as firearms training for police officers or mentoring programmes for fund managers, they may be involved in coaching line managers to help support their teams, or creating and evaluating training programmes for their organisation. L&D professionals will focus on supporting, developing and accelerating learning in order to build agile and responsive organisations with the capability they need to execute their chosen strategy.

With such a broad range of activities, what sort of role could you go into? In some organisations you can cover the full range of HR work, gaining a broad range of skills and experiences - this is called a generalist role. In other organisations you may be able to specialise in a particular area. If so, there are many options available to you including:

  • Recruitment and talent planning
  • Learning, training and development
  • Employment law
  • Employee relations
  • Performance and reward
  • Employee engagement
  • Organisation development

For more information on the specialisms within HR and L&D visit our Key Specialisms page.

Starting salaries for HR and L&D professionals are similar to those in other trainee jobs, although if you have a relevant qualification and work experience you’ll be able to negotiate higher salaries. If you’re just starting out from school or college you’ll probably earn around £15,000–£19,000 a year. But as you gain qualifications and experience your salary can go up significantly. HR Officers could earn upwards of £24,000, HR managers can earn between £30,000 and £50,000 and HR and L&D directors over £80,000!

It’s worth remembering that salaries in local government, charities and smaller businesses can pay less than large businesses and sectors such as banks and financial services. As an HR and L&D professional you’ll also have access to other benefits such as bonuses, pensions and holidays, all of which vary from job to job.

Outside of qualifications and work experience, it’s worthwhile considering the personal qualities you’ll need to be successful in HR. People who thrive in the profession tend to be:

  • strong communicators
  • trustworthy and discreet
  • business savvy and interested in how organisations work
  • good at working as part of a team
  • flexible, adaptable and patient.

HR and L&D professionals also need to be balanced and objective (as they often be represent both fellow employees and their employer) as well as earning the trust and respect of their colleagues. A curious and questioning mind is also a great strength!

For more information about the skills required for a career in HR and L&D visit our skills page

Luke Smith

I really love working in HR, especially for the company that I work for. The best things about my job are working in a fast-paced environment, the team that I work with are really supportive, there’s always lots going on, every day is different.

​Luke Smith

HR Assistant

David Blaylock

I think the best thing about learning and development is actually delivering training. I think when you deliver training you get a buzz. What you do applies in all industries you might work. I’ve worked in branded restaurants, I’ve worked in charities, I’ve worked in recruitment, and people think and react in the same way no matter what industry or sector they’re in.

David Blaylock

L&D Manager

Cerian Morgan

So the great thing about HR is the variety that it offers. You can go into a specialism if you want like L&D or recruitment or you can remain a generalist. It’s also a fantastic skill to have because it means you can move from industry to industry and work in all sorts of different areas.

Cerian Morgan

HR Generalist

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