Graduates; a career guide for the next generation of HR talent

We’ve reached that time of the year where students will be completing exams and starting to think about how to channel their academic achievements into pursing their chosen careers.

We’ve reached that time of the year where students will be completing exams and starting to think about how to channel their academic achievements into pursing their chosen careers.

For those considering a move into HR there are several things to consider before you start making those all important job applications.

As with any occupation, exposure to the practical as well as the academic makes job seekers a much more attractive prospect to employers. One way of achieving this can be through temporary work, but if this proves difficult to secure it can be beneficial to approach local charities and see if they have capacity for volunteering within their HR team. It may not generate income but even a few week’s experience can make all the difference when it comes to pursing permanent opportunities.

Another important thing to consider is where skills and passions are best aligned. HR is a broad sector encompassing a range of different disciplines, some of which may appeal more than others. If your main driver is the people side of the profession, then consider L & D or Recruitment. If you’re more methodical and good with numbers, then Reward should be on your radar. If you’re a confident communicator and find it easy to manage challenging situations, then Employee Relations could be a real area of strength.

If it proves difficult to pinpoint a particular field of expertise then a varied, generalist role is a good avenue to explore as it gives exposure to every aspect of the HR remit. It is also invaluable for anyone with their sights set on a senior management position further down the line where a broad base of skills is paramount.

Another thing to take into consideration is sector. The nature of HR is largely dictated by the type of business within which the function sits and job roles can vary significantly as a result. If a fast-paced, ever changing, dynamic environment appeals, then you may want to explore an HR career within manufacturing, engineering or FMCG. If you think you would suit a more white-collar, regulated atmosphere then look into business services or finance. If you’re keen to inject some philanthropy into your career path then choose education, public services or not-for-profit organisations.

Another really valuable exercise all HR job seekers should do is to start to build a professional network. Start by creating a really strong LinkedIn profile with all of your relevant academic achievements and work experience. Compile a list of all the organisations that appeal to you as possible employers and ask the senior HR Leader’s within them to connect with you. It may not lead straight to a job, but when potential employers do their background work and look over your profile a healthy list of credible connections will add weight to your application.

You might also want to ask yourself if there is anyone you already know in the profession who could act as your mentor. A mentor can give you valuable guidance, advice and insight into the profession. They can also make introductions and act as a credible reference on your behalf.

Finally, if you haven’t already started studying towards the CIPD qualification then put it at the top of your agenda. This essential credential will prove your dedication to the profession and position you as a candidate of choice when it comes to new career opportunities


Jen Gaster

Founder and Director of HR Heads. Passionate about the innovative and successful recruitment of HR talent and creating strong, lasting networks built on trusted relationships. Industry specialist for the Hampshire region
Connect with me on LinkedIn here