Human resources careers are highly coveted. The pay is good, the job is different day to day and there are plenty of career advancements for the right candidate. It comes as no surprise, then, that getting your foot in the door and landing your first job in HR can be difficult. It’s a competitive market, and you’ll really need to stand out from the crowd to get yourself noticed by potential employers.
That’s why we’re here to help. LMIT have helped hundreds of course graduates launch their careers in HR, and now we’re extending that help to you. Read on for our top tips to land an entry level human resources position.
Learn the industry
HR is multi-faceted and always evolving. Once thought of as nothing more than ‘paper pushing’ or administration, HR is now recognised as a strategic industry that can help make a business more profitable, professional and efficient. From hiring and firing to team building, organising pay to resolving workplace disputes, your role in HR will always be varied and often be a challenge. If you’re looking for your first step into human resources, make sure you know the ins and outs of the role you’re applying for. There are a few ways to do this. Firstly, you can take a course. A HR-related degree is one option, but these tend to be much more academic than they are practical, and it certainly won’t give you any hands-on experience. If a degree isn’t for you, you could consider a more practical and hands-on course and get your Certificate IV or Diploma. These courses tend to be more veered towards specific roles within HR rather than a generalised overview so are an excellent way to master the requirements of the job description before you apply for a role, making you ultimately much more likely to get hired. Another option is to do thorough research on the different roles and shadow someone in a role that you like. This will give you some insight into the role, how it fits against your personality and the career steps you need to make to get to that position.
Hone your skills
Once you have a good knowledge on the industry and the job role that you want, it’s time to hone your skills. Start looking at job descriptions and reading the requirements for the role and the personality traits the employer is looking for. If they want someone who is good at handling conflict, you need to go out and get some conflict-resolution experience. Remember that this will need to be in a professional sense – we wouldn’t advise you trying to break up a fight down the pub on a Friday night!
You may need to look into incorporating those attributes into your current role or asking your employer if you can take on extra responsibilities related to the role you’re aiming for. It will give you good experience, you’ll be able to use your current employer as a reference when job hunting, and it’ll be a good stepping stone to the career you actually want.
Of course, if you are taking part in one of the aforementioned course or diplomas, you will be honing your skills as you learn so this step may be easier for you.
Now that you’re armed with the right skills and knowledge, it’s time to get some real experience behind you. If you can’t get a paid role in HR just yet, the next best step is to volunteer or take an unpaid internship. Internships or volunteering can be controversial as of course they won’t pay the bills but it’s a guaranteed way to make yourself more employable. It shows dedication to the role and a good attitude towards work, as well as giving you real-world experience that means you’ll need less training. You’ll have to actively seek out internships, it’s unlikely that you’ll see many opportunities listed on recruitment websites. Reach out to any and every organization in your local area. Contact your local volunteering coordination organizations and see if any of the charities they support need HR tasks done for them. If you do a good job during your internship, it makes finding a paid position so much easier, in which case, you’ve found your in and you can step right into a role that you’re already trained to do.
Often, when it comes to HR, it’s not just what you know – it’s also who you know. Human resources roles are inherently people-facing. You need excellent communication skills and you need to enjoy interacting with people. Confidence really is key. This means that often the best candidates for HR roles are the people that are putting themselves out there. Networking is a fantastic way to break into HR. It shows passion, commitment, and more importantly, that you’re not afraid of putting yourself out there. Networking to find open positions makes you much more likely to stand out from your competitors; who do you think is going to be more memorable, the candidate who applied online with a CV or the person who actively pursued the role and spoke to the person hiring directly?
It’s not just about calling up employers either – it’s about knowing what connections you do have. Most companies want to know that the person they are hiring is going to be a good fit for their company. If you know someone who is working at a company that you applied to, it can really be helpful to let them know you’ve applied and ask them to put in a good word for you. The employer will take the opinions of his staff into consideration.
If you took a course or diploma, keep in contact with the friends you made, and even reach out to your professors or teachers. They are likely to have many industry connections that they can introduce you to and help you get your first job in HR.
LMIT are one of Australia’s leading providers of quality and reputable line management training. We’re passionate about connecting the next generation of HR employees, managers and project managers with the perfect role for them. Get in contact today to find out more.
Published by: Miranda Dews