Human Resources (HR) is the organisation and management of employees on behalf of a business. This can involve representing staff’s interests alongside that of the business, ensuring employees adhere to the guidelines and codes of conduct laid out by the company, and mediating between the business and its employees to ensure the rights of both are respected.
HR encompasses a wide range of responsibilities including:
Interesting and often financially lucrative, a career in HR can span a range of industries and use a wide range of skills, making it an an exciting and rewarding option for new graduates.
If you’re interested in HR and Recruitment, there are a number of career options open to you. These include:
Graduate or entry-level roles in HR often lead to progression into more senior roles such as Senior HR Manager or HR Director. As HR is a vital component of every industry, you’ll have the opportunity to work across a wide range of fields, from IT and finance to marketing and construction. What’s more, as a global industry, your skills will also be transferable and highly valued, should you wish to seek opportunities to work abroad.
Most major companies and organisations have an internal HR department - from government bodies and NGOs to major retail companies, publishers and banks. Examples include BP, NHS, Tesco, Balfour Beatty, Rolls-Royce, Oxfam, Barclays, Amazon, Apple and Penguin.
Graduates will normally need a 2:1 degree. Although you do not need to have studied a specific discipline, some companies give preference to candidates with degrees in subjects such as business, finance, HR and management. You will also need to display excellent communication and interpersonal skills, good organisation, the ability to meet deadlines and work as part of a team - all key attributes for a role in HR.
Many companies offer entry level roles and internships in HR. As above, employers will want to see evidence of core competencies including communication skills, numeracy and the ability to organise your workload and meet deadlines. Administration skills are also of vital importance, and work experience in an administrative role will probably be looked on favourably by employers.
A career in HR generally involves on-the-job training, and you will often be expected to work towards a professional qualification during that time, such as those offered by the CIPD.
The application process varies depending on the company. Large companies may have a more in-depth interview process than smaller companies, with steps similar to these:
Smaller companies may have a simplified application process that follows some of the aforementioned steps.
The average salary for a graduate post in HR is circa £24,000. As you gain experience and progress up the career ladder, your salary will increase, with some HR Directors at large companies earning over £100,000.
A role in HR can be demanding. Dealing with unhappy workers or delivering news of redundancy can be difficult, and mediating between the business and employees can be stressful and time-consuming. As a result, you’ll need to develop a thick skin without losing your people skills and ability to empathise.
A career in HR can be very rewarding, both professionally and financially. Opportunities for progression and promotion are plentiful and your salary will generally increase in line with your skills and experience. You’ll also be in the position to help colleagues and co-workers develop and reach their professional potential, which can be extremely satisfying. If you’re well organised, have good communication skills and enjoy working as part of a team, it could be the ideal career for you. Visit our HR forum for more information.