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Christina Lattimer

People Discovery

Director And Owner

Read more about Christina Lattimer

Christina’s Counsel: How do I get into HR?


Hello and welcome to this month’s dilemma:

The challenge
A reader wrote to me recently asking for advice about to switch his career from business administration to HR. Just recently having been made redundant, he wondered if now was a good time to make the move into an entirely new field.  
HR appealed to him, firstly, because he loved working with people and, secondly, because he liked the idea that HR was recognised as a profession. 
My response
Here are the 10 tips that I gave him:
  1. Many people think that a career in HR is attractive because they imagine that it’s about working with people. HR is “about” people but, depending on the role, can be similar to any other resourcing job when it gets down to the day-to day reality. 
  2. Be clear about your “why.” Becoming a fully-fledged HR professional can take time and effort so you need to make sure that you have the right motivation to gain the necessary qualifications and experience. 
  3. Get some work experience under your belt, or even a few observational visits to an HR department or time spent with an HR professional in their workplace, to see if the reality matches what you imagine the role to be.  
  4. HR is a broad-based profession that has something for everyone. You may wish to specialise in a particular area such as recruitment or reward. Alternatively, you may wish to become a generalist, covering three broad functions: transactional HR, organisation development/HR policy development and strategic HR. Each requires different approaches, but the CIPD’s HR profession map sets out the broad ranges of skills and competencies expected for professional accreditation.
  5. Look at job adverts and get copies of job descriptions and person specifications so that you can get a feel for different roles, levels and the qualifications that you may need, depending on your aspirations. 
  6. If you can, find yourself a mentor or coach. An HR expert will help you to identify where you might best add value or where your preferences and skills can used to best effect. 
  7. It is possible to become an accredited HR professional via a number of routes, which include flexible and taught programmes as well as an experience-based assessment. But you may also be able to map some of your prior learning to CIPD standards and gain accreditation through qualifications that you already have.  
  8. Although accreditation isn’t mandatory to get an HR job, employers increasingly recognise the value in individuals adhering to industry standards. As a result, more and more HR jobs now require some kind of qualification to qualify for interview/assessment.
  9. Write yourself a personal development plan in order to help you get the role that you really desire. You will also need to commit to continuous professional development, both on entering the profession and during your subsequent career.
  10. While it takes time and commitment to become an effective HR professional, and business nous is required these days to succeed in the most challenging roles, the effort involved will be well worth it.
Christina Lattimer is director and owner of HR and leadership development consultancy, People Discovery.
If you have an HR problem and don’t know what to do, send her an email to Christina’[email protected]. All problems will be treated in the strictest confidence and, if published, will be made suitably anonymous.
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Christina Lattimer

Director And Owner

Read more from Christina Lattimer

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