“Human Resources isn’t a thing we do. It’s the thing that runs our business.” – Steve Wynn, Wynn Las Vegas

On Wednesday 21st February, Careers Network welcomed several speakers to talk about Human Resources, and they spoke about their job roles and experience. They also gave helpful tips about how to secure internships and graduate jobs in the sector.

An introduction to HR  

Vince O’Grady, People and Organisational Development Consultant at UoB, provided an informative introduction to the world of HR, saying that it seems to be a sector a lot of people “fall into”. Vince described his role as a way of assisting managers and employees, saying that HR is about helping others recruit the right people and give them the right training at the right time. The goal is to improve team communication and help companies adapt.

Whilst many people think that staff training is the main way to learn new skills within professional teams, Vince pointed out that his role is more about helping the team learn about how they’re operating. He uses coaching skills to ask managers difficult questions so they can find the answers for themselves in order to better understand their goals and employees. This coaching can be done using psychometrics and personality tests such as Myers-Briggs in order to help teams work better together. Vince’s role is very wide-ranging as he coaches people from many different sectors in off-site and on-site sessions.

What qualifications are available?

Kate Henderson is the MSc Recruitment Admissions Officer for the UoB Business School, and she spoke about the two HR MSc programmes offered at the University  which can help you stand out. When doing the MSc, you can also access the Careers in Business team for networking events, CV help and interview preparation. You need a 2:1 but it doesn’t matter what your degree background is:

MSc Human Resource Management

This is a 1-year programme that covers a set of compulsory modules looking at the role of Human Resource Management in the workplace, as well as 40 credits of optional modules where you can specialise in areas such as Equality and Diversity or Change Management. The MSc includes a 10,000-word dissertation on a subject of your choice.

MSc Human Resource Management with CIPD Pathway

The CIPD is the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, an association for HR professionals offering different grades of membership as well as a series of professional qualifications. This MSc covers the criteria needed to apply to be an associate with the CIPD upon graduating, a good option if you are wanting to work in HR in the UK especially. This course does not include optional modules but covers the same core areas.

What can you do within HR?

James Mottram is a UoB Philosophy and Politics alumnus and now works as a Talent Acquisition Team Lead at Spotify through a company called Elements. He explained that there are various ways to work in recruitment, and these require different skills. He recruits for Spotify using direct applications and headhunting at competitors such as Facebook and Google. He also manages the hiring process and helps build an employer brand and company culture. He spoke about four different types of HR:

Recruitment Agency

This is where James first started as a consultant, and the role involved matching up clients with different candidates through cold-calling, visiting clients and working for company commissions. Characteristics of the job:

  • Lots of competition (you need to be resilient)
  • Target-driven (based on call statistics)
  • Long hours
  • Involves negotiation of contracts
  • Limited contact with clients
  • Candidate is the commodity
  • Can earn a lot if you do well, but the opposite can also be true. Look out for OTE (on target earnings), which are earnings based on reaching a certain sales target.

Internal HR Teams, Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) and Embedded Recruitment

These three types of HR are different to working for a Recruitment Agency and share many characteristics. Internal refers to working for a specific team based within a company, RPO is when the entire recruitment process is outsourced, and Embedded Recruitment is a new wave in recruiting, and it is when you are employed by another company but are placed directly within a company HR department (Spotify in James’ case) to upskill their professionals and make internal hiring processes smoother. Characteristics of these roles:

  • Working closely with hiring managers
  • Use of job ads and CV screening
  • Carrying out first-stage interviews
  • Providing market insights
  • Fixing internal processes
  • Coordinating interviews
  • Progression by merit
  • Collaborative
  • Opportunities to travel

Applying for placements/graduate roles  

Finally, Issy Short, a final-year Business student at UoB, spoke about her placement year in HR and her upcoming graduate scheme. During her placement, she worked at a Vauxhall manufacturing plant where she managed a quality unit in a wide-ranging role that covered absenteeism, internal recruitment, training and awards schemes. She stressed the importance of treating everything as a learning curve and getting on board with as much as you can. She talked about the application process for many graduate HR roles, which largely involve online tests, STAR-based interviews and assessment centres. Issy gave some helpful advice:

  • Give as much detail as possible in your application.
  • Practice online tests: use Practice Aptitude Tests and CEB Global.
  • When researching the company, use their website but also other sites and news articles to increase commercial awareness.
  • Practice video interviews using tools such as Interview Stream. Always dress smartly so you feel like you’re giving a face-to-face interview.
  • When preparing, look up top interview questions for that sector.
  • In group tasks, play an active part without being overbearing, and involve others.
  • Ask for feedback after interviews/applications where you aren’t successful.

Final top tips for getting a role in HR

  • Do your research: use Glassdoor, but read positive and negative reviews.
  • Always include a cover letter showing you understand the company and stating why you want to work there. Make sure you know the company values.
  • Use your contacts to get referred; network with friends and family and use university-organised networking evenings.
  • For agencies: call or email – show you’re not afraid to pick up the phone.
  • Get as much experience as you can, when you can. Issy got experience in PR and was a brownie leader, and Vince mentioned that he acquired transferable skills from sports coaching and other activities which allowed him to realise he enjoyed teaching people.
  • Be adaptable: Vince started off on a graduate management training programme, but his employers noticed his adaptability and so suggested that he take on a new role which involved teaching people about a new system so he was able to move into HR.
  • If you want to get into HR, try it out and accept opportunities within your current job, if applicable, to move into that area of the business.

 What next?

To find out more, check out our HR insight page and the following websites if you’re searching for opportunities in HR (the links will take you to HR-specific pages where possible):

– Written by Jessie Read, CAL SET member