Careers Network recently hosted an ‘Insight into… HR’ event where we welcomed a range of speakers from the Human Resources sector, including recent graduates and managers. After the talk, there was a Q&A, and time at the end for students to ask speakers for more advice.

What is HR?

Human Resources is an industry which looks at various aspects of employment and recruitment. It includes a range of jobs such as recruiting and training employees, dealing with payroll, and determining the needs of the staff. Read more about HR.

A day in the life of someone working in HR 

There are a wide range of roles in the HR sector. Many will involve:

Varied days

All of the guest speakers agreed that each day is different. There are many projects to work on over a week, so there is never a dull day.

Lots of communication

Many of the roles in HR can include travelling to different businesses and visiting various schools and universities to give talks. It may also include speaking on the phone to many different people – even those on the other side of the world!

Recruiting new staff

Some roles give you the responsibility to hire candidates, train them, as well as potentially fire them! This area of HR is commonly referred to as recruitment.

Supporting employees

Some roles in HR such as an Employee Relations Adviser require you to resolve feuds between staff. If you were in this role, you may also have to support and advise line managers on staffing issues. Another role which involves supporting employees is a Training and development officer.

What employers are looking for

HR is open to all students, regardless of their degree subject. It always helps to have experience of working in a HR department, or administrative experience, but this isn’t always needed to get your foot in the door.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) qualification is the recognised professional standard for HR and training specialists. This can be taken in level 3, 5 or 7. It isn’t essential to have this qualification, but may improve your chances of getting into HR if you have it. Some employees will support you to study towards one of these qualifications once you’re in a role.

You will also need excellent communication skills, especially if you want to go into management. Managers need to have extremely good interpersonal skills in order to be effective, so find ways to develop these skills through part-time work, volunteering and internships.

Applying for jobs in HR – what you need to know

Try to be as confident as you can in the interview process. Even with no experience in HR, being passionate about the job may help you to get it. You need to research the employer and think about how you can make a difference to their team. Think about how a particular opportunity can add value to your own career, as well as what you can bring to their company.

While being at university, talk to as many different people as you can. Getting used to different personality types can help you get used to handling different types of people within the workplace.

Employers are looking for organised candidates. Various pieces of software may be used within the role, such as Trello boards. It may be useful to practice it now to give you a head start for the future. Questions about organisation skills are bound to come up, so make sure you have an example to give to demonstrate your ability to organise your time!

When it comes to the interview, sell what you are good at by using the skills you have learned while being at university. To help you identify your strengths check out the Making Career Choices page – and in particular, the personality questionnaire. This can help to give you a boost for the interview process. One of the speakers recommended the book ‘Personal Brandings for Brits’ to identify who you are, what you want and how to get there.

Standing out is important, as there may be many candidates who get to the interview process. For some questions, responding by using the STAR structure (Situation, Task, Action, Result) technique will help you to get noticed. A recent graduate recommended using the Careers Network mock interview sessions. These help to prepare and build your confidence. You can practice your interview technique from the comfort of your own home using Interview Stream.

You’ve got the job – now what?

  • There may be a lot of information to get your head around as soon as you start your HR job. Make sure that you listen carefully and ask any questions you might have.
  • Make sure you are able to respond and improve on feedback that is given to you.
  • Try not to be intimidated by senior staff that you are working for, as they are still human and can be a source of great advice!

Find out more about future Careers Network events

This post was written by Danielle Bill, Digital Marketing Assistant/SET member for Careers Network.