Have you recently graduated or set to graduate soon, and are starting to consider career options? You may want to know what the salaries are like in this career or what areas you could potentially work in – this guide will shed light on the HR department and how to get into it.
Alternatively, if you are looking to employ graduates in the HR department of your organisation, be sure to check out Best Start HR. They work with hundreds of businesses and not-for-profit organisations offering advice on employment and general consultancy in HR.
A career in human resources is focused on ensuring that a company has the best possible people working for it. Meanwhile, it has to be ensured that their worker’s rights are protected and their benefits are correctly administered. Those who are recruiters in HR are looking for individuals to look after aspects of a company’s operative side such as employee relations, advising on employment law (and making sure it is applied), health and safety, pay and benefits, recruitment and training.
What sort of skills and qualifications do I need to get into HR?
To pursue a career in human resources, you have to be a certain type of person and a certain set of skill strengths. The discipline of the qualification is not vital, a good degree in any subject will usually be considered by employers.
Useful skills for a successful career in HR are as follows:
- Administration and organistion skills
- Great time management
- People skills; good communication, empathy, sensitivity, discretion etc.
- The ability to get on with a range of people and personalities
- Work well in a team
- Numeracy, financial and budgeting skills
- IT skills; word, excel and so on
Work experience is also very valuable when applying for a graduate role in HR and will make you stand out amongst the crowd. Any work experience is good, but it is great to have work experience in a relevant area. The beauty of HR is that any job can give you useful experience into the world of HR. Using your opportunity in a company to observe people’s interactions, as an understanding of human behavior in a corporate environment is vital for HR roles. Try to work any experience you have into your application and your interview this way.
What is the interview process like for roles in HR?
When applying for roles in HR, you are likely to have at least one or more interviews. However, formal assessments are uncommon in this department. The questions you may be asked will probably be designed to find out about your interpersonal and team skills. Whatever questions come your way, always be prepared to give examples to back up your claims rather than just making statements. Also in the interview, you can attempt to improve your chances if you keep up to date with the practices in the sector, be sure to look out for HR-related news to refer to.
The competition for entry level role in human resources is relatively high. In some cases, it may be necessary to get experience in another office role before you can progress to a desired position in human resources. This is known as a “sideways move”. These are pretty common when coming into the sector of human resources.
What is working in HR like?
A typical day will involve you taking on a variety of different tasks. This may include routine administrative obligations such as making sure the payroll runs smoothly and keeping information about employees up to date. You are also likely to communicate and deal with the concerns of individuals. You may spend time advising employees how to deal with difficult situations, maternity leave or how to interview potential employees for a different department.
While a role in Human Resources is office based, and therefore you will spend a lot of your time at a desk and in meeting rooms, you will not be working isolation. You will be spending a lot of your time interacting with people and working in teams.
The areas of work
The great thing about working in HR is that you can work across the board or you can chose to specialise. As a graduate, you will probably be working across the board if you are on a scheme.
The areas of work include:
- Employee relations: Designing and implementing policies that aim balance the needs of workers and the management in terms of working conditions, equal opportunities, grievance procedures and so on. The main idea is to create a good working environment to make employees happy so they’ll work hard. In turn, this will increase productivity, efficiency and profitability.
- Employment law: You will have an understanding the laws relating to employment. Furthermore, understand the legally behind providing advice to employees and the organisation. You will work to make sure equal opportunities legislation is followed during all stages of recruitment. You will understand and implement laws about unfair dismissal, and harassment and work-related benefits.
- Health and safety: Your job will involve looking after the mental and physical health of employees. This encompasses providing the support the employees may need during illness or times of stress. Moreover, you will be aiming to prevent injury by implementing rules for lifting heavy objects and providing advice on correct chair height to minimise back pain.
- Pay and benefits: Developing a businesses salary structure, including bonuses, managing payroll and negotiating pay rises. Overseeing, arranging and providing guidance on a number of workers benefits, which includes things like pensions, health insurance, holidays, company cars and loans.
- Recruitment: You will be responsible for supervising the recruitment processes. This will involve finding potential candidates to recruiting new employees. You will also advertise jobs in writing job descriptions, advertising for staff, reading applications, overseeing and organising interviews and assessments. Then, ultimately you will aid in deciding who to take on.
- Training, learning and development: Organising any external training. Also, coordinating internal training sessions. Operating induction schemes for new employees.