Periodically, a reader's question has universal appeal and application so I am sharing both the question and my response. This particular question comes to me a lot, particularly from people who want to transition into the field of HR. With little to no formal education in HR and little job experience, what can the individual do to quickly impact their ability to work in our field?
Reader's Question: Let me introduce myself. My name is Ann and I am a BBA (Bachelor of Business Administration) graduate. I have several years' experience working as an accounts assistant, administration assistant, data entry operator and so on. I am 30 years old now and I wish to make upward progress in my career and Human Resources interests me.
But all the HR vacancies (even HR assistants) require HR experience. So, I thought of studying further to increase my chances of getting an HR position.
I am planning to do a Graduate Certificate course in Australia and there are two options:
- Graduate Certificate in Human Resources
- Graduate Certificate in Humanities and Social Science
Which one do you think might give me a chance to put a foot in the door in HR? I would be most obliged if you could provide advice in this matter. Thank you for your time and thoughts.
My Response: I am unfamiliar with many graduate certificates, so it is difficult to comment on specific ones, but I would think that one that allowed HR study, if that is your goal, would be better. However, I have several additional ideas.
Preparing to Work in HR
- Why not interview some successful HR managers in your community to seek out their advice about getting into the field of HR and how you can prepare. Many HR people are willing to do these informational interviews and it is also a way to get your name, as interested in HR, out into your community.
- Is there any way that you can take on additional tasks in your current job that take you in the HR direction? Many people started in HR by doing payroll as an example. Talk to your boss and your company's HR person about your goal and get advice. Maybe there are ways the departments can share you.
- Work with a decent resume writer or your college career services office to take your accounting experience and make it sound useful in an HR department. Numbers people are always needed in HR, so perhaps this experience can provide a bridge into an HR career.
- Can you take a brief leave to do an HR internship?
- If you have no grad degree in HR or business, consider that they are becoming more important in HR and might make you more employable.
Apply for HR Jobs Without Experience
I would apply for the positions that require experience. Work with your resume and cover letter to make your current skills and tasks relevant to HR, and apply.
Readers Share Transition Stories
Thoughts on transitioning to HR from another field. Readers share their thoughts about how they made their transition into HR. Readers share their more detailed stories about how they transitioned to a position in the field of HR.