6 Tips For Breaking Into the HR Profession

By Mark Griffin 

Many people are eager to start a career in HR, but often don’t know what steps to take to break into the profession. 

If you are in this situation or know someone who is, this article will provide some helpful hints. 

Finding a job in HR is easiest for those with an HR-related college degree.  Frankly, in most cases, even an advanced degree and/or HR certification is increasingly becoming the preferred credential.

But, people with majors in areas as business, sociology, psychology, and social sciences can also be considered, especially for entry level jobs.

However, in today’s highly competitive job market, even if you have the right credentials, you may need to do even more.

With that in mind, here are 6 additional tips for launching a career in HR.

1.  Join your local SHRM chapter.

Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) groups are an amazing resource to connect with senior HR professionals. There are local chapters in most every large metropolitan area.  In addition to making connections with other HR pros, many of the active local chapters also advertise open HR positions.  These jobs are first marketed to those within the group, thus giving you a leg-up as a candidate if you’re a member.

2.  Shadow an HR professional for a day.

Recent college graduates and college seniors contact my office to spend time within our department to better understand HR. We are flattered when they express interest in learning about HR.  Some of the relationships developed remain today.

3.  Do an internship even if it pays very little.

An unpaid internship I did for a congressman, although not HR-related, had a profound effect on my career. Doing interesting work for interesting causes always lends distinction to your resume credentials and raises your level of visibility to others who can help potentially advance your career in HR.

4.  Tackle a tough HR-related assignment.

Earlier in my career, a manufacturing plant within our company was suffering poor labor relations. Having employees screaming at each other and arguing was not sexy at all. I was asked to help mend the relationship between labor and management. I worked hard and ultimately solved many of the issues causing the conflict and, as a result, was promoted much earlier than many of my peers.

5.  Volunteer to serve on an HR task force or project team.

HR departments are always looking for non-HR professionals to pitch in and help out in cross-functional initiatives they are leading within the organization. You could volunteer your services by:

Many non-HR pros have leveraged their excellent work on an HR task force to gain the experience, credibility and visibility necessary to transition into a full-time HR career.

6.  Know the job above you.

When you finally land that first job in HR, it will most likely be as an HR representative. Find out the next level HR manager’s job description and do everything in your power to learn what they do and how they do it.  Always work at one level higher than you currently are.

And one more important point, don’t worry about your pay.  If you’re good, It will always catch up to you!

Please add your feedback or additional tips and suggestions HERE.

WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR OF THIS ARTICLE, MARK GRIFFIN?  Mark is Founder and Chief Consultant at In His Name HR LLC. He has over 20 years of HR experience. You can follow Mark’s journey and his growth by subscribing to his updates HERE. You can also read much more about why Mark took his approach to HR HERE. In addition you can also follow him on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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