I recently received an email from someone seeking advice on entering the field of HR as a career choice. This is a question I often get and so below is the advice I gave to someone with a degree in accounting. If you have a degree in HR, I would recommend that you also find some experience and education in business, finance and/or accounting. Understanding business is critical to a successful HR career if you really want to make an impact.
1. Find your passion.
2. Try an internship in an HR department. There are so many specialties within the field that this experience could prove valuable to you in determining what type of experience and education you will need to obtain and in which HR specialty. You can find certificate programs in a variety of specialties through local colleges and professional organizations. Take advantage of those.
3. You will definitely need to gain some experience. There are few ways to do this. You could seek out entry level administrative positions within HR or training departments. You could also look for opportunities within companies or organizations that you may currently work or have worked for previously. Retail and restaurant management positions can be a way to gain experience in many aspects of human resources such as hiring, recruiting, training, and supervising others. Recruiting firms and employment agencies also are a great way to get experience in that area and often hire new college graduates.
4. NETWORK. NETWORK. NETWORK. Join local or student SHRM chapters or other HR organizations in your area and get involved. Volunteer and join committees. You will be able to build a broader network and gain some experience by participating actively.
5. Create a LinkedIn Profile. Make sure you join groups with which you have a shared interest. Group postings often include networking and educational event announcements and other topics of interests to you. Also, seek individuals who are in HR roles within the organizations for which you are most interested in working. Try to connect to them and watch their updates. You may find announcements of openings in their companies on their profile.
6. Attempt to connect with an HR person within an organization for which you want to work to set up an informational interview. Use the interview to learn what roles the company has within the department, what skills and experience is needed to work within those roles, and ask for ideas on how you can gain the skills and experience. Make sure you keep a business card when you leave the meeting so that you can properly thank them for their time with a note and keep in contact via LinkedIn or through email.
7. Watch your online presence. Google yourself and keep all of your information and postings professional. Seventy percent of employers will Google you!
A career in HR can be very rewarding, but like accounting it isn’t for everyone. It is important to figure out what aspects of work excite or motivate you. When you find a job you are passionate about, it doesn’t feel like a job. And that is the best career you can have!
What advice can you share?
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Sheri Mazurek is a training and human resource professional with over 16 years of management experience, and is skilled in all areas of employee management and human resource functions, with a specialty in learning and development. She is available to help you with your Human Resources and Training needs on a contract basis. For more information send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.sherimazurek.com.