Once the study books are closed, exams are over and final year students are saying goodbye to their college years – I'm often asked, "What next?" In HR, there are many different avenues that your career can take.
There is a generalist route, which means that as a HR professional you have experience throughout the whole HR function. In terms of job titles your career can take the shape of:
- HR co-ordinator
- HR advisor
- HR business partner (HRBP)
- HR manager
- HR director
There are also specialised areas:
- Resourcing and recruitment
- Learning and development
- Compensation and benefits
- Organisational change and development
Your career choices will be unique to you, but my advice for any graduate is to focus on what it takes to secure a role within a solid HR team. It can be tempting to take the first role that comes your way, but I encourage you to hold out for a role in your chosen area of HR. This can be an internship, training, recruitment or a generalist assistant or administration-type role within any industry. Be prepared to start at entry level, work hard and learn as much as possible in the next two years. During this time you will start to understand, if you don’t know already, where your interests within HR really lie.
Why an internship could be key for you: for a graduate an internship can be a major stepping stone. It is a little bit more time spent not making money, but can be worth its weight in gold for the first steps in your career.
Advantages of an internship
Stand out from the crowd
All graduates have their college education but the one thing that you won’t all have in common is experience. An internship will allow you to gain professional experience which you can add to your CV and make you a desirable candidate in the future.
A hands-on approach
Up until now you have be learning in the classroom, it is now time to learn by action. Being in a working environment is a different way to learn valuable new skills.
It could lead to a permanent position
If you have managed to be accepted for an internship this is a great first step. It is a great opportunity to get your foot in the door and get to know the organisation, gain new skills and experiences.
My top tips for graduates looking to commence and establish their career
- Create a CV that is professional and effective
- Apply for relevant roles only - keep your job search focused. Follow up on applications with a phone call or email
- Be professional, organised and friendly with everyone that you are dealing with
- Use your personal and professional network. Talk to people you know in HR to get as much information as possible about the market. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date and professional
- Keep up to date with current affairs, and what is going on within HR
- And lastly…be persistent and don’t give up
Best of luck in your search for your first job on the way to the rest of your career. Don’t hesitate to contact me or the HR team if you would like some direction or advice!