How To Get a Job in Human Resources (and Tips To Qualify Without Experience)
What is human resources?
Human resources—commonly known as HR— is a division of a business that focuses on the employees. Those in this department will handle the employment side of a business, including hiring and terminating employees, compensation, workplace culture and employee relations. HR professionals are often responsible for training, recruiting and developing employees, as well as managing workplace operations, such as benefits, payroll, government regulations and compliance. Those who work in HR often moderate and assist in the resolution of conflicts between employees. They may also be responsible for handling personnel concerns and fostering organizational success and productivity.
Many colleges and universities offer programs and degrees focused on human resources. If you are interested in pursuing a career in HR, you may choose to earn a degree in a related field of study to prepare you for the duties associated with working in human resources. After completing your degree, you can start looking for job opportunities so that you can gain work experience in HR. Entry-level HR jobs can be challenging to find, but many companies hire new graduates to learn more about HR through hands-on work.
How to get a job in Human Resources
If you are wondering how to get a job in human resources without experience, follow these steps to increase your chances of securing an interview and being selected for a position.
1. Earn a degree
The first step to getting a job in human resources is earning a degree. If your school offers a human resources program, it will likely include courses focused on organizational theory, legal issues and compliance, performance management, employee development and training and other areas that HR professionals need to understand. Other related degrees that may help you get a job in HR include business and organizational or industrial psychology.
2. Look for internships
Before you complete your degree, look for internship opportunities offered through your school to gain hands-on experience. An internship may be unpaid or paid but will provide you with valuable experience that can help you better understand the field of HR and form connections in the industry.
3. Get certified
Certain certifications are highly valued and respected among human resources professionals. Becoming certified can show your professional achievements, as well as demonstrate your proficiency in a specific area of human resources. To obtain a certification, you typically have to take an exam to demonstrate your skills and knowledge. The requirements for each certification vary.
Some of the top certifications for HR professionals include Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP), Professional in Human Resources (PHR) and Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR). The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is a professional membership association that also offers several of its own certifications. SHRM also has student chapters at various college and university campuses, allowing students to network with HR professionals and find mentors.
4. Build a network
Working in HR involves working directly with people, so building a strong network is helpful in your efforts to find a job in the field. You can use professional social media platforms, join various HR organizations and associations and look for others in the human resources field to form and nurture your network. Other options for strengthening your network include connecting with your professors who may have connections in the field, reaching out to alumni of your educational program and contacting HR professionals who work for companies that are of particular interest to you.
5. Work on your resume
Before you apply, make sure to update your resume with the skills and experience that relate to HR. Even if you do not have experience in a human resources position, you can identify and highlight some of the skills you have gained through your other work experience that make you a top candidate for a job in HR.
Tips to get a job in Human Resources without experience
As you look for open positions and HR job opportunities, follow these tips to increase your chances of getting the job you want.
Take on other roles
If you find it difficult to get a human resources job, you can find other opportunities that will help you build the skills you need to potentially transition into HR. If you are currently employed, talk to your manager about potentially taking on certain tasks, such as assisting with payroll or leading a training session, to learn more about these responsibilities and gain hands-on experience. Working in a supervisory role can also benefit you in your goal to work in human resources, as those who manage others are often involved in recruiting, hiring and firing and managing employee relations.
Volunteer your time
You can also gain experience by volunteering for a nonprofit or community organization and supporting their HR efforts. Including volunteering experience is always valuable on a resume, and you can learn more about how human resources operates on the nonprofit side of the business. You can use online resources to find volunteer opportunities that align with your skills and passions.
Look for temporary opportunities
Many companies hire temporary workers in HR, and finding a temp opportunity could help you gain experience and interact with people who could potentially bring you on as a permanent employee.
Watch for internal opportunities to advance
It may be easier to move up in the company you currently work for, as those involved in making hiring and promotion decisions already know you and the work you do as an employee. Look for internal opportunities at your current company that could allow you to move into the human resources department and take on new tasks. You can also talk to those working in HR to express your interest in a human resources career and learn more about what the company requires of its HR professionals.