Graduate weapons for attacking the job hunt – human resources

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Tackling industries head-on in a bid to breakdown and identify the star characteristics that will help you graduates on the prosperous path to career success; this week the graduate weapons takes on human resources. With greater importance being laid on the implementation of correct and effective HR protocol in businesses worldwide, it’s an element increasingly recognised as integral part of any organisation; a department that is firmly seated around the boardroom table, contributing to the development of a company’s strategy. It doesn’t stop there; HR touches every industry bringing endless career opportunities for graduates to seize. Now let’s take a look at how best to do it…

The essentials
The overall focus of the human resource industry revolves around creating, implementing and managing efficient processes to create and maintain a happy workforce. Therefore a desire to work with people should exist as the foundation for a career in this sector. Strong problem solving, communication and team work skills are attributes which will lend you to a role in HR. In terms of qualifications, the degree requirements are broad. HR management or business-related credentials are natural precursors to a position in this industry but this doesn’t mean that your science or arts related degrees do not translate. Assess your degree modules; identify the skills you’ve gained that can be applied and compliment them with the suitable characteristics that you possess. You’re able to communicate complex concepts in easy to understand terms. You’re a multitasker, confident in juggling the different elements of a role. You’re a hands-on character able to identify and resolve issues seamlessly. You have strong persuasive abilities and a hunger to learn.

The should-haves
Aside from your degree, any previous work experience you may have no matter how small will be of benefit to you. Experience in customer service and relations or administration roles should be highlighted – these will do a lot to support your application. It is worth noting that employers have become increasingly interested in CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) courses and other HR qualifications, so exploring your options in this area is advisable. Many juniors in the industry have started with a Certificate in Personnel Practise (CPP) which demonstrates their interest in the field and then go on to a CIPD qualification, allowing for further progression. These aren’t pre-requisites but they do help, particularly when looking at the increasingly competitive nature of the HR industry.

Targeting your application
There’s a wealth of options when it comes to human resources. Each business is different, with their HR function operating in line with their company’s values and ethos. Roles in HR can range from more broad positions affecting a number activities through to more specific areas, with the format HR takes in a company depending on its size and structure. Larger organisations are by nature more structured, with their HR functions divided into specialist areas such as learning and development, resourcing, recruitment and selection, employee relations and engagement, rewards and remuneration. In a smaller company, meanwhile, you will have more of a generalist role. The key here is to have an understanding of the impact of HR in the company you are applying for.

Get an idea of the possible career opportunities by heading to our vacancies page to check out our latest HR internships and jobs. You may notice that we have fewer vacancies advertised in comparison to other sectors. This only demonstrates the high levels of competition in this industry, with most companies taking direct applications and SMEs outsourcing their HR departments. It is therefore worth considering all the alternative roads in. Entry-level HR positions are generally very administration-heavy, if you think your skills and qualities lend yourself to a more people focussed vocation, then consider recruitment as a starting point. You can always cross into HR after you’ve built a strong portfolio of experience.

Types of interview questions
The interview. A step in the process that may well intimidate you. Don’t worry! You’ve got this. Do yourself a favour and ensure you’ve researched and prepped for various angles of questioning. Your interview is your chance to shine. If you’re pursuing a career in HR you will be expected to know how to interview. Practice makes perfect and perfect is what they will be looking for. One key thing they’ll be interested in is your understanding of the industry. Consider how you would answer the following: What attracts you to HR? How can HR support a business? Give an example of a time you explained a complex concept in simple terms? You’ll no doubt be aware of the growing tendencies for interviewers to throw in random, unrelated questions. These aren’t tests as such, so don’t panic. It’s more a bit of fun and a great way for employers to see how you react to unforeseen circumstances that you will face in the day-to-day handling of people. Your answer isn’t the focus; it’s your approach and reasoning to your answer that will interest them.

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