How to Get Into Human Resources

How to Get Into Human Resources

Jobs in the field of human resources are among the hottest and fastest-growing in the world. Demand for HR specialists, managers, and consultants is outpacing the national average and has been pegged by Glassdoor as one of the most fulfilling professions with the highest job satisfaction. With all this positive momentum, many people are asking how to get into the human resources industry.
Breaking into HR, while not easy, can be done through a few different paths. You do not have to be classically trained as an HR specialist to find a spot. If you have a passion for people, are detail-oriented, can manage and be responsible for important data, and are willing to work hard, you can work your way into an exciting career as a human resources professional.
So how are you going to get into the human resources industry?
Here are our recommendations for how to make it happen.

The Traditional Path

Like most career paths, there is a traditional path to get into human resources. Many colleges and universities offer bachelor degrees in HR where you’ll be trained in organizational structure and behavior, business strategy, people management, data analytics, and much more.
You’ll be encouraged to participate in internships where you’ll be able to shadow and work directly with HR pros. In these internships, you’ll have opportunities to oversee different processes like how to run payroll, how to organize company events, how to hire and terminate employees, and how to manage and administer benefit plans.
If the traditional HR degree isn’t on your radar but you know you’d like to pursue a career in HR, obtaining a bachelor’s degree in a related field is highly recommended. Degrees in psychology or sociology can also help train you for a career in human resources.

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The Career Change Path

Of course, many people looking to find a way into the human resources field will not follow the traditional path. These are people who have graduated with various degrees, worked in different fields, and are only now seeing a future in HR.
The reasons to get into HR will vary from person to person. Some see it as a recession-proof job that has seen steady growth throughout the last two decades. After all, almost any company in any industry needs HR help in some form or another. There will always be a need for expertise when it comes to hiring, onboarding, managing, paying, and firing employees.
Others see it as an opportunity to focus more on the people aspect of the business. They want to increase their human interaction and have a larger impact on the individual successes and careers of their co-workers.
So if you don’t have a background in HR, where do you start? How do you get into human resources?
The first step is to analyze your professional and educational background and see if there are parallels between your skillset and the typical HR pro. For example, if your background is in finance or accounting, you’re likely very good with data and numbers. These are critical skills for HR professionals as they have to manage payroll, benefits, and employee data.
The next step is to begin networking with people in the field. You can start with the HR Manager at your own company. Ask them about what it’d take to break into HR, where they’d suggest to start, and if they foresee any job openings or opportunities in the near future. Make it known that you’re interested and would like to be considered for a job.
As you continue to communicate your aspirations with your network, you’ll want to apply for positions that match your skill set and qualifications. A great starting place for many people seeking to break into HR is the job of a recruiter. Recruiters do not necessarily have to have deep knowledge of human resources or organizational behavior, but rather they need to be good at talking with people, identifying talent, and evangelizing the company they work for.
"A great starting place for many people seeking to break into HR is the job of a recruiter."
Another opportunity for people who do not have a traditional HR background is in administrative work. Positions like Office Administrator or Office Manager often include aspects of HR in their roles. While these roles typically do not explicitly fall under the HR department’s umbrella, the work performed by many of these professionals often overlaps with human resources. In fact, if you’re working in a small company (50 employees or fewer) it is very common for the Office Admin to also be responsible for all things HR.

Credentials and Skills

Whether you have a traditional HR background or not, there are certain things you can do to improve your resume and land your HR dream job.
First, you can join professional human resources organizations such as the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) or the National Human Resources Association (NHRA). Membership in these groups will lend you credibility, while active participation in these groups will help you grow your network and enhance your skills.
Second, you can take your credentials to the next level by seeking one of the many respected HR certifications. These include PHR (Professional in Human Resources), SPHR (Senior Professional in Human Resources), SHRM-CP (Society for Human Resources Certified Professional), and SHRM-SCP (Society for Human Resources Senior Certified Professional).
There are also informal ways to improve your skills and get to learn more about the world of HR. Education sites like Udemy, Skillshare, and Coursera have both paid and free courses where you can narrow in on the specifics of the profession. Taking these courses will allow you to familiarize yourself with the cadence, workload, vocabulary, and processes that HR pros interact with each and every day.

Everyone Starts Somewhere

Breaking into a new industry can be challenging, regardless of the field. HR is no different. Human resources professionals have unique skills. They have a wide range of talents and are willing to take on huge amounts of work. Their responsibilities spread across the entire organization, and although many specialize in particular areas, others act like the Swiss Army Knife of the company and dabble in all aspects of the business.
If you’re wondering how to get into human resources, remember that everyone has to start somewhere. It’s unlikely that you’ll land a job as an HR Manager or HR Director right away.
"If you’re wondering how to get into human resources, remember that everyone has to start somewhere."
Do what you can to familiarize yourself with the field. Learn from others and network with HR professionals in your area. Join an association and participate in events. Apply to more entry-level positions, and maybe consider office administration or recruiting as a way to break in.
You can also follow our blog as we post multiple times each week about the tools, trends, and responsibilities that HR leaders care about.
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