Starting Your HR Career

I want to get into more recruiting. I have been working in non-profit for 3 years and in college worked as a recruitment assistant. I worked in HR as a temp for 4 months as well. With that said, what are some of the positions that I should be applying for?

I’ve been getting calls back in recruitment coordinating. Is this a good place to start? However, I feel as though my previous experiences are relevant, in that I was recruiting, honing my writing skills, relational skills (employee relations) and learning administrative skills needed similar to what a person in HR would need. I feel a bit hesitant about taking such a low paying recruitment coordinator job, yet

I know I’m not qualified for corporate recruiting or the like. I’m not looking for a break to be situated where I’m not qualified but how should someone transitioning takle this situation. What should be my game plan? Should I get a certificate in HR? Should I take the position as a Recruitment Coordinator hoping that a few years down the road, I can be promoted?

This is a big transition and I would love some advice for the little guys out there dreaming and working toward corporate recruiting, HR consulting? Would a master’s help? What are some suggestions? How did you do it? I don’t want to limit myself and I know I can’t expect a position beyond my capabilities. Advice would help. Thanks!

Curious and Seeking Advice

To answer all your questions (except for the “how did you do it?” question), yes. Take the job, get a master’s degree, get your HR certification and a partridge in a pear tree!

Or not. A recruitment coordinator is an excellent place to begin. You’ll learn the basics of recruiting, which isn’t a bad place to start.

However, you do need to make sure that you don’t get trapped in such a position for ever. Sometimes it’s difficult to make that jump from a coordinator role to recruiter, or other HR position. If you are serious about an HR career, take the entry level job and start working on a master’s degree at night.

Now, granted, this isn’t entirely necessary. I do have a master’s degree, but it’s in Political Science, not HR or business. Having that degree helped me get in the door without much experience. (We tend to value degrees in HR–I think it makes us feel all kinds of important and smart.)

You can’t get certified as a Professional in Human Resources (PHR) or similar without 3 years of exempt HR experience. So, you need to work before getting certified.

Remember, though, that many HR people don’t have degrees in HR, so don’t worry about that so much. Just go for it.

I do, however, think that you learn the fastest in a small company with a small HR department. My second HR job was for a Credit Union that had 140 employees. I did recruiting, benefits and HRIS and helped with payroll. Talk about a learning experience.

Good luck with your new career path and welcome to the world of HR.

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6 thoughts on “Starting Your HR Career

  1. I actually wondered that myself. As an employment lawyer, I always believed, however, that HR personnel would also be best served by taking a short course in the basics in employment law; these types of classes are normally run at local colleges or by various bar associations, etc. You may not remember all the details, but you’ll be much better able to “spot the issues” — which I believe is crucial to an HR professional’s success.

  2. Hello,
    I’m glad to have stumbled upon your blog this morning. What little I’ve read of it I’ve found pretty interesting.

    Like you my first real job was with a credit union. I’ve stuck with credit unions and currently am in charge of business development at a small credit union.(Fewer than 20 employees, 1.5 branches) Our credit union serves about 55 local companies in our area. I’m the liaison between the credit union and HR dept for each company.

    Given your experience in HR and that you know something about credit unions, what are the perceptions of credit unions by HR personnel? What do credit unions such as mine need to offer or promote in order to be relevant and truly beneficial to the companies that we serve?

  3. Honestly? I think credit unions are great, but it wouldn’t make or break my decision to take a job somewhere. My current company has a credit union and I’ve never signed up.

    Someone with more experience in benefits would probably be better able to answer that question, although I’m generally of the mindset that if it doesn’t cost the company anything, why not? Does it cost the member companies?

  4. Once you get that recruitment coordinating job, join the national Society for Human Resource Management and start taking their classes. If you’re lucky, your new employer will pay for your membership (mine did) and the classes you want to take. I would recommend getting started this way before you jump into a master’s degree — you can learn a lot about HR in general and make a well-informed choice as to what type of degree/certification you want to pursue.

  5. Thanks for your reply. No, it doesn’t cost a company anything to offer our credit union as an optional benefit. So I take it from your reply that bottom line cost to the company is paramount towards whether the decision is yea or nay?

    It wouldn’t affect my taking a job somewhere either. With many larger credit unions opening up their membership to entire communities I think the uniqueness of credit unions is wearing off a little. That is unfortunate in my opinion.

    I think that most HR personnel would agree with you that CU’s are a good idea but many others just are not familiar with them.

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