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Hello all,

For the past few years I have wanted to begin working within the HR industry. I have many years within the hospitality industry at management level, administration and sales experience and an honours degree in Media and Communications, from Glasgow Caledonian University.

I have found that dispite my experience and suitable skillset, it is impossible to gain even an interview for advertised HR assistant / administrator positions to begin my career.

At this point I have gained financial help from family to begin further education to gain academic qualifications relevant to the industry.

Option 1.

Return home to Aberdeen (currently I live with my partner in Glasgow) and study for a year - MBA HRM at University of Aberdeen or alternatively MSc HRM at RGU.

Option 2.

Study CIPD level 7 Diploma in HRM long distance through ICS, this will take 4 years however I will be able to work full time - hopefully once I begin the qualification I may have a better chance of picking up an entry level position and working in the industry whilst studying.

I am finding it incredibly difficult to find any advise to determine which option would be best fitted and provide me with the best chance at getting started.

I would appreciate any comments in return!

Thank you for your help,

Amy Barnes

Replies (3)

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By Clare Anderson
27th Mar 2011 09:38

Hi Amy, not sure what to suggest on this one so you may want (if you haven't already done so) speak to your local CIPD branch - provided you have membership - this link goes to their contact details:

Alternatively you may benefit from some life coaching to work through the various options and decide your next steps.  Let me know if you'd be interested and I can put you in touch with someone. 

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By K Worley
29th Mar 2011 11:35


I wish you all the best of luck, and don't want to seem like I am pouring cold water on your enthusiasm, but even with the professional qualification it may still be hard to get an entry level role.

After years in customer service and various other environments I did the 1 year FT MA in HRM with the CIPD qualification included. This was a hard year - but I told myself it was worth it with a shining new job awaiting me at the end.

Even with CIPD qualification, MA in HRM and work experience that was relevant I found it almost impossible to get into HR (and that was when the job market was better)... I was too qualified for the admin jobs apparently (the fact that I still wanted to do them didn't matter - that is a whole other topic about HR practicing what they preach!) and I was under experienced for the more senior roles. It took me 8 months and countless applications with this route to get a temporary role at £5 per hour.... and a total of 14 months to get my first permanent role in HR.

The purpose of telling you my tale is twofold - (a) it will still be hard but (b) it is still possible.

I can suggest:

1 Try to get a role in a smaller company without an HR department but that might be amenable to you helping put some basic procedures in place.

2 Try to get into HR in a company you are already working in -  it is often easier to transfer internally where you and your strengths are a known quantity

3 Take voluntary or temp roles if you can financially afford to do so.

4 It may be easier to try your option 2... if you can get experience as you study...  but it has to be the right choice for you. And of course there is no guarantee even at the end of those 4 years it will be easier.

Finally rememer HR is different animal in each company you come across - this is the thing that struck me in the earlier years of my career. Be aware that if you grab your first role with both hands it may well not be what you expected... However the main reason I highlight this is that your strengths from your current experience may not be of value in some roles available to you - but there is likely someone out there who is looking for someone with your skillset.



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By sarahhowardillston
05th Apr 2011 12:12

Hi Amy,

I completely agree with the posting above.  Additional qualifications are not a guarantee of a job in HR and as you have already experienced, may in fact become a barrier.  If you have your heart set on further study then of course that is your decision but I would advise that you focus that time and attention to finding unpaid work experience in HR if you can or looking for administration roles which will place you in good stead for a HR Administrator position.  I realise that I was extremely lucky but upon leaving university (I have a psychology degree) I started temping as a HR Assistant.  I now have 10 years experience behind me and work as a Senior Advisor and I don't have any formal HR related qualifications.  They are not necesarily the only way into HR so don't give up just yet!

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