Friday, 11 April 2008

How To Get An HR Job.

Knowing a bit about the HR field, I thought I'd try to note down all the points that one would need to break into the field. My advice may not be perfect, but it's based on a lot of my own experiences and observations.

It's not that hard to get a start in HR. Try the following things,

1. Study the field. Know what you’re getting into. HR is really a multifunctional field – there’s recruitment, learning and development (training), compensation and benefits, performance management (appraisals) and strategy. Find out what skills each functional area demands and if you posses those skills, and if you do, whether you enjoy exercising them. This applies to any job.
Depending on the size of the company, you could be a generalist handling most of the functions above, or a specialist handling just one of them. Strategy, though, is mostly handled by senior management, external consultants, or people with a lot of experience or potential.

2. Post your CV on job sites – Naukri, Monster, TimesJobs, Jobsahead, etc. Make sure you classify it under the appropriate tags so that your CV pops up when a recruiter searches for an HR candidate.

3. If you’re a fresher or new to this field, getting into corporate HR is going to be tough. They usually recruit for even their entry level positions, folks direct from management institute campuses (MBA’s who get absorbed as management trainees) or with years of experience.

Instead, start looking for entry level jobs in HR recruitment agencies as they're the easiest to get. Just do a Google search or look at the jobs sections of newspapers to get names, addresses and contact details of a few recruitment agencies. Then call them and send them your CV or start visiting them for interviews. It’s important to network, get your CV out there and make contacts.

4. At your interview, convince the people there that you have the skills that they need. You need to know that recruitment is a mixture of search and sales skills. At your job, you will be assigned a client. Your client will give you a position to fill; you need to know where and how to look for someone to fill that vacancy.

Most recruiters use the job sites, their own databases, and referrals to get whom they need. They comb job sites, wasting as little time as possible by entering the right keywords. From their search results, they then shortlist a few CV’s that they feel are good and begin making calls.

On the call, they are polite and clear about the benefits of the job they are offering. If the person they’re screening doesn’t fit the job role, they add that person to their database for future reference and ask for possible referrals.

5. Qualifications help. It would be good to get a diploma or certificate in HR from a management institute (Eg. Welingkars, NMIMS, etc.). They have 6 month and 1 yr full time and part time courses in HR so you could work and study simultaneously.

6. If you regularly meet or exceed your targets and impress your client, you might even get offered a job by your client. If not, you still stand to make a lot of money through incentives. After a few years of work in a recruitment agency, you should have all the skills that corporate HR is looking for and can start applying to various MNC’s. Once you get into a company, it’s easier to get transferred to another department if you wish, though you will initially be involved with recruitment.

7. If recruitment is not your cup of tea, you could always complete a full time course like an MBA and then get an HR job of your choice through campus placements.


Bits and Pieces said...

Nice one Daniel.

I'm an HR generalist myself, and Corporate HR is a fairly competitive field even here in Oz.

There is a huge distinction made between Recruitment and HR professionals. Recruitment Consultants, unfavourably referred to as headhunters, have to be incredibly thick-skinned and sales-driven. They are set certain targets every month, andare extremely client-focussed.

Corporate HR is a support business function in most large organisations. Though the HR Officer does not get involved in core business operations, it is extremely employee-focussed. L&D and performance management in particular, are strongly implemented. Often companies have an in-house recruiter to look after the internal recruitment function.

Daniel said...

I agree. Thanks for expanding on this point. My article might have tended to treat recruitment consultancies and corporate HR as an evolution scale rather than as a difference in skill sets and culture.

The distinction between recruitment consultants and those in corporate HR is quite noticeable. Even in corporate HR, you tend to see minor differences between those who work in recruitment and those who man the other HR fields.

Despite an apparent lack of status, recruitment consultants don't really get shortchanged. For those who enjoy target driven work, their life seems to be made. They make a lot more money than corporate HR personnel, own a unique degree of personal responsibility and may even keep their own hours. It's interesting to see how they function. Most recruiters are so tuned in to their client's needs that they end up reporting to their clients functionally and their managers operationally, mirroring the relationship that contractors in any field in any company have with their clients.

There are also different levels in a recruitment consultancy. Not all recruiters have the time to source CV's AND interact with their clients as well so some consultancies have client coordinators to do the job. These people only meet clients, understand their requirements, and communicate these to the recruiters. In a small consultancy, this role will be taken up by the lead recruiter or team leader, who may have to balance both client interfacing and sporadic sourcing.

As you say, corporate HR is more of a support function. This is the main difference between recruitment consultants and corporate HR staff. Recruiters seem like free birds compared to corporate HR who seem to be caged. Recruiters enjoy the taste of success on a daily basis. They relish in the glow of a deal that they just closed and in the sound of a happy client at the other end of the phone line, and in the sight of the money that they bring in every month, a constant sign of their value as individuals and employees.

By contrast, an HR generalist in a company, being a part of the support staff, is relegated to the background, with nothing much to do except shuffle papers and files, though this work can be extremely rewarding to someone who enjoys analysis, admin and numbers. This, at least, used to be the traditional view of HR.

Thankfully, L & D and PA's have evolved to the extent that they are now complex entities and can now almost be called scientific, enabling us corporates to get excited about our once boring processes again. Internal recruitment is also getting interesting, what with psychometric testing making an appearance. New non-recruitment consultancy options also seem to be opening up - things like HR strategy and organisational restructuring seem to be making their presence felt. And lets not forget the growing relationship between training, instructional design and e-learning. Corporate HR was never this much fun!

Still, for the most part, a typical HR officer in a 'traditional' company (like a national bank for example) rarely gets to do stuff like this. It's important, when looking for a job, to look for a company with the right culture as well, one that you can ease into.

Most HR jobs, particularly ones in old-fashioned organisations, tend to look down on change and experimentation. Here, even senior HR staff fail to be involved in major decisions. A point ot be noted is that even in modern organisations, you HR work, no matter how exciting, will still probably be seen as non-essential, probably because HR usually takes orders from senior management rather than participate in senior decision making.

For those wanting to get into the HR field, it's important to remember the difference between the roles of a recruitment consultant and corporate HR member and the kind of work that your company will give you in corporate HR.

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